What happens when you get sued for civil matters such as breaching employment contract in one country, after you have already left to another country for good? What is the general protocol for these kind of cases?

  • 1
    Usually you hire a lawyer to represent you in court, unless the court requires you to be present. Some courts allow tele-presence, really depends. You also tagged this as "arbitration" which is outside of a court environment and the conditions can be specified (or agreed upon) by the interested parties.
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 14:42
  • Thanks for the reply, what my concern is what happens if you have been sued but you do not show up? And just choose to ignore the sue completely since you are not going to ever return to that country ? Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 14:43
  • Then a default judgement will be entered against you (in a court environment), in arbitration this will be seen as an impasse and the other party will (probably) file in a court, and if you don't show up there, see the first part of this (long) sentence. Depending on the rules between the countries judgements may be filed in your local court and you may be ordered to pay.
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 14:44
  • So basically being in an impasse for these cases mean that it cannot be progressed further? I am sorry I am not aware with these terminologies. Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 14:47
  • Again depending on the country you may have to agree to rules of arbitration, where you agree that it is binding based on the arbitrator's decision. Whether or not you can do arbitration (or something like mediation) depends on the countries involved and your contract. Arbitration may be binding, but you can't participate in it if you don't show up, so the next step is court.
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


In the absence of an agreement to the contrary, you could usually be sued in the jurisdictions where the events giving rise to the claim took place, if you were personally served with process anywhere in the world in a procedurally correct manner. If this happens and you default or fail to cooperate in the judicial process, you will probably have a judgment entered against you.

If you lost, the other party would get a judgment against you (an official declaration of a court that you owe another party money that authorizes various involuntary means of debt collection from your income and assets). This could be enforced against assets you have in the jurisdiction where the judgment was entered, or could be "domesticated" to a different jurisdiction where you had assets by bringing suit or exercising another process set forth by treaty or a law of the jurisdiction in which the foreign judgment holder seeks to domesticate the judgment.

Whether the foreign judgment is conclusive against you or not, depends upon the domestic law of the place where they seek to enforce the foreign judgment, the nature of the underlying claims upon which the foreign judgment is based, and the legal process used to obtain the foreign judgment.

Many countries will pretty much automatically enforce a judgment enforcing a breach of a contract between private sector parties obtained through the ordinary legal process in a country whose legal system is recognized by the U.S., but often will not give legal effect to legal procedures like a pre-dispute "confessions of judgment", an award of exemplary damages, an award of non-economic damages, or an award based upon a legal theory that is not recognized by the jurisdiction in which you seek to enforce the judgment.

In general, judgments of U.S. courts in tort cases are rarely recognized by other countries.

Similarly, a U.S. court, for example, would not enforce a foreign judgment, from say, ISIL controlled territory, for breach of a contract to deliver slaves to a buyer. Some Saudi Arabian money judgments are not enforced in the U.S. because the courts have held that their system does not protect basic principles of due process and the rule of law, which is why contracts with Saudi Arabia often have arbitration clauses instead of relying upon the royal courts in existence there.

Some countries might enforce a judgment entered following a trial on the merits regarding a dispute, but not a default judgment, without essentially bringing the lawsuit all over again in the country where the assets are located, applying the general principles of legal concepts known as "collateral estoppel" and "res judicata".

Most countries have special laws specifically governing when an arbitration award will be enforced with a money judgment in that jurisdiction and when it will not be enforced. This varies considerably from one country to another. The U.S. is unusually deferential to employment and consumer arbitration, but most countries will recognize express signed contractual arbitration agreements in a business to business situation that conforms to basic standards of due process.

  • Thank you for your time in answering. So technically from what you are telling me, if the original country where the dispute originates sues me and you fail to agree or show up in the court because you never intend to go back tot hat country again. Does that mean it leads to a default judgement? And in the case of enforcing this default judgement in the court you are now in, they have to do the whole suing and trial process again the new country you are in? Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 9:45
  • "Does that mean it leads to a default judgement?" Usually. "And in the case of enforcing this default judgement in the court you are now in, they have to do the whole suing and trial process again the new country you are in?" The process of recognizing foreign judgments varies, sometimes yes and sometimes not, depending mostly on the factors discussed in my answer.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 20:52

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