Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Belize
Executive Summary We advise our clients who have asset protection issues to use a Belize Trust. The assets of a Belize Trust are immune from the decisions of a foreign court. This includes, bankruptcy courts, family courts, civil judgements and fraudulent conveyance allegations. Anything the foreign (Non Belize) court does is irrelevant when it comes to Belize Trust Assets contained in Belize. The catch all that lawyers like to use is the fraudulent conveyance allegation. They sometimes get the home country court to make a ruling that there was a fraudulent conveyance. Any order, decision, ruling, etc. from a foreign court is a big zero when it comes to the Belize Trust in that it has no legal value concerning Belize Trust assets. When one opens a bank account in Belize using a Belize Trust the banks tend to force issues regarding trust paper work to weaken the trust. So we do not have the Belize Trust open the bank account to preserve the privacy and asset protection value of the trust. What we do is use a Belize Corporation or other corporation from another country to open the bank account. The shares of the corporation are then titled to the Belize Trust and this is documented. This makes the corporation and corporate bank account property of the Belize Trust and thus immune from the decisions of a foreign court. Any such judgments from a foreign court cannot be domesticated or enforced in Belize against Belize Trust Assets. This is the only Trust that has this provision. No other trusts have a statutory exemption against fraudulent conveyance allegations. We will review some conditions for collecting a foreign judgement if the assets are not owned by a Belize Trust, just a regular corporation. If the assets are owned by a Belize Trust they are safe so there is nothing further to talk about.
Belize Corporation Bank Accounts One needs to remember that a personal judgment is not a judgment against a corporation. These offshore corporations legally in the eyes of the law have their own separate liabilities and assets. They are separate and distinct judicial persons. Just because you own the stock, it does not mean your debts transfer to the corporation. The ownership of these anonymous bearer share corporations is not recorded in any public registry or database. It is not easy for a creditor or financial enemy to submit evidence to the court to establish ownership. Even if ownership was established there are a number of other obstacles facing your financial enemies.
Foreign Judgment Reciprocity Belize will only recognize the judgments of a country that recognizes their judgments in their own courts on an equal basis with the way Belize treats their judgments. They tend to favor British Colonies in this regard. Other conditions that must be met to enforce a judgment in Belize follow:
Judgment has to be no older than six years.
Judgment must be final. Time for appeals has expired.
Judgment needs to be from a Superior Court of the country. Municipal court judgments may be difficult or impossible to enforce.
The court had correct jurisdiction over the matter.
The matter was not previously and correctly decided in another court.
The debtor was duly served according to the laws of that country and had ample time to respond.
If the plaintiff and defendant had an agreement to settle disputes in a matter differently than using the court that issued judgment, then the judgment may be not admissible in Belize. Thus the two parties may have agreed that proper venue would be country B, yet the plaintiff sued in country A. The agreement may have called for arbitration yet the plaintiff just sued. This sort of thing could cause the denial of the judgment.
If the judgment is for a fine, penalties or taxes it might be disallowed.
Summary It is most difficult to litigate against an offshore corporation where the underlying debt is against a person or another corporation. If you use a Belize Trust you become safe from the decisions of any foreign court including fraudulent conveyance as long as the assets are contained in Belize and thus under Belize law. In any event the conditions required for a judgment to be enforceable in Belize can be onerous and expensive from the perspective of a judgment creditor. Lawyers in Belize and the country of the judgment would be needed and double legal billing gets costly right away. If the debtor realizes there is a pending action he will remove the assets from Belize right away which thwarts the efforts of the creditor and the money he has spent is wasted. This is something not seen very often.