As of December 2020, there is a new state-run enforcement authority in Finland and the former enforcement network consisting of the National Administrative Office for Enforcement as well as the 22 regional enforcement offices no longer exist. These parties merged into one enforcement authority, born on December 1st,, after which the new National Enforcement Authority in Finland assumed the responsibility for all the former duties of the local enforcement offices. The National Enforcement Authority is an agency under the Ministry of Justice, charged with the independent performance of statutory enforcement duties. It enforces court judgments and collects directly enforceable receivables, such as fines, taxes and insurance premiums upon application and possesses both the rights and the obligations within the sphere of an authority.
The reorganization was thoroughly planned for several years, in which different projects were conducted to path the way for what was coming. The aim of the reorganization was to exercise enforcement in the most effective way – both cost-effective and result effective. The main change after December has been the division of enforcement measures into three separate units; the Basic Enforcement Unit, the Extensive Enforcement Unit and the Special Enforcement Unit.
In the planning of the reorganization it was estimated that as much as 80 % of the monetary enforcement tasks could be handled without meeting debtors in person. Such tasks are today performed by the national Basic Enforcement Unit, through ICT solutions, electronical customer solutions, telephone and e-mail correspondence. Only natural persons are handled in the Basic Enforcement Unit and only certain types of enforcement are conducted, such as enforcement of pay or other recurring income. Enforcement of movable assets or real property cannot be conducted in the unit.
The enforcement of movable assets or real property as well as more demanding enforcement tasks or tasks where there is a need to be in contact with the debtor in person are performed in the Extensive Enforcement Units. These units are located regionally in the enforcement region of Northern Finland, Western Finland, the Interior of Finland, Eastern Finland and Southern Finland. The Extensive Enforcement Units are responsible for selling distrained assets and for the conduction of other more demanding enforcement tasks within their respective jurisdictions. If an enforcement matter requires measures outside the competence of the Basic Enforcement Unit, the case is immediately transferred to the region’s Extensive Enforcement Unit, from which the case is later transferred back after the measure has been conducted. The Extensive Enforcement Units and the new national Special Enforcement Unit can enforce all types of pending obligations and preventive measures.
The national Special Enforcement Unit manages enforcement tasks requiring a lot of time and investigation, cooperates with other authorities and participates in the fight against financial crime and financial misconduct.
The officials are called “Enforcement officers”, as a general term for officials who carry out enforcement duties. Each debtor has an enforcement officer in charge, who exercises independent decision-making power in enforcement tasks in its own judicial unit. The officers have different names depending on the unit, as the officers of the Basic Enforcement Unit are called Enforcement Inspectors whereas the officers of Extensive and Special Enforcement Units are called Senior Enforcement Inspectors. As their supervisor is a Senior Enforcement Officer whereas the whole unit is led by the Chief Enforcement Officer.Director General and Deputy Director General of National Enforcement Authority Finland are also enforcement officers within the meaning of the law. All Enforcement officers are civil servants.
Enforcement cannot be conducted without a well-functioning service unit, of which the National General Service is responsible. It handles the registration of enforcement cases, document management, payment transactions, customer service – both through telephone and at regional service points – and support functions related to enforcement auctions and other enforcement activities. Monitoring all abovementioned processes is the Central Administration of the Enforcement Authority, which manages administrative steering, development and gives an oversight of the enforcement service. The Central Administration is responsible for the Authority’s performance and results but does not, however, get involved in individual enforcement cases, which are handled independently by the enforcement units. Competence in individual enforcement cases lies with the enforcement officer in charge of the matter, and the Central Administration does not, for example, amend decisions made in individual enforcement cases.
The new organization entered place in a difficult time during the corona pandemic tempting the country, as well as the rest of the world. The enforcement organization is now two months into its path, and it is a bit too early for any measurable results to be given. On the plus side, however, was the electronic transport from the old system of 22 regions into a new system which succeeded very well with a shorter delay than anticipated. On the plus side as well a clear division of the units and their jurisdictions and the legal establishment of the special enforcement as part of the Finnish enforcement.
More information is found on the webpage https://www.ulosottolaitos.fi/en/index.html
Senior Enforcement Officer, Extensive Enforcement Unit, Western Finland
International Liaison Officer of the Finnish Association of Bailiffs.