Pennsylvania Judgment Enforcement Laws

Judgments and Enforcement:

Any money judgment may be enforced by writ of execution against the personal property of a judgment debtor within 20 years after the entry of the judgment (42 Pa.C.S. § 5529.) and may become a lien on the real property of a judgment debtor in any county upon the entry into the record of the office of the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas in the county where the property is situated. (42 Pa.C.S. § 4303.) Such lien is enforceable for a period of five (5) years and may be revived prior to its expiration. (42 Pa.C.S. § 5526(1).)

Generally, all non-exempt tangible or intangible personal property and real property of a judgment debtor is subject to xecution. (PRCP Rule 3108.) The wages, salaries and commissions of a judgment debtor, while in the hands of the employer, are generally exempt from any attachment, execution or other process except for a judgment which relates to a divorce, support, a residential lease, federal and state taxes, union dues and health care insurance premiums as prescribed in 42 Pa.C.S. § 8127.

A judgment by confession on a note, bond or other instrument may be entered upon the filing of the instrument upon which the debt arose, an affidavit that the judgment is not being entered by confession against a natural person in connection with a consumer credit transaction, and a certificate of residence of the plaintiff and of the defendant. (PRCP Rule 2951.) A Judgment shall be entered only in the name of a holder, assignee or other transferee. (PRCP Rule 2954.) Upon the filing of the above documents, the prothonotary must enter the judgment as confessed, and must give notice to the defendant by ordinary mail at the address stated in the certificate of residence filed by the plaintiff together with a copy of all documents filed with the prothonotary in support of the confession by judgment. (PRCP Rule 2956, Rule 236.) A judgment entered by confession may be enforced in the same manner as any other money judgment rendered by the courts of the State of Pennsylvania. (PRCP Rule 2956.1.)

Foreign Judgment:

The State of Pennsylvania generally adopts the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. (42 Pa.C.S. § 4306. ) Any judgment, decree or order of a court of the United States or of any other court is entitled to full faith and credit in the State of Pennsylvania. (42 Pa.C.S. § 4306(f).)

A judgment creditor seeking to enforce a foreign judgment may file with the appropriate court, an authenticated copy of the foreign judgment, and an affidavit showing the name and last known post office address of the judgment debtor and the judgment creditor, together with a a statement that the foreign judgment is valid, enforceable and unsatisfied. The clerk of the Court and the judgment creditor are required to mail notice of the filing of the foreign judgment to the judgment debtor. The notice shall include the name and post office address of the judgment creditor and the judgment creditor’s lawyer, if any, in the state of Pennsylvania. The judgment creditor must file with the court proof of mailing the notice. Lack of mailing notice of filing by the clerk does not affect the enforcement proceedings if proof of mailing by the judgment creditor has been filed. (42 Pa.C.S. § 4306(c).)

A judgment so filed has the same effect and is subject to the same procedures, defenses and proceedings for reopening, vacating or staying as a judgment of the court in which the foreign judgment is filed, and may be enforced or satisfied in like manner. (42 Pa.C.S. § 4306(b).)

Interest:

Legal rate: The legal rate of interest is 6% per annum. (41 Pa.C.S. § 202.) The maximum lawful rate of interest for any loan or use of money in an amount of $50,000 or less in cases where no express contract is made is 6%. (41 Pa.C.S. § 201.)
The legal rate of interest is 6% per annum. (41 Pa.C.S. § 202.) The maximum lawful rate of interest for any loan or use of money in an amount of $50,000 or less in cases where no express contract is made is 6%. (41 Pa.C.S. § 201.)

Contract Rate: In any case in which advances of money, repayable on demand, to an amount not less than $5,000, are made upon warehouse receipts, bills of lading, certificates of stock, certificates of deposit, bills of exchange, bonds, or other
negotiable instruments, pledged as collateral security for such repayment, the rate of interest may be such rate as may be agreed to between the parties in writing. (41 Pa.C.S. § 1.)

Judgment rate: A judgment for a specific sum of money shall bear interest at the lawful rate from the date of the verdict or award, or from the date of the judgment, if the judgment is not entered upon a verdict or award. (42 Pa.C.S. § 8101.)

Exemptions:

In general, a debtor may claim exemption of certain personal property from attachment or execution or forced sale for the payment of debts. The Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes contains no provision for homestead exemption.

Pennsylvania does not permit waiver of the exemptions from attachment or execution granted by statute by the debtor by express or implied contract before or after the commencement of the matter, the entry of judgment or otherwise. (42 Pa.C.S. § 8122.) A judgment debtor generally is entitled to exemption from execution certain general monetary exemptions up to $300 in bank notes, money, securities, real property, judgments or other indebtedness due the judgment debtor. (42 Pa.C.S. § 8123.)

Particular enumerated items of personal property which may be exempt may include goods such as wearing apparel, bibles and school books, sewing machines belonging to seamstresses or used and owned by private families, but not including sewing machines kept for sale or hire, and uniforms and accouterments; qualified retirement funds and accounts, pension or annuity, insurance proceeds, social security benefits, and workers’ compensation benefits. (42 Pa.C.S. § 8124.)

Statutes of Limitations

Civil actions generally can be commenced only within certain time limitations. The time generally runs from the date a cause of action accrues or from the date injury or damages are discovered or should have been discovered.

When a cause of action accrues is a critical issue and may be different on a case by case basis. A creditor should always consult actual legal counsel to determine its right to action under the applicable statutes. Some of the time limitations relevant to credit and collection matters are as follows:

Written or oral Contract 4 years 42 Pa.C.S. § 5525.
Injury to personal property 2 years 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524.
Contract for sale of goods 4 years 13 Pa.C.S. § 2725
Action for relief not otherwise limited by Statute 6 years

42 Pa.C.S. § 5527

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