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Enforcing U.S. Judgments in Germany

A Focus on Germany

We frequently encounter questions regarding the enforcement of U.S. judgments abroad. This issue can be particularly complex, given the differences in legal systems, procedures, and international treaties. In this article, I will shed light on the process of enforcing U.S. judgments in Germany, highlighting the key steps and considerations for those seeking to navigate this legal terrain.

Understanding the Framework:

The enforcement of foreign judgments in Germany, including those from the United States, falls under the regulations of the German Code of Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung or ZPO). Germany is a party to various international conventions, such as the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and the Lugano Convention, which provide a framework for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. However, when it comes to U.S. judgments, certain essential conditions must be met.

  • Jurisdiction:

To enforce a U.S. judgment in Germany, it is crucial to establish that the U.S. court had jurisdiction over the matter. German courts generally require the foreign court to have had international jurisdiction and applied fair and reasonable procedures.

  • Recognition of the Judgment:

The first step in the enforcement process is to seek recognition of the U.S. judgment in Germany. Recognition is often granted when there is reciprocity between the legal systems of the two countries. However, the principle of reciprocity is not explicitly defined in German law, so it is essential to demonstrate that U.S. judgments are recognized in the United States.

  • Confirming the Authenticity of the Judgment:

The U.S. judgment should be properly authenticated, translated into German if necessary, and notarized. These steps are vital to ensure the authenticity and admissibility of the judgment in German courts.

  • Substantive Review:

German courts will not conduct a full review of the merits of the case. However, they will ensure that the U.S. judgment does not violate German public policy (ordre public). This principle acts as a safeguard against enforcing judgments that are contrary to fundamental German legal principles. One caveat here is that the German legal system generally does not recognize punitive damages.

  • Enforcement Proceedings:

Once the U.S. judgment is recognized and considered enforceable in Germany, the creditor can initiate enforcement proceedings. This may include attachment of assets, bank accounts, or other measures to satisfy the judgment debt.

Challenges and Considerations:

Enforcing a U.S. judgment in Germany is not always straightforward. Challenges may arise due to differences in legal terminology, procedures, and the need for competent legal representation. It is advisable to engage legal counsel with expertise in international and German law to navigate these complexities successfully.

Moreover, the enforcement process can be time-consuming and costly. Parties should be prepared for potential delays, especially if the judgment debtor raises objections or disputes the enforcement.


Enforcing U.S. judgments in Germany is definitely possible and frequently encountered. However, it requires careful consideration of the legal framework, proper documentation, and adherence to German legal procedures. Given the complexities involved, seeking legal counsel with experience in both U.S. and German law is a wise step in ensuring a successful enforcement process. Understanding the nuances of international law and the German legal system is essential for those seeking to enforce U.S. judgments abroad.


The material in this post represents general information and should not be deemed legal advice. Any use of the website DOES NOT create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between German American Real Estate & Immigration Law Center, LLC (law firm) or any employee of or other person associated with the law firm and a user of this website. It is intended as an educational resource for
understanding the laws. Since the law is continually changing, some parts of this website may become outdated before the next update. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities regarding your particular case.

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