October 20, 2023
If you have obtained a judgment against a person (or corporation) in a court outside Ontario, what do you do?
If the judgment is from another province or territory other than Quebec, under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act, there is a simple process to register that judgment with the Superior Court in Ontario, and then the enforcement process is the same as if it originated as an Ontario jurisdiction.
When they were served already in the original jurisdiction, and judgment was obtained, if Ontario courts and the Act are satisfied with the service, their right to notice and participation is extinguished.
Primary grounds to refuse registration are if the foreign judgment was obtained by fraud or without adequate notice. Occasionally, more subtle public policy grounds will exist.
It becomes trickier with judgments from Quebec or from outside Canada. Recognition depends upon international conventions or treaties. These are usually reciprocal, so Canada may not have such an arrangement with countries that have legal systems believed to operate in a manner that Canada considers unfair. If there is no reciprocal recognition, proof that the judgment ought to be registered requires proof that the process was fair to the debtor.
If it is a reciprocating jurisdiction, like the United Kingdom, then the process is much like the process for judgments from another province.
Otherwise, there must be a real and substantial connection between the debtor and the original jurisdiction. This prevents what is called “forum shopping”. The judgment will not be enforced if the original court lacked jurisdiction, as that term is interpreted in Canada.
Generally, a foreign judgment requires proof of service (as is required for other provinces) plus proof that the debtor either:
- Was a resident of the jurisdiction in which they were sued
- Was carrying on business in that jurisdiction or
- Submitted to the jurisdiction voluntarily by appearing to defend the claim.
Both the concepts of residency and carrying on business come with subtle interpretations, and Ontario might not recognize the judgment even if it is valid in a foreign jurisdiction where these laws vary.
Once the foreign judgment is registered in Ontario, it is still necessary to take steps to enforce it, such as those set out in the Rules of Civil Procedure. Common steps include:
- registering a writ binding real estate;
- the sale of an interest in real estate (or personal property);
- the seizure of bank accounts or
- garnishment of income, including wages.
HOW WEILERS LLP CAN HELP YOU
If you have a judgment in another province or a foreign country, we are experienced in registering them in Ontario and are adept at enforcement proceedings in Ontario. We take it personally when opposing parties evade collection efforts.
If you have a foreign judgment, give us a call and see if we are the right lawyers to help you.