Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 1. Judgments and Decrees.


§ 15–101. Enforceable period of judgments; expiration.

(a) Except as provided by subsection (b) of this section, every final judgment or final decree for the payment of money rendered in the —

(1) United States District Court for the District of Columbia; or

(2) Superior Court of the District of Columbia,

when filed and recorded in the office of the Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia, is enforceable, by execution issued thereon, for the period of twelve years only from the date when an execution might first be issued thereon, or from the date of the last order of revival thereof. The time during which the judgment creditor is stayed from enforcing the judgment, by written agreement filed in the case, or other order, or by the operation of an appeal, may not be computed as a part of the period within which the judgment is enforceable by execution.

(b) At the expiration of the twelve-year period provided by subsection (a) of this section, the judgment or decree shall cease to have any operation or effect. Thereafter, except in the case of a proceeding that may be then pending for the enforcement of the judgment or decree, action may not be brought on it, nor may it be revived, and execution may not issue on it.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 522, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; Nov. 2, 1966, 80 Stat. 1177, Pub. L. 89-745, §§ 1(a), 7; Mar. 11, 1968, 82 Stat. 42, Pub. L. 90-263, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 553, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 144(1).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 15-101.

1973 Ed., § 15-101.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-578 and § 46-215.

Cross References

Action of account, see § 16-101.

Adoption proceedings, entry of interlocutory or final decrees, see § 16-309.

Child support, withholding of income after lapse, see § 46-215.

Enforcement of foreign judgments, see § 12-307.

Interest on judgments, see § 15-108 et seq.

Superior Court judgments, lapse, see § 16-578.

Editor's Notes

Section 27 of D.C. Law 15-354 provided that Title 15 is designated Title 15 of the District of Columbia Official Code.


§ 15–102. Lien of judgment, decree, or forfeited recognizance.

(a) Each —

(1) final judgment or decree for the payment of money rendered in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, or the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, from the date such judgment or decree is filed and recorded in the office of the Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia, and

(2) recognizance taken by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, or the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, from the date the entry or order of forfeiture of such recognizance is filed and recorded in the office of the Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia, shall constitute a lien on all the freehold and leasehold estates, legal and equitable, of the defendants bound by such judgment, decree, or recognizance, in any land, tenements, or hereditaments in the District of Columbia, whether the estates are in possession or are reversions or remainders, vested or contingent. Such liens on equitable interest may be enforced only by an action to foreclose.

(b) Liens created as provided by this section continue as long as the judgment, decree, or recognizance is in force or until it is satisfied or discharged.

(c) This section shall not apply to any property that is owned by the District government or by any independent agency or instrumentality of the District government, nor to any property in which the District government or any independent agency or instrumentality of the District government has an interest, to the extent of that interest.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 523, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; Nov. 2, 1966, 80 Stat. 1177, Pub. L. 89-745, §§ 2, 7; Mar. 11, 1968, 82 Stat. 42, Pub. L. 90-263, § 2; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 553, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 144(2); June 6, 1996, D.C. Law 11-136, § 2, 43 DCR 2127.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 15-102.

1973 Ed., § 15-102.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 42-1210.

Cross References

Fees for the services of Recorder of Deeds, see § 42-1210.

Forfeited recognizances and judgments, executions upon, see § 16-709.

Purchase money lien, priority, see § 15-104.

Recorder of Deeds, fees, see § 42-1210.

Writ of execution, period during which writ may be issued or returned, see § 15-302.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 2 of the Property Lien Emergency Amendment Act of 1995 (D.C. Act 11-168, December 8, 1995, 42 DCR 7067) and § 2 of the Property Lien Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1996 (D.C. Act 11-224, March 7, 1996, 43 DCR 1420).

Section 3 of D.C. Act 11-168 and § 3 of D.C. Act 11-224 provided for the retroactivity of the amendment by § 2 of the act.

Temporary Legislation

Section 2 of D.C. Law 11-108 added (c).

Section 3 of D.C. Law 11-108 provided that subsection (c) of § 15-102 shall be fully retroactive. Section 3 of D.C. Law 11-108, also provided that the Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia shall forthwith cause to be released from the records under his or her control all liens against property that is owned by the District government or by any independent agency or instrumentality of the District government, or in which the District government or any independent agency or instrumentality of the District government has an interest, to the extent of that interest.

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 11-108 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Editor's Notes

Retroactivity of D.C. Law 11-136: Section 3 of D.C. Law 11-136 provided that § 2 of the act “shall be fully retroactive. The Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia shall forthwith cause to be released, from the records under the control of the Recorder of Deeds, all judgment liens against property that is owned by the District government or by any independent agency or instrumentality of the District government, or property in which the District government or any independent agency or instrumentality of the District government has an interest, to the extent of that interest.”


§ 15–103. Effect of revival.

An order of revival issued upon a judgment or decree during the period of twelve years from the rendition or from the date of an order reviving the judgment or decree, extends the effect and operation of the judgment or decree with the lien thereby created and all the remedies for its enforcement for the period of twelve years from the date of the order.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 523, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 15-103.

1973 Ed., § 15-103.

Cross References

Levy of attachment upon specific property as prerequisite to condemnation and sale, see § 16-555.


§ 15–104. Priority of liens.

The lien of a mortgage or deed of trust upon real property, given by the purchaser to secure the payment of the whole or any part of the purchase-money, is superior to that of a previous judgment or decree against the purchaser.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 523, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 15-104.

1973 Ed., § 15-104.


§ 15–105. Decree confirming sale of property; effect; ordering conveyance.

A decree confirming the sale of real or personal property sold pursuant to a decree, divests the right, title, or interest sold out of the former owner, party to the action, and vests it in the purchaser, without any conveyance by the officer or agent of the court conducting the sale. The decree constitutes notice to all persons of the transfer of title when a copy thereof is registered among the land-records of the District. In particular cases, the court may order its officer or agent to make a conveyance, if that mode is deemed preferable.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 523, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 15-105.

1973 Ed., § 15-105.

Cross References

Deficiency decrees in cases of mortgage foreclosures, see § 42-816.


§ 15–106. Judgment and damages assessed in actions on bonds or penal sums.

(a) In a civil action on a bond or on a penal sum for the nonperformance of covenants or agreements contained in an indenture, deed, or writing, the plaintiff may assign as many breaches as he chooses. Damages shall be assessed for such breaches as he proves and judgment rendered for the whole penalty, but execution shall issue for as much only as is found in damages, with costs.

(b) In an action brought under subsection (a) of this section, upon judgment for the plaintiff on motion, default, or confession, the plaintiff may assign as many breaches as he chooses, the truth of which shall be determined. The damages shall be assessed and execution shall issue for such damages only, with costs.

(c) Payment into court, after entry of judgment and prior to the issuance of execution, of the amount of the damages and costs assessed, for the use of the plaintiff or his representatives, stays execution, and the stay shall be entered on the record. Payment to the plaintiff or his representatives, after execution, of the amount of the damages and costs assessed, together with all fees and other reasonable costs of execution, forthwith discharges the defendant’s real and personal property from execution, and the discharge shall be entered on the record. However, the judgment shall remain as a security to the plaintiff or his representatives for any other breaches which he or they afterwards prove. From time to time, the plaintiff may, by motion and hearing, with reasonable notice to the defendant, assign other breaches, and damages shall be assessed for such breaches as he proves, with costs. Payment into court, before execution, or to the plaintiff or his representative, after execution, as herein described, has the same effect as hereinbefore directed.

(d) In proceedings under this section, the right of trial by jury, as to issues of fact and the amount of damages to be assessed, is preserved.

(e) This section is subject to section 28-2502 of this Code and to section 1874 of Title 28, United States Code.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 523, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; Aug. 30, 1964, 78 Stat. 677, Pub. L. 88-509, § 3(a).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 15-106.

1973 Ed., § 15-106.


§ 15–107. Setting off judgments.

Where reciprocal claims between different parties have passed into judgments the court, on motion, may order that the judgments be set off against each other and satisfaction of both be entered to the amount of the smaller claim.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 524, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 15-107.

1973 Ed., § 15-107.


§ 15–108. Interest on judgment for liquidated debt.

In an action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to recover a liquidated debt on which interest is payable by contract or by law or usage the judgment for the plaintiff shall include interest on the principal debt from the time when it was due and payable, at the rate fixed by the contract, if any, until paid.


(Aug. 30, 1964, 78 Stat. 677, Pub. L. 88-509, § 3(b)(1); July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 553, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 144(3).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 15-108.

1973 Ed., § 15-108.


§ 15–109. Interest on judgment for damages in contract or tort.

In an action to recover damages for breach of contract the judgment shall allow interest on the amount for which it is rendered from the date of the judgment only. This section does not preclude the jury, or the court, if the trial be by the court, from including interest as an element in the damages awarded, if necessary to fully compensate the plaintiff. In an action to recover damages for a wrong the judgment for the plaintiff shall bear interest.


(Aug. 30, 1964, 78 Stat. 677, Pub. L. 88-509, § 3(b)(1).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 15-109.

1973 Ed., § 15-109.


§ 15–110. Interest on judgment on contracts made elsewhere.

In an action on a contract for the payment of a higher rate of interest than is lawful in the District, made or to be performed in a State or territory of the United States where such a contract rate of interest is lawful, the judgment for the plaintiff shall include the contract interest to the date of the judgment and interest thereafter at the rate of 6 per cent per annum until paid.


(Aug. 30, 1964, 78 Stat. 678, Pub. L. 88-509, § 3(b)(1).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 15-110.

1973 Ed., § 15-110.


§ 15–111. Counsel fee in proceeding on bond or undertaking.

In a proceeding in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to recover damages upon a bond or undertaking given to obtain a restraining order or preliminary or pendente lite injunction, the Court, in assessing damages to be recovered thereunder, may include such reasonable counsel fees as the party damaged by the restraining order or injunction may have incurred in obtaining a dissolution thereof.


(Aug. 30, 1964, 78 Stat. 678, Pub. L. 88-509, § 3(b)(1); July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 553, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 144(3).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 15-111.

1973 Ed., § 15-111.


§ 15–131. Judgments and executions generally; interest [Repealed]

Repealed.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 553, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 144(4)(A).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., §§ 15-131 to 15-133.


§ 15–132. Enforceable period of unrecorded judgments; enforcement of judgments, etc., of the District of Columbia Court of General Sessions [Repealed]

Repealed.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 553, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 144(4)(A).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., §§ 15-131 to 15-133.


§ 15–133. Satisfaction of judgment; recordation [Repealed]

Repealed.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 553, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 144(4)(A).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., §§ 15-131 to 15-133.