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Authenticating a Judgment That Was Ruled Abroad

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Authenticating a judgment that was ruled abroad, as well as obtaining a certified translation of the judgment, is required when the need arises to enforce foreign judgments in Israel. Failure to comply with the strict rules on the matter may lead to the denial of a request for the enforcement of a foreign judgment in Israel. Unfortunately, such requests are often rejected due to having been submitted in violation of the rules. In this article, lawyer Michael Decker, who is a notary public and partner of our firm, and who specializes in the enforcement of foreign judgments, explains about what should be done to promote foreign judgment authentication.

Our firm, which has branches in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, provides comprehensive notary services in Israel and abroad, as well as legal services in all branches of civil law. Our firm has extensive experience in handling a variety of procedures that require notary services. Our services include notarial authentication, translation of official documents, authentication of foreign documents, apostilization, and more.

Judgment authentication

Enforcing a Foreign Judgment in Israel

The need often arises to enforce a foreign judgment in Israel. This is common, for example, when the convicted accused person is an Israeli citizen who operated overseas and then returned to Israel to evade the judgment execution. Other common examples are cases in which spouses from different countries of origin experience divorce and child custody disputes, business disputes between companies from different countries, or debt claims of foreign governmental bodies.

Anyone wishing to enforce a foreign judgment in Israel will find that doing so is not easy. Generally speaking, the legal systems of different countries are not subordinate to each other. That is, the fact that a judgment was ruled in a certain country does not necessarily mean that it will be recognized and executed in a different country.

The legal solution that allows executing a foreign judgment in Israel is to conduct a legal procedure that will enable recognition and execution of the foreign judgment (also known as psak chutz in Israeli law). The procedure is conducted in accordance with the Foreign Judgments Enforcement Law, which establishes strict meticulous rules on the matter. The complexity of this type of proceedings requires special experience and skill, and it is therefore highly recommended to consult a lawyer and notary who specializes in the field even before setting out.

One of the most important requirements for successfully enforcing a foreign judgment is authenticating the judgment. Unfortunately, requests for the enforcement of foreign judgments may often be rejected due to violation of the authentication rules. For example, in 2014 (Civil Case 21060-07-13 Shmuel Frommer v. Mox Telecom AG), the Haifa Magistrate’s Court refrained from deciding whether to enforce a German judgment due to the enforcement request having been submitted without authenticating and translating the foreign judgment as required. This emphasizes the importance of following the legal requirements when submitting a request. Below, we explain what these requirements are.

What Is the Procedure for Enforcing a Foreign Judgment?

First, it is important to know that the law establishes strict conditions in regard to the recognition of foreign judgments as enforceable in Israel. Among other requirements, it must be proved that the judgment was given by a foreign legal body that was authorized to give it, and that it may no longer be appealed in the foreign country. In addition, the judgment must be enforceable in the foreign country and must not contradict the Israeli law or norms (public policy). Also, if the judgment was given in a state whose laws do not allow the enforcement of Israeli judgments, an enforcement request must be submitted by the Israeli Attorney General.

Besides these strict rules, as well as other requirements, there exist several protections against the enforcement of foreign judgments. One example of this is if the judgment was given fraudulently, or without the court having assured the other party a proper defense. Another example is if the foreign judgment was given by a legal body that was not authorized to give it according to international law. There are also several other cases where it can be claimed that the foreign judgment should not be enforceable in Israel. You can read about such cases in another article on our website.

Notarial Authentication and Translation of Judgments

Besides the strict rules explained above, the regulations stipulate additional rules for the authentication and translation of judgments that were given abroad. These rules are complex and somewhat obscure. First of all, to authenticate a foreign judgment, a certified copy of the judgment must be obtained in the country where the judgment was given. This is sometimes a complex task in and of itself, due to bureaucratic reasons or lack of normal relations between Israel and the foreign country.

Furthermore, the court often requires the submission of a certified translation of the foreign judgment. What is a “certified translation”? According to the regulations on the matter, a translation may be submitted if it was approved by an Israeli diplomatic or consular representative operating in the country where the judgment was ruled. Alternatively, a translation may be submitted if it was approved by a representative of the foreign country in Israel. Another option that is stipulated in the regulations is to submit a translation that was approved in any other way that is agreed upon by the court. The translation must be submitted together with an opinion by a foreign law expert that confirms the existence of the conditions for enforcing the judgment or its recognition under the Foreign Judgments Enforcement Law.

In a ruling by the Herzliya Magistrates Court it was stipulated that a foreign judgment given in New York State may be translated by a notary specializing in foreign law. However, it should be emphasized that the case ruled by the Herzliya Court concerned a foreign judgment that was given in the English language, which the Court understands. That is, the approval of the translation depends very much on the specific case. Therefore, and in light of the lack of clarity that often exists in this area, it is recommended to seek the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in enforcing foreign judgments when authenticating and translating a foreign judgment, as well, before submitting the enforcement request.

Notarial Authentication and Translation of Judgments That Were Given Abroad – Contact Us for Questions or Assistance

Above we explained about the process of authenticating a foreign judgment. If you have any questions or need assistance on the matter, you are welcome to contact a certified lawyer and notary from our firm in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Our firm provides a variety of notary services, including notarial authentication, translation of foreign judgments, translation approval certificates, and apostille services. You can contact us via the phone numbers or email address listed below.

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