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Being Sued Overseas?

By Tony Johnson - 26 Mar 2010

If you are being sued in another country, see your lawyer immediately. You could fight the case in the other country's Court, object to that Court's jurisdiction over you, or even ignore the overseas Court completely.  Figuring out the best strategy to deal with overseas law suits depends on your particular circumstances.


Option 1 - fight the case overseas

This could be more expensive than you think.  Things like higher legal fees overseas, translation costs and overseas travel add up quickly.

Option 2 - object to Court's jurisdiction

An alternative might be to object to the overseas Court's jurisdiction over you.  Generally, however, an overseas Court will accept jurisdiction if the matter involves its own national and the matters in issue took place in that country.

Option 3 - ignore the overseas Court

It's not usually a good idea to bury your head in the sand when you are sued in New Zealand.  However, when you are being sued overseas, it can sometimes be worthwhile.

This possibility needs to be discussed with your lawyer.  Such inaction may be appropriate if you do not intend re-visiting the country overseas or you do not have assets in that country.

The importance of not involving yourself in the overseas proceedings becomes very relevant if it comes to challenging the enforcement of the judgment in New Zealand.

NZ enforcement of overseas judgment

Although ignoring overseas proceedings is one thing, you should definitely not ignore any attempt to enforce the overseas judgment in New Zealand.

Enforcement can be by way of a common law debt proceeding.  in relation to certain countries, enforcement can happen in accordance with the reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act.

Generally, the New Zealand Court must be satisfied that the overseas Court had jurisdiction to determine the matter against you.

A New Zealand Court will be hesitant to allow enforcement of the judgment in New Zealand if:

  • You were not living in the overseas country when the proceedings were served, and
  • You have not submitted to the other Court's jurisdiction or otherwise agreed to the overseas Court's jurisdiction.

If you need to know more about overseas proceedings, contact Tony Johnson.


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