Enforcing Interstate Court Judgments


Often a successful litigant in court who has obtained a judgment in their favour may find that the other party has moved themselves or their assets to another state. However, there exists a procedure by which such litigants can seek to have their instate court decision satisfied through enforcement in another state.

Enforcing judgments obtained in one Australian states in another can be a relatively cost-effective and straightforward process.

Clause 118 of the Australian Constitution, provides that “full faith and credit shall be given, throughout the Commonwealth to the laws, the public Acts and records, and the judicial proceedings of every State.” This means that the various Australian state courts and government departments are required to recognise the actions of one state’s legislature, government and courts made by other states within Australia.

This also extends to the recognition and enforcement of judicial decisions in other state courts such as money judgments (e.g. costs orders or orders to pay a debt, both final and interlocutory).

The process is regulated under the Service and Execution of Process Act 1992 (Cth) (SEPA) which creates a process for the service and execution of court processes between different Australian states.

In Queensland, a judgment or money order made in a federal or interstate court can be registered and enforced if the person required to pay the money lives or has their place of business in Queensland.

In order to seek enforcement of a judgment of an interstate court against a defendant residing in a different state court, applicants will need to ensure they comply with the provisions noted in SEPA. Broadly, an applicant wishing to enforce a judgment in another state must:

1. Obtain a sealed or certified copy of the interstate judgment or order;

2. Lodge an application with the sealed copy of the interstate judgment or order with the registrar of the appropriate court with the jurisdiction to make those orders, and pay the relevant filing fee.

The application will need to also be accompanied by an affidavit in support (which comply with the relevant court’s rules) before any enforcement steps may be taken.

Once the interstate judgment has been registered, it may be enforced in that state as if it were a local judgment. A range of enforcement procedures exist such as enforcement warrants to recover debts (which authorise the seizure and sale of property from the debtor, redirection of money or the redirection of earnings) under a registered judgment.

Applicants should also be aware that a number of issues may arise in the course of seeking to enforce a judgment such how to deal with property that is jointly owned, or particular legislative procedural prerequisites relating to the sale of land which must also be complied with.

We recommend that you seek advice and assistance in order to ensure that your interstate judgment is correctly registered and capable of enforcement. We are able to provide parties with advice and assistance with enforcing interstate judgments in Queensland in a cost-effective and accessible manner.