Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Docketing a Judgment in Virginia

Quite often in our newsletter articles, we reference the “docketing” of a money judgment obtained by one of our creditor clients. This article takes a step back to explain to the reader what exactly that means, as even some attorneys do not understand the concept or the process of docketing a judgment. “Docketing” is a generic terms that is used to describe the process of recording a judgment in a court of record so that the judgment may be enforced by and through that court. It should not be confused with “the docket”, which generally refers to the list of cases being handled by a court on a particular day.

The Clerk of every Circuit Court in Virginia must maintain a judgment docket book or electronic data storage system in which judgments are recorded. A judgment rendered in a particular Circuit Court in Virginia is automatically recorded in that Court’s judgment book. However, judgments obtained in other Virginia courts, including federal courts and general district courts, are not automatically recorded in every judgment book across the Commonwealth. So, for example, a judgment obtained in the City of Alexandria Circuit Court is not automatically recorded in the judgment book of the Fairfax County Circuit Court. However, every Circuit Court in Virginia permits a judgment creditor to record in its judgment book a judgment obtained in a different Virginia court. This is generally accomplished by submitting a certified abstract of judgment prepared by the court in which the judgment was rendered. The abstract is a simple summary of the judgment that identifies the parties to the underlying action and the amount of the judgment. 

The term “docketing a judgment” is also used to denote the recordation of judgments from other states and other countries (which we generically refer to as “foreign judgments”). While docketing a foreign judgment can require more procedures than docketing a Virginia judgment, if docketed properly, the foreign judgment will be enforceable through the applicable Virginia Circuit Court as if the judgment was initially rendered in that Court. Furthermore, once a judgment is docketed in a particular Circuit Court, it automatically creates a lien against any real property owned by the debtor in that city or county. It is also allows the creditor (with additional procedures) to lien and potentially seize personal property owned by the debtor that is physically located in said city or county. The totality of the benefits of docketing a foreign judgment is beyond the scope of this article.

To learn more about the collection of judgments, please contact our law firm at 703-273-1400 or send an e-mail to law@gross.com. To learn more about Gross & Romanick, visit our website at www.gross.com.