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Foreign LLCs and Corporations That Transact Business in Maryland But Fail to Register in Maryland Cannot File Suit Here

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

          Before transacting interstate or foreign business in Maryland, a foreign limited liability company (“LLC”) shall register to transact business with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (“SDAT”) in accordance with Md. Corp. & Ass’ns. Code Ann. § 4A-1002:

“(a) Requirement. — Before doing any interstate, intrastate, or foreign business in this State, a foreign limited liability company shall register with the Department.”

           Under § 4A-1002, a foreign LLC is required to complete an application setting forth, among other information, its name, state of organization, business purpose, and resident agent, and pay a filing fee to SDAT.

          Md. Corp. & Ass’ns. Code Ann. § 4A-1007 states that any foreign limited liability company that fails to register with the SDAT in accordance with § 4A-1002 is barred from maintaining a lawsuit in any court of this State, as follows:

“(a) Barred from maintaining suit. — If a foreign limited liability company is doing or has done any intrastate, interstate, or foreign business in this State without complying with the requirements of this subtitle, the foreign limited liability company and any person claiming under it may not maintain suit in any court of this State, unless the limited liability company shows to the satisfaction of the court that:

   (1) The foreign limited liability company or the person claiming under it has paid the penalty specified in subsection (d)(1) of this section; and

   (2) (i) The foreign limited liability company or a successor to it has complied with the requirements of this title; or

     (ii) The foreign limited liability company and any foreign limited liability company successor to it are no longer doing intrastate, interstate, or foreign business in this State.”  

In essence, Md. Corp. & Ass’ns. Code Ann. § 4A-1007 bars a foreign LLC from acting as a plaintiff in any Maryland state or federal court if the LLC is doing or has done “any intrastate, interstate, or foreign business” in Maryland without registering or qualifying with SDAT. 

Foreign corporations face nearly identical Maryland statutes.  See Md. Corp. & Ass’ns. Code Ann. §§ 7-202,  and 7-301, respectively. 

The Maryland Court of Appeals stated the following in Yangming Marine Transport Corporation v. Revon Products U.S.A., Inc., 311 Md. 496 (1988):

“As pointed out above, under § 7-301, a foreign corporation that has not complied with § 7-202 or § 7-203 is barred from suing in Maryland if the corporation “is doing . . . any intrastate, interstate, or foreign business in this State.”  …. Instead, we have held that § 7-301 embodies a test for determining whether a foreign corporation is “doing business” in Maryland. See G.E.M., Inc. v. Plough, Inc., 228 Md. 484, 486, 180 A.2d 478, 480 (1962). Under this test, § 7-301 bars an unqualified or unregistered foreign corporation from suing in Maryland courts only if the corporation is doing such a substantial amount of localized business in this State that the corporation could be deemed “present” here. See, e.g., S.A.S. Personnel Consult. v. Pat-Pan, 286 Md. 335, 339-340, 407 A.2d 1139, 1142 (1979); G.E.M., Inc. v. Plough Inc., supra, 228 Md. at 488-489, 180 A.2d at 480-481.



How to Collect on a Maryland Judgment

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Your business did what it was supposed to do when faced with a customer or client that owed money for goods or services your company provided under an agreement signed by both parties: You retained an attorney, who then filed a complaint in Maryland state court, or if the agreement called for it, filed an arbitration demand with the appropriate arbitration forum, against the other side on your company’s behalf.

Your business paid the attorney out of its own pocket and did things by the book. The other side may or may not have hired an attorney, and maybe did not take part in the case at all. Your attorney propounded discovery, the other side may or may not have complied with your requests. Your attorney attempted to depose a representative of the other side. You and your attorney showed up in court or at the arbitration on the day of the hearing, the other side may or may not have, and if they did show up, maybe with or without an attorney representing them.

The judge or arbitrator sided with your company after a trial or arbitration hearing on the merits, or your company was simply awarded a judgment by default when the other side failed to appear. In any event, your company was awarded damages, and maybe even attorney’s fees depending on what the agreement at issue said.

But when you left the hearing room that day, unfortunately you did not leave with a check from the other side. Instead, you left with a court’s order, or an arbitrator’s award, merely stating that you won and how much.

So the question now is, how do you actually get paid what the court or arbitrator awarded? Often times, the trial or arbitration is not the end, but rather only the mid-way point, of the collection process.

The first thing you must do in this situation is identify the debtor’s assets, as well as determine the value of each, by following Md. Rule 2-633, titled “Discovery in aid of enforcement.” Rule 2-633 states that you may conduct discovery in writing by mailing to the other side no more than 15 questions and requests for documents regarding the assets and other financial information of the debtor. These are known as Interrogatories in Aid of Execution. The debtor has 15 days from receipt to respond to these Interrogatories.

In addition to Interrogatories, Md. Rule 2-633(b) states that you may also petition the court to order the debtor to appear before a judge and answer under oath your questions related to the identity of the debtor’s assets. This is called requesting an Oral Examination in Aid of Enforcement of Judgment. Both of the above options may take place no earlier than 30 days after entry of the judgment.

Should the debtor ignore your Interrogatories or Request for Oral Exam, there are additional measures you may take, including filing to hold the debtor in contempt of court.

Assuming the debtor complies with your written requests or your oral exam, and you have successfully determined what assets the debtor owns and the value of each asset, now it is time to turn your attention to actually collecting on the judgment. One option you have is to garnish an individual debtor’s wages, done by filing a Request for Garnishment of Wages form with the court. You will then receive the garnished wages within 15 days of each of the debtor’s pay periods.

A second collection option is garnishing an individual or corporate debtor’s bank account. This is accomplished by filing a Request for Garnishment of Property Other Than Wages form with the court, using the financial information you gathered in your Interrogatories or Oral Exam. After 30 days, you must file an additional form, a Request for Judgment Garnishment.

Yet another collection option is seizing a debtor’s property or real estate, then selling it to help satisfy your judgment. Doing so requires the recording of your judgment in the circuit court for the county where the property is located, complete and file a Notice of Lien, and then file a Writ of Execution. This process if more complicated and time consuming than either garnishing wages or a bank account. Retaining a competent business attorney to help you in your collection efforts is a smart move.