International debt collection enforcement
What happens next after receiving a court verdict? How will you obtain the amount you are entitled to back in your bank account or have your goods back in your possession? Not only can our lawyers represent their clients in court, but they can also have measures internationally enforced. Although this also depends on the applicable debt collection law, our lawyers can explain more about international debt collection enforcement and what that means for your case.
Debt collection agent, lawyer or bailiff?
When it concerns debt collection enforcement, it is important to be aware of the different parties involved and how they can help you.
Limitations of a debt collection agency
Debt collection agencies are not authorised to recover payments or goods from debtors. They can only assist you in the pre-legal phase by reaching out to the debtor, however, they cannot legally help you or enforce debt collection measures.
Debt collection lawyers representing you
For taking legal action, a debt collection lawyer can initiate legal proceedings and represent their client in court. Once our lawyers have obtained a verdict, then under certain conditions we can make use of our network of international bailiffs who can enforce measures.
The role of a bailiff
When international debt collection enforcement is concerned, it is important to be aware of the roles of a bailiff and what they can and cannot do in each country. In some countries, bailiffs are private organisations that you can appoint yourself, however, in others, these are court-appointed officials who you cannot appoint yourself.
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. A bailiff can then, for example, seize your debtor’s assets, movable property or bank balances.
With an extensive network, we ensure that measures are acted upon swiftly and efficiently at all times. You will not waste time with any third parties or elongated processes, because these will be dealt with by our debt collection lawyers.
How can we help you?
- We take care of the entire process: from initiating legal proceedings to having measures enforced
- An extensive network of international bailiffs to have measures enforced
- Swift actions as soon as a verdict has been reached
- Advice on the use of general terms and conditions to optimise your contracts
- View the status of your case 24/7 to stay informed on the latest developments
EEX Regulations: the laws that made debt collection enforcement convenient
Initially, when a foreign judgement was sent to court in your debtor’s country, the judge would have to assess the verdict and approve the judgement according to the regulations of that country. With the introduction of the EEX Regulation in 2015, a judgement announced in an EU member state (provided it has a special certificate) can be enforced directly in another EU member state.
Judgements issued before 2015 are not automatically subjected to the EEX Regulation, however, you can proceed via an executive procedure to have the judgment recognised by the foreign court.
Judgments obtained in countries outside Europe are not subjected to the rules of the EEX Regulations. However, even then our international debt collection lawyers can help you have debt collection verdicts enforced.
Enforcement of foreign judgments in Belgium
In Belgium, only a bailiff is authorised to enforce a judgement. Because our debt collection lawyers work closely with bailiffs, we can act quickly once a verdict has been obtained. If a court has announced a verdict against a Belgian debtor, a bailiff must sign a document stating that the judgement falls under the authorisation of the bailiff. The debtor will then receive a court order stating that the claim must be paid.
If the Belgian debtor refuses to pay, then the bailiff can proceed with the seizure of goods and sale of goods. A date is scheduled on which the goods will be publicly sold. However, if the debtor appeals to the verdict, then the procedure may last several months.
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 labelled 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.
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 the Netherlands
To have your debt collection judgement enforced in the Netherlands, you will need a court order, which can only be obtained through a lawyer for high-value claims. Our Dutch lawyers will then instruct a bailiff, who is the party that is authorised to enforce a judgement in the Netherlands. This can include the seizure of your debtor’s income, wages, salaries or bank accounts and the foreclosure of movable and immovable properties.
Enforcement of foreign judgments 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
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
To enforce judgement In Romania, a bailiff must be hired as well. 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 several 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 recover your payment. The duration of the enforcement depends on which means is chosen. In addition, a debtor can also 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
Once we have obtained a judgement against your Spanish debtor, the enforcement request will have to be submitted to the Spanish Court. A sentence obtained from another Court that is a member of the EU could be executed directly in Spain without the judge having to validate the sentence. However, because Spain does not have independent bailiffs, other rules apply. The execution of a sentence in Spain is carried out by the Court under a special procedure known as the proceso de ejecución. With the help of these procedures, the following Spanish enforcement measures can be invoked:
- Seizure of assets
- The public sale of goods
- Seizure of tax refund
The civil servants within a specific department in the Court known as the servicio de notificaciones y embargos or servicio común de embargos, act as the bailiff. The Court can order to have the debtor’s assets seized, arranges the public sale of goods and ensures that enforcement measures are carried out.
Enforcement of foreign judgments in the UK
Within the debt collection sector in the UK, there are several key players and differences in the actions they can perform. For example, there are two different bailiffs who have different degrees of power. These are known as County Court bailiffs and High Court enforcement officers. With our contacts in the UK, the appropriate bailiff can be appointed and recover your payment by using one of the following enforcement procedures.
- Third-party debt order: If you are in possession of a judgment, the third-party debt order can be used to freeze the debtor’s bank account and/or assets. The third-party will be ordered to pay the debtor's money that is in their possession to satisfy the outstanding judgment.
- Charging order: A charging order allows a creditor to secure the judgment debt by imposing a charge over the debtor’s property, securities and other assets. This requires a Court application to be issued and for a Judge to make an order. This is a particularly useful form of debt collection enforcement when there is a substantial equity position in the asset.
- Winding-up petition: The winding-up petition is a procedure that is also known as compulsory liquidation and can take up to 8 weeks. If your debtor refuses to pay, the court can order the compulsory liquidation of the company. Liquidators will then be appointed to distribute any surplus across creditors.
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.