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International Union of Judicial Officers
Au service de la profession d'huissier de justice dans le monde depuis 1952
At the Service of the Profession of Judicial Officer in the World since 1952
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HomeSéparateurFocusSéparateurInstitutionsSéparateurEuropean CommissionSéparateurParticipation of the UIHJ in the public hearing of the European Commission on the attachment of bank accounts
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Participation of the UIHJ in the public hearing of the European Commission on the attachment of bank accounts

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The UIHJ, represented by its president Leo Netten, participated on 1 June 2010 at the European Commission in a public hearing on the European project of attachment of bank accounts

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It is within the general framework of the revision of Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on Jurisdiction, Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (Brussels I Regulation) that the European Commission wanted to consider a new perspective in the European project on attachment of bank accounts, which was the subject of a Green Paper in 2006. Representatives of member countries of the European Union were invited to discuss the need to improve the enforcement of court decisions relating to cross-border debt collection through this instrument. The European Commission did not fail to encourage judicial officers to speak on this issue that primarily concerns them in their capacity as enforcement agents. The UIHJ was thus represented by its president, Leo Netten, and its first secretary, Mathieu Chardon. A delegation of the National Chamber of Judicial officers of France was also present, headed by its president, Jean-Daniel Lachkar. Several law professors were also invited, including two members of the Scientific Council of the UIHJ in the person of Burkhard Hess (University of Heidelberg, Germany) and Ton Jongbloed (University of Utrecht, Netherlands).

The meeting was led by Salla Saastamoinen, Head of Civil Justice Unit of the Directorate General Justice, Freedom and Security of the European Commission. Mrs Saastamoinen invited the participants to express themselves by stating that the hearing was part of the draft impact assessment on the proposed attachment of bank accounts.

Leo Netten discussed the outline of the presentation of the position paper prepared by the UIHJ on the topic of a European attachment of bank accounts. He specifically indicated that a bank attachment is an enforcement measure that cannot be assimilated to a simple notification or service. He added that enforcement measures should be undertaken by a qualified, competent and accountable professional, able to deliver formal and binding documents: the enforcement agent (judicial officer). It is still the enforcement agent who should intervene to convert the bank attachments enforcement measure, according to internal or community rules. To be effective, the garnishee should be required to report without delay to the enforcement agent the extent of its obligations towards the debtor. Moreover, the enforcement agent carries an enforcement writ and he - alone - should have full access to information enabling him to accomplish his mission, to avoid the harmful effects of the "Fishing arrestment" mentioned in the green book. President Netten indeed recalled that Recommendation Rec(2003)17 of the Council of Europe on enforcement advocates that all executions are carried out by an enforcement agent.

For his part, Jean-Daniel Lachkar fully adhered to the words of Leo Netten. For him, the procedure must be autonomous, involves the authorization of the judge, and must be accomplished without the knowledge of the debtor to avoid transfers. "The defendant must however be able to challenge the procedure and therefore must be therefore duly informed in time afterwards” added the French president.

For Frederick George, Professor at the Faculty of Liege (Belgium) strict criteria is required as "Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights is at stake."

After an interesting debate, Salla Saastamoinen thanked all the participants. She stressed that the idea of an autonomous instrument seemed to prevail in the discussions and recalled that the work of the day was to be part of the impact study conducted by the Commission.
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