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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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The Service of Documents at the Centre of the 49th EJN Meeting

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The UIHJ participated on 16 May 2014 in Brussels in the 49th Meeting of the European Judicial Network in civil matters in Brussels on the European Regulation on Service of Documents

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The meeting was led by Pál Sziranyi, Unit A.1 - Civil justice policy unit, DG Justice (European Commission). It concerned the application of Regulation (EC) No 1393/ 2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2007 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters (Regulation 1393). The UIHJ was represented by its first secretary, Mathieu Chardon.

On 4 December 2014, the European Commission submitted a report to the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee on the application of Regulation 1393. On 6 January 2014 the UIHJ wrote comments on this report and sent it to the European Commission. This report is available on the website of the UIHJ.

The agenda of the meeting reviewed various aspects covered in the report of the European Commission:
- Actors in the process of service of documents;
- Fictitious service methods;
- Different forms of service;
- Electronic service;
- Direct service;
- Languages issues and right of refusal for lack of translation;
- Cost of the service;
- And standards forms.

The first secretary exposed the positions promoted by the UIHJ since the first Regulation of 29 May 2000. Regarding cross-border service of documents, it is necessary to provide European litigants a necessary and sufficient level of legal certainty, especially in the case of a document initiating proceedings. If postal service combines simplicity at a low cost, it does not allow in many cases to ensure the necessary security. The judge who must ensure that the defendant was duly informed of the notice of hearing is often not able to do so when the document was served by post. To solve this problem, the UIHJ proposed in 2009 to create a harmonised document instituting proceedings at European level, and drafted a model.

About unknown address of the addressee and fictitious service, Mathieu Chardon said that in some countries such as France, Belgium, Luxembourg or the Netherlands, enforcement measures must be served on concerned people to be valid. Where an enforcement measure is carried out in France against a debtor residing in another Member State of the European Union, it must be served in that State. Unfortunately, when service is not effective, which is the case when the steps taken by the receiving agency of the country where the debtor lives did not succeed, this results in questioning the validity of the enforce measure.

The first secretary of the UIHJ stated that a solution should be found to solve this problem. He illustrated his words by citing the results of the Grand Questionnaire of the UIHJ sent to its members and answered by 51 states in 2012. When the recipient has no known address, the document remains unserved in around 24% of cases. In 62% of cases, a process allows to serve the document with a fictitious method. For some documents, there is a solution in some cases, in about 10% of cases.

It should be possible to use the fictitious methods of service in force in the States, when this mode exists. Otherwise, the principle of a mechanism to avoid blocking procedures should be accepted, as it is the case in the Regulation for documents instituting proceedings (Article 19 of Regulation 1393). It is necessary to protect the defendant. It is also necessary to protect the rights of the creditor and not to block enforcement procedures when everything has been carried out without success to locate the defendant.

As regards the methods of service provided for in Section 2 of Chapter 1 of the Regulation, Mathieu Chardon said the UIHJ favoured a modification of this instrument. What is provided for in Article 10 b) of the Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the service abroad of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters, should also apply in Regulation 1393. This would allow judicial officers to send directly and informally requests for service to other judicial officers.

The day's discussions were particularly rich, interesting and practical. They could serve as a working basis for the European Commission in the framework of the future reform of Regulation 1393 which aims to offer European litigants a faster, more reliable and effective cross-border service at a reasonable cost.
 
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