International debt collection enforcement
Do you have a court order against your international debtor? Then this verdict will have to be carried out. If your debtor refuses to comply, then you will have to take additional measures to enforce the court order, regardless of where your debtor is located. Our international debt collection lawyers will be happy to assist you with the enforcement of foreign judgments.
Litigation against your foreign debtor
If your international debtor refuses to pay your invoice, you can take legal action. Before doing so, you will have to determine which court has jurisdiction. In other words, in which country can litigation take place: in your country or in the country your debtor is located?
Many companies make agreements about this in their contract or general terms and condition. These stipulate the country in which litigation should take place in the event of a payment dispute. In most cases, the rule of thumb is that your debtor will be summoned to appear in court in the country the debtor is located. If you conduct international business, this means that you will have to start legal proceedings abroad.
Debt collection enforcement against your foreign debtor
In the course of legal proceedings, a judge announces a verdict. Your debtor can voluntarily comply, or you will have to take additional measures to ensure that the judgment is correctly enforced. These additional debt collection enforcement measures must take place in the country where your debtor is located.
For example, say you have received a court order that your Belgium debtor has to pay the entire amount of the outstanding claim, including interest and costs. If your Belgian customer refuses to comply, then a bailiff in Belgium will be hired, who has the authority to seize your debtor’s movable property or bank balances. The enforcement of a judgment differs in each country. Different rules and regulations may apply, which our debt collection lawyers can explain in more detail.
How can we help you?
- The enforcement of a foreign judgment in your own country
- The enforcement of a judgment from your country abroad
- Conducting legal proceedings in your country or abroad
- Advice on the competent court and applicable law
- Drafting general terms and conditions
- Advice on the use of general terms and conditions in international trade relations
International debt collection enforcement within Europe
In Europe, rules have been drafted in such a way that the enforcement of a foreign judgment is relatively simple. These rules were established in 2015 and are stipulated in the EEX Regulations.
Before the EEX Regulations were introduced, a foreign judgment first had to be sent to the court of the country where your debtor was located. The judge had to assess whether the verdict could be approved according to the regulations of that country. With the introduction of the EEX Regulations, a judgment announced in an EU member state (provided it has a special certificate) can be enforced directly in another EU member state.
When do the EEX Regulations apply?
- The judgment is issued after 10th January 2015. (If your judgment is before this date, then the EEX Regulations may also apply. However, you will then have to proceed via the executor procedure in order to have the judgment recognised by the foreign court).
- You have a commercial claim such as a judicial debt collection.
- The counterparty is located in an EU Member State.
International debt collection enforcement outside Europe
Judgments obtained in countries outside Europe are not subjected to the rules of the EEX Regulations. However, even then our international lawyers will be happy to assist you in obtaining and enforcing your judgment.
Advantages when hiring our international debt recovery solicitors
- We take care of the entire process: from initiating legal proceedings to the enforcement of judgments
- Extensive knowledge and experience with enforcing judgments
- International expertise
- We retrieve the payment you are entitled to
- We act as soon as we have received the judgment.
Collaborating with international bailiffs
Depending on where your debtor is located, we collaborate with bailiffs in order to enforce a judgment abroad. With our network of international bailiffs, we can proceed as soon as we have obtained a court order against your international debtor.
How are foreign debt collection judgments enforced?
The way in which a judgment can be enforced abroad depends on the rules that apply in that country. Below you will find an overview of how enforcement takes place in various European countries.
Enforcement of foreign judgments in Belgium
Is your debtor located in Belgium and do you have a judgment against your Belgian customer? In order to execute your judgment, a bailiff must sign a document stating that the judgment falls under the authorisation of the bailiff. Your debtor will then receive a court order stating that the claim must be paid.
What if your Belgian customer refuses to pay even after the judgment has been announced? Then the bailiff can proceed with the seizure of goods and sales of goods. A date is scheduled on which the goods will be publicly sold. The duration of this procedure is determined by two factors:
- How many measures does the bailiff have to undertake to ensure that the judgment is carried out?
- What if the debtor lodges an appeal or objects to the verdict? Then a debtor has one month to appeal the judgment. The duration of the procedure to appeal may last several months.
Only a Belgian bailiff is authorised to enforce a judgment. Our Belgian lawyers work closely with bailiffs in Belgium. This allows us to act quickly once we have received a judgment against your Belgian debtor.
Enforcement of foreign judgments in France
In France, a judgment must be served within six months after obtaining the verdict. Once the judgment has been officially delivered to your French debtor, a bailiff can immediately proceed with the seizure of assets. Unlike other European bailiffs, a French bailiff may also request the bank details of the debtor in order to register these in an official database.
Enforcement of foreign judgments in Germany
Once a verdict has been announced against your German debtor, you and your debtor will receive an official document from the court. This document will be labeled with the text 'Vollstreckbare Ausfertigung', which translates to 'enforceable document'. This document states that the judgment can be enforced by the German bailiff. With this document, a German bailiff may for example proceed with the public sale of movable property. The costs of executing a judgment as well as the duration may differ from those in your county.
Enforcement of foreign judgments in Italy
For the enforcement procedure in Italy, a request is submitted to the competent Italian district court. You will receive a document from the court which you must send to your Italian debtor by registered post. After receiving the judgment, your debtor has 10 days to pay the outstanding claim. This request must include all information on your debtor's assets. This allows the Italian bailiff to take immediate action. In Italy the bailiff may seize the following:
- Movable property
- Immovable property
- Bank balances.
The seizure of immovable property can take much longer than the seizure of movable property or bank balances. In most cases, a settlement can still be reached during this phase.
Enforcement of foreign judgments in Poland
Have you received a judgment against a debtor located in Poland? In Poland, the enforcement procedure is carried out by a Polish bailiff. The judgment, including the required documents, is sent to the bailiff, who will then proceed with the enforcement. The Polish bailiff will first conduct a thorough investigation and assess the debtor's assets. A Polish bailiff has various means to recover a claim from your debtor. They can seize the following:
- The bank balances
- Immovable property
In addition, the bailiff may also sell the debtor's business. The creditor decides which measures will be taken while the Polish bailiff act according to the desired request. The duration of the enforcement period differs per case. In most cases, the duration to successfully collect a claim may vary between one to twelve months.
Enforcement of foreign judgments in Romania
Is your debtor located in Romania and have you received a judgment against your debtor? Then a Romanian bailiff must be hired to enforce the judgment. Within three days of receiving the request, this bailiff will decide whether or not to file for enforcement. After that, the bailiff will start the execution of the judgment. For the execution of a judgment against your client, the Romanian bailiff has a number of possibilities. They can seize the following:
- Movable property
- Immovable property
- Garnishment (e.g. seizure of wages, seizure of your customer's claims against other parties).
The Romanian bailiff will only act at the request of the creditor. You must therefore indicate the means to be used to enforce the judgment. Several means may also be used at the same time to ensure that you retrieve your payment. The duration of the enforcement depends on which means is chosen. In addition, a debtor also has the possibility to appeal the judgment. If an appeal is not lodged, the execution in Romania will take place between one month to six months.
Enforcement of foreign judgments in Spain
Do you have a judgment against your Spanish debtor? In order to enforce a judgment in Spain, a request for the enforcement must be sent to the Spanish court. According to the EEX Regulations, this step should no longer be necessary for judgments obtained in Europe. However, because Spain does not have an independent bailiff similar to other European countries, this is not the case. Therefore, all foreign judgments must always first be sent to the Spanish court. The Spanish court has a specialised department for the enforcement of judgments. They are responsible for the following Spanish enforcement measures:
- Seizure of assets
- Public sale of goods
- Seizure of tax refund.
From the 'servicio de notificaciones y embargos' or 'servicio común de embargos', civil servants act as the bailiff. The Registrar issues the order or seizing the debtor’s assets and arranges the public sale of goods that have been seized. Spanish court officials ensure that the enforcement measures are carried out.
Enforcement of foreign judgments in the UK
Is your debtor located in the UK and do you have a verdict against your debtor? Then you may apply for the bankruptcy petition against your foreign debtor. After your British debtor has received the court order to pay, you may submit a 'statutory demand' stating that you will apply for bankruptcy if the payment is not made within 21 days. As this can be done relatively quickly without legal proceedings, this is a strong means of pressurising your debtor. In the UK there are several possibilities to enforce a judgment:
- Charging or order: the seizure of your debtor’s assets
- Taking control of goods: here, too, the debtor's goods are seized
- Third-party debt order: in this case, you debtor’s bank account is (partially) frozen by the court
- Attachment of earnings: your debtor’s income will be directly transferred to you as the creditor.
In the UK the seizure of assets is done by a Sheriff (a private bailiff) or a bailiff (an ordinary bailiff). This depends on where the judgment has been obtained. If you have a verdict from the High Court, then a Sheriff will be hired. A bailiff is called in when the County Court makes a judgment.
Our international debt collection specialists
Do you have an outstanding invoice with a foreign debtor? Are you looking for a party who can not only legally help you with your debt collection case but also ensure the enforcement of court orders? Then transfer your case to our debt collection specialists and international lawyers. Our specialists will then get straight to work for you.