Recognizing and enforcing foreign judgments in Alberta

May 2, 2023 | Melissa J. Preston, Danielle M. Bouchard

In our increasingly global community, disputes often do not adhere to traditional jurisdictional boundaries. The same holds true for the enforcement of judgments and orders. Increasingly, parties are looking to other provinces or countries to enforce their judgments. However, in order to do so in Canada, the judgment must first be recognized or adopted in the province or territory in which you intend to enforce.

This article provides a brief informational overview of the mechanisms to recognize and enforce a “foreign” monetary judgment in Alberta.


There are three main methods to have a foreign monetary judgment recognized in Alberta:

  • Option 1: Apply under the Reciprocating Enforcement of Judgments Act, RSA 2000, c R- 6 (“REJA”);
  • Option 2: Apply under Part 9, Division 7 of the Alberta Rules of Court, Alta Reg 124/210 (the “Rules of Court”); or
  • Option 3: Apply under the common law.

Each option requires the judgment creditor (the party seeking to enforce the judgment) to bring an Originating Application before the Court of King’s Bench to recognize the foreign judgment. However, each option is not universally available.

Option 1 and Option 2 are restricted to certain originating jurisdictions. Recognition of all other foreign monetary judgments must proceed by Option 3.

  1. Option 1, an application brought under the REJA, is only available where:
    • (i) the application is brought within six years of the date of the foreign judgment;[1] and
    • (ii) the judgment was issued by a “reciprocating jurisdiction,” being one of the following jurisdictions with whom Alberta has a mutual agreement to recognize and enforce judgments:[2]
      1. the Canadian Provinces and Territories, excluding Quebec;
      2. Australia; and
      3. the following U.S. States: Washington, Idaho, Montana and Arizona.
  2. Option 2, an application brought under the Rules of Court, is only available where:
    • (i) the application is brought within six years of the date of the foreign judgment;[3] and
    • (ii) the judgment is a monetary judgment issued in the United Kingdom.

Where available, Option 1 under the REJA and Option 2 under the Rules of Court are often deemed to be the more “economical and expedient…” routes.[4] Among others things, an application brought under the REJA or Rules of Court may be brought ex parte (without notice to the judgment debtor) if the judgment debtor was personally served with the original action or otherwise attorned to the jurisdiction of the Court that issued the judgment.[5] In the case of the REJA, the judgment creditor obtains a certificate from the originating jurisdiction that confirms, among other things, the particulars of the judgment and that the time for appeal has lapsed and no appeal is pending.

The ability to bring an application to recognize a foreign judgment ex parte may provide cost savings, making this appealing to creditors with foreign judgments who have likely already faced obstacles in collection.

Regardless of the method utilized, the relevant issue before the Court in an application to recognize a foreign judgment is not the substance of the action underlying the original judgment, but rather, whether the foreign judgment is valid and was properly obtained.[6] In particular, the Court will consider (a) whether the issuing Court had jurisdiction or authority to grant the judgment; (b) whether an appeal is pending and/or whether the time to appeal has lapsed; and (c) whether the cause of action underlying the judgment is against public policy or was otherwise improperly obtained (i.e. fraud).


Once a judgment is recognized in Alberta, it can be enforced as if the judgment had been originally issued in Alberta. Key enforcement steps available to judgment creditors include the ability to:

  • register a writ of enforcement to preserve their claim to the debtor’s assets;
  • garnish the accounts and/or wages of the debtor;
  • seize and sell the debtor’s assets located in Alberta;
  • obtain a statutory declaration (a sworn statement) of debtor’s assets in order to get a better picture of the assets available for enforcement; and
  • conduct Questioning in aid of enforcement of the judgment debtor.

Miller Thomson LLP is here to help with your legal needs. Should you have any questions or need assistance with the recognition and/or enforcement of a judgment in Alberta or elsewhere in Canada, please contact Miller Thomson’s Commercial Litigation team.

[1] Reciprocating Enforcement of Judgments Act, RSA 2000, c R-6, s 2

[2] Reciprocating Jurisdictions Regulation, Alta Reg 344/85

[3] International Conventions Implementation Act, RSA 2000, c I-6, Schedule 3, Article 3; Alberta Rules of Court, Alta Reg 124/210, r 9.42

[4] HMB Holdings Ltd. v Antigua and Barbuda, 2021 SCC 44 at para 23, discussing Ontario’s companion legislation, the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act, R.S.O 1990 c R.5

[5] Alberta Rules of Court, Alta Reg 124/210, r 9.44; Reciprocating Enforcement of Judgments Act, RSA 2000, c R-6, s 2(2) and 2(3)

[6] Dingwall v. Foster, 2014 ABCA 89 at para 16


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