Advisory Commission Comments to Rules 3A.01 – 3A.04

Advisory Commission Comments [2013]

Tennessee trial courts have not followed a uniform procedure in enrolling and enforcing foreign judgments.  Some trial courts have considered that a complaint or motion for default is necessary under the Rules of Civil Procedure to enroll or enforce by execution a domesticated foreign judgment, despite the adoption of the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 26-6-104108 (2000 & Supp. 2011).  The Act’s purpose to streamline the procedure for enrolling and enforcing foreign judgments is hampered by courts’ uncertainty whether enrolling a foreign judgment should be treated as commencing a civil action, requiring commencement by a complaint and, upon lack of response by the judgment debtor after service, requiring entry of a default upon proper motion.

Rule 3A has been adopted to ensure that trial courts follow the same process throughout the state.  It makes clear that where a foreign judgment is enrolled pursuant to the Act and is undisputed, no complaint is necessary to enroll the judgment or issue execution upon it.  Similarly, no motion for default or entry of default judgment is necessary before execution may issue.  See also Advisory Commission Comment [2013] to Tenn. R. App. P. 55.

If a judgment debtor does dispute the Notice of Filing Foreign Judgment, Tennessee’s Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act entitles the debtor to a trial on the merits concerning the underlying validity of the judgment, and the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure govern the trial on the merits on that answer and response.

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