Dear colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

A year like no other is about to end.

A year that has deeply changed and disrupted our lives, both professional and private.

A year that has marked us and left a lasting and unprecedented mark on the world.

The health crisis, which in most countries still hits us hard, has forced us to adapt in our daily lives and in the way we work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us above all how vulnerable we are.

The economic and therefore financial impact within the profession has been enormous, especially in countries where the judicial officer exercises his profession under a liberal status.  He had to cease his professional activities for several months, notwithstanding the fact that the costs in relation to his office continued to run.

The UIHJ was obviously obliged to react.

In this way, we have drawn up an official position paper to make the authorities of our member countries understand how the judicial officer can help overcome the economic crisis in relation to the COVID-19  pandemic.

It has been widely spread within the National Chambers of our member countries, but also to the European and international institutions and organizations with which the UIHJ works closely.

We were forced to cancel the UIHJ Spring Permanent Council, which should have been held in Belgrade in May of this year. We had to organize our Permanent Council in November in virtual form only – a first in the history of our organization. And we have taken the decision to postpone the 24th UIHJ International Congress, which was originally scheduled for March 2021 to take place in November only next year, while hoping that by then the situation has normalized and we will be able to get together again.

We also had to mourn the death of our dear President Jacques Isnard, honorary president of our organization, who- like no one else – embodied the spirit of the UIHJ, the great family of judicial officers during the fifteen years of his presidency, from 1994 to 2009, and well beyond. President Jacques Isnard was a victim of the Covid-19.

Throughout 2020, we have constantly had to adapt and above all be innovative and proactive in order to ensure the representation and defense of the interests of the profession of a judicial officer, wherever necessary.

We found that the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated the process of digitization, a process that will no longer be able to be stopped.

We must consider this year 2020 not as a lost year, but as a year that has shown us the need for the judicial officer to be modernized, even to reinvent himself and be part of this process of digitalization which will become more and more important and which will certainly not spare the justice sector.

Whether in terms of e-service of documents, e-enforcement, or the enforcement of digital assets, we must ensure that the judicial officer becomes the main actor.

The disruption caused by COVID-19 will lead to heavy global economic losses: bankruptcies, unemployment, and over-indebtedness.

Social and economic developments in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis will require a different approach to enforcement systems, debt collection, and also the profession of a judicial officer.

Nevertheless, the implementation of enforcement proceedings must remain human – and this is the card that enforcement officers must play. Socio-economic rights imply the obligation of the state to guarantee, respect, and protect the various interests that are involved.

It must be stressed that the judicial officer is the perfect actor to ensure a proper balance between the rights of the creditor and the rights of the debtor.

The judicial officer is one of the emblematic figures of legal security.

He plays an essential role in ensuring both the effectiveness and efficiency of the enforcement of court decisions, but he will never act blindly.

He is the interface between the citizen and the judge.

The year 2021 awaits us with many new challenges and we are ready to take on them!

2021 gives us hope of getting out of this crisis and offers us new prospects for our professional future.

I invite all of you to follow the work of the UIHJ and to support us in our efforts.

Only by remaining united, we will be able to maintain a strong and high-level professional in the service of Justice.

I wish you on behalf of the entire board of the UIHJ and of course, on my own behalf, happy holidays, and I hope to see each of you in good health and in the very near future.

Take care of yourself and of all those that are dear to you.

OUR UNION IS OUR STRENGTH!

Marc SCHMITZ

President of UIHJ