Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Korean Courts

Enforcement of U.S., European and other Foreign Court Judgments in Korean Courts.  For a more comprehensive article on this issue please see: Execution of Foreign Judgments in Korean Courts.

Dear Sean, I have a judgment in a New York court against a Korean importer. I shipped my goods to the company and the company refuses to answer my calls, e-mails, and letters. I sued and won a default judgment in a New York State court. No assets were found in the U.S. I believe the company have assets in Korea. How can I enforce the judgment? / Cashed out in New York.

Dear Cashed out in New York: A Korean court should enforce your judgment. Most foreign commercial judgments are enforced with little difficulty.

A Korean court requires proper service of process under the Hague Convention, that the New York court had jurisdiction over the dispute, that the New York courts enforce Korean judgments (reciprocity), and also that the judgment is not contrary to Korean “public order and good morals.” Often snags occur during the enforcement of family court judgments because of the courts sometimes-conservative stance on divorce and custody.  However, things have, recently, improved.

Also, a Korean court is sometimes leery of enforcing a default judgment, since the Korean party has not had the opportunity to appear and state his case. This sometimes leads to the foreign party being required to sue based on a normal action in a Korean court, a process that is often less time-consuming and costly than in New York.

Normally, it is advisable to first obtain a preliminary (provisional) attachment and then file to enforce the New York judgment if the company is not a well-established company, since I all too often hear of cases where a company, in a troubled financial state, quickly spends down assets in order to avoid outstanding debts.

When navigating the enforcement of judgments in Korea a competent firm with significant experience handling foreign clients is necessary.

Appeared in the Korea Times on September 22, 2007
by Sean Hayes

Sean Hayes

Known for his proactive street-smart advice & non-conflicted advocacy, NY Attorney Sean Hayes works with leading retired Korean judges, prosecutors and experienced Korean attorneys in leading contentious and transactional matters in Asia. First non-Korean lawyer employed by the Korean Court System. SeanHayes@ipglegal.com

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