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Tracing Assets and Enforcing Obligations

I have a dispute. The other party lives abroad. Does the person have any assets?

Thirty five years ago when I was a young trainee solicitor (UK lawyer) and I wanted to start a court case on behalf of a client my boss said to me "yes, it's a good case - but does he have any wool on his back?".

This is a major lesson that some people never learn. There is no point in suing somebody unless they have some money or the ability to give you what you want and there is no point in trying to enforce any judgement that you have obtained unless you are able to locate any assets that might belong to the person in question. This is as true overseas as it is in your own country. Indeed, given the extra cost of taking international enforcement proceedings, it is probably even more important.

There are many sources of information. These range from public records through personal enquiries to the downright 'unofficial'.

In most cases, you will be able to go some way towards establishing whether a person has any assets and where they are located but, if the person has been keen to cover his tracks, you will probably not discover the whole story and - even if you do locate the assets - you may find that there are obsticles in the way of seizing them.

If you are thinking of taking any significant action in relation to assets in another country it is best to ask your lawyer to see whether any assets can be traced before you waste your time and money on fruitless court proceedings.

Our local members would be pleased to discuss with you the options that may be available to you and recommend the ones that are likely to be the most cost effective in your case.

Next steps

Please look at the Legal Guides, videos, MP3 seminars and other materials set out to the right of this page.

If you would like us to help you, please complete our Client Pack and send it back to us. We will contact you to clarify your requirements and then introduce you to the person most appropriate to deal with your case.

If you do not find the information that you need, please send us an email explaining your problem and we will contact you.

© The International Law Partnership Ltd. Page last revised 8th February 2010