Yes it is kind of possible
what country would the legal action need to originate from? Would one
file in the US and note the foreign defendant or would one file, as a
foreigner, in the home country of the defendant?
You can go either way. It is not obtaining the judgment that is the biggest trouble here, but enforcing it.
You will need:
- A UK mailing address. Services like ScanMyPost will suffice.
- Some money to pay the court fees.
- Time, tenacity and patience to follow through the procedure and fill all necessary forms.
- Be lucky in that the defendant actually has something to pay the debt with.
There are two stages:
- Obtain a court judgment in your favour.
- Unless the defendant pays you, enforce the judgment.
Obtaining court judgment in the UK
In the UK, the "small claims court" functions are executed by HM Courts & Tribunals Service. The specific service is called "Claim for money" which can be filed online via their old or new system.
So, basically, you file the online form, pay the fee by credit card and wait for defendant's response. If they do not respond, you ask the court to make a judgment (in my case it took 10 weeks from filing claim to getting judgment). If the defendant responds and defends themselves, expect much longer wait and uncertain outcome.
So, you and the defendant have both received court judgment saying that they must pay you. But they are not paying.
There is a range of options you can choose from:
Alternatively, you could always hire a UK lawyer but then you would probably not need this answer.