The Permanent council was opened in the presence of Ramin Garagurbanli, President of the Council of Europe’s European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice, Erekle Ghvinianidze, Deputy Minister of Justice of Georgia, and Leo Netten and Françoise Andrieux, Honorary Presidents of the UIHJ.
Marc Schmitz, president of the UIHJ, gave the following speech:
“President of the Society of Messenger-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers of Scotland,
President of the CEPEJ,
Your Excellency the Vice-Minister of Justice of Georgia,
Honorary Presidents of the UIHJ,
Heads of delegations of the UIHJ,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me welcome you to our Spring Permanent Council here in Glasgow. First of all, I want to warmly thank the President of the society of Messengers at Arms and Sheriff Officers, William Dollier, for receiving us here and for organising this UIHJ European Permanent Council in Scotland’s largest city. I am very satisfied that it is again possible for us, after our great International Congress held in Dubai last November, to meet without major restrictions, on a face-to-face meeting, here in Glasgow.
As you all know, this year, SMASO celebrates its 100th anniversary and the UIHJ its 70th anniversary. But do you know how long the SMASO already is a member of the UIHJ? 43 years! It was on 30 August 1979, at the end of the 10th congress of the UIHJ which was held in Amsterdam that SMASO became a member of our organisation. The UIHJ Permanent Council of Paris in November 1979 was an opportunity to record the participation of the first female President of a delegation, who was none other than Ms Haliday, president of SMASO!
The UIHJ came for the first time to Great Britain, here in Glasgow, for its Permanent Council of 16 and 17 May 1980, so 42 years ago! In 1994, under the presidency of Jacques Isnard, whose memory I would like to salute, our colleague Alexander Walker, better known as “Sandy”, whose memory I would also like to salute, became Permanent Secretary of the UIHJ for the English-speaking countries. In 1997, we had the honour to be at the side of SAMSO in Edinburgh to celebrate its 75th anniversary in style. The excellent relations between SMASO and the UIHJ lead the countries to elect Sandy Walker as Deputy Treasurer of the UIHJ during the International Congress of Athens in May 2000.
It was still a Scotsman whom everyone knows here, Roderick MacPherson, with a talent which belongs only to him, who was General Rapporteur of the 18th International Congress of the Judicial Officers in Tunis, in May 2003, the first International Congress on African soil, on the theme “The judicial officer and globalisation” bringing together 38 delegations and 500 participants.
Following the 19th International Congress of Judicial Officers held in Washington in May 2006, David Walker, son of Sandy Walker who passed away in 2003, was elected a member of the UIHJ board. It has therefore been 16 years that David, who is beginning his 6th consecutive mandate, is a member of the UIHJ board, of which he is Deputy Treasurer, exactly as his father was. UIHJ was of course present on 6 and 7 May 2010 in Glasgow, where everyone remembers a fantastic Permanent Council followed by an unforgettable evening crowned by a now legendary “Haggis ceremony” expertly conducted by Roderick MacPherson.
Finally, very recently, it was David Walker who had the heavy responsibility of being General Rapporteur of the 24th International Congress of Judicial Officers in Dubai in November 2021, with the success that you know.
As you can see, Scotland, a small country in terms of size and population, but huge in terms of history, heart, and exceptional resilience, has been linked to the UIHJ for more than forty years. The destinies of the UIHJ and the SMASO are intimately connected, and this calls for celebration!
I am confident that the participants of this permanent council will have the opportunity to experience the beauty of the city of Glasgow and to appreciate the hospitality of our Scottish colleagues. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Scottish Organising Committee very much for the efforts that have been made. Thank you so much!
We have just heard in the context of the introductory film the message of call for peace from the International Union of Judicial Officers. I can only reiterate this message! Needless to remind you that, from the beginning of the war initiated by the Russian Federation on Ukrainian territory, the UIHJ clearly displayed its unreserved disapproval of this aggression and its total and unconditional support for Ukraine. It is undeniable that the UIHJ, although a non-governmental and apolitical organization, has clearly stated its position and can in no way be accused of indifference towards the tragedy that has befallen the Ukrainian people.
Like the rest of the world, we learned with shock and disbelief of the Russian Federation’s attack on Ukraine on 24 February and were – and still are – horrified by the violence of the fighting and the destruction caused by this war. Upon receipt of a mail dated on 1st March from the Chamber of Private Judicial Officers of Ukraine, we immediately convened the board of the UIHJ, which met on 4th March. On the same day, we informed the Chamber of Private Judicial Officers of Ukraine of the unanimous decision of the members of the UIHJ board present at the meeting, after examination of the situation and in accordance with the statutes of the UIHJ, which provide that only a vote of the international congress of the UIHJ can exclude a member organisation.
The board of the UIHJ then proceeded to an official statement to its members, the terms of which were as follows :
“We strongly condemn the illegal and armed invasion of foreign troops into Ukraine. Such an invasion is a violation of human rights, the rule of law and the principles of international public law. As such, the board of the UIHJ, in accordance with the current statutes, has decided to impose, for an indefinite period, the strongest possible sanction:
– to suspend with immediate effect all cooperation between the UIHJ and the Federal Bailiff Service of the Russian Federation (FBS) as well as the Russian Federation itself.
– to consider any relationship between the UIHJ and the Federal Bailiff Service of the Russian Federation (FBS) as well as the Russian Federation, as totally incompatible for the time being”
The measures decided by the board of the UIHJ immediately took effect. At the same time, we informed the Federal Bailiff Service of the Russian Federation (FBS) of this decision. Since then, we have not initiated any contact, and have not been in contact with the FBS, its director, who is a member of the UIHJ board, and the Russian Federation itself. The Federal Bailiff Service of the Russian Federation (FBS) has been excluded from the organization of a joint event planned in Cuba in upcoming June. The official exclusion of the Federal Bailiff Service of the Russian Federation is therefore scheduled for the next International Congress of the UIHJ.
Last week, we were informed that on 12th May 2022, Ukrainian private enforcement officer Oleksandr Konovalov died in the conflict defending his country against the aggressor in the battlefield. May I ask you to stand up and to observe silence for a minute in memory of our colleague and in memory of all the Ukrainian victims of this horrible war.
(A MINUTE OF SILENCE).
As in the past and in the respect of traditions, this permanent council will allow us to meet, exchange and share exceptional moments. In this regard, I would like to express my deep appreciation to all the delegations that made the effort to attend our meeting. The UIHJ can only live and act through its members. Allow me also, as usual, to welcome to our organization the new Presidents who have been elected since our Dubai Congress to head their national chamber or association, namely, in alphabetical order:
Belgium : Quentin Debray (excused)
Estonia : Katrin Vellet (excused)
Georgia : Mirian Kharabadze (present)
Greece: Nikos Giannis (excused)
Kazakhstan: Aidos Imanbaev (excused)
Netherlands : Chris Bakhuis-van Kesteren (present).
Portugal : Paulo Teixeira (present)
Slovakia : Miroslav Paller (reelected, excused)
Thailand : Tussanee Pao-in (excused)
USA – NAPPS : Eric Vennes (present)
We congratulate all of them.
Those of you who follow the activities of the International Union more closely and who regularly visit our website, or our Facebook or LinkedIn pages have realized that we have continued to be present on many sides since the Dubai Congress and our activities continue unabated. During this permanent council, we will have the opportunity to review them in more detail.
Since the Dubai Congress, during which we ratified a new version of our statutes, a new category of member has emerged, that of individual member, largely inspired by the UIHJ Club which had been created about fifteen years ago now. This new category of member gives the possibility to all individuals, judicial officers or not, having expressed their interest in the work of the UIHJ and who, by the payment of an annual financial contribution – currently set at 100 € – show their support for our organization.
We will have the opportunity today to present to you in more detail this new form of membership of the UIHJ that we obviously ask you to promote in your country.
After the congress is before the congress. During the Dubai congress, the general assembly unanimously chose Brazil and more precisely the city of Rio de Janeiro as the place for the holding of the 25th edition of the International Congress of the UIHJ in 2024. We will have the opportunity today to talk about it and to present to you the first details of the organisation of this event which are already known. I am particularly pleased to be able to announce from now on that the general rapporteur for the next Congress has already been appointed: it is Patrick Gielen, who certainly needs no introduction. I would like to thank him very much for accepting this challenge bearing great responsibility!
Another event that is fast approaching are the 6th Africa Europe Meetings of Judicial Officers which will take place in Cotonou, in Benin, from 23 to 25 June and on which we obviously hope to be able to greet many delegations from the two continents.
At European level, many projects also await us. It is no secret that the activity of judicial recovery and enforcement of judgments is in constant decline in many countries. Here we must take the lead and especially in the countries where the activity of judicial collection or enforcement of judgments constitutes the one and only activity of the judicial officers, to promote the secondary activities which are in perfect harmony with the guidelines of the CEPEJ for a better implementation of the existing Council of Europe recommendation on enforcement. I am thinking here particularly of mediation, statements of facts and extra-judicial collection of debts. The general policy of the UIHJ and its European section, the UEHJ, clearly goes in this direction: to promote wherever possible, a multidisciplinary judicial officer with a high-level training.
With this in mind, I draw your attention to the provisions of Regulation (EU) 2020/1783 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2020 on cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters (taking of evidence) which defines in its Article 2 the “authorities in the Member States, (…), that exercise judicial functions, that act pursuant to a delegation of power by a judicial authority or that act under the control of a judicial authority, and which are competent under national law to take evidence for the purposes of judicial proceedings in civil or commercial matters”.
It emerges from the many exchanges that we were able to have with the European Commission, both during the preparatory phase for the presentation of this regulation, and since its adoption, that the profession of judicial officer fulfils these criteria. Indeed, our profession is delegated prerogatives of public power and placed under the control of the judicial authority and the Minister of Justice.
In addition, in some countries, the law entrusts it with obtaining evidence within the meaning of the regulations, insofar as he is empowered to carry out statements of facts, the probative value of which is reinforced by the applicable system of presumptions. This is why, at the invitation of the European Commission, we are requesting from you the registration of the profession in your country on the list provided for in article 31 of this regulation which provides that ” Each Member State shall communicate to the Commission details of the other authorities that are competent to take evidence for the purposes of judicial proceedings in civil or commercial matters”.
The UEHJ – the European Union of Judicial Officers –, in close collaboration with the European Foundation of Judicial Officers, will certainly not fail through projects financed by the European Union, to do everything in its power to reinforce the role of the European judicial officer and to propose in this context adapted training programs, whether in the form of face-to-face sessions or in the form of webinars.
Allow me to conclude by reminding you that it is more essential than ever that we speak with one voice to defend the interests of our profession and thus guarantee its longevity. I will not end without reminding you that our Union is our strength. Thank you very much for your attention.”
The activity report of the UIHJ, presented by Mathieu Chardon, Secretary General of the UIHJ, and the Innovation Team of the UIHJ, showed that, since the permanent council of November 2021 in Dubai, the UIHJ has continued its activities at a steady pace, with 140 events.
Marc Schmitz presented the membership platform for individual members of the UIHJ which can be found on the UIHJ website and which he mentioned in his speech. He asked the heads of delegations to relay this information to each of their members. Marc Schmitz also mentioned another modification of the statutes of the UIHJ, allowing permanent observer members status to organisations.
Malone Cunha, member of the board of the UIHJ, presented the project to create a Latin American Forum of Judicial Officers, endorsed by the board of the UIHJ. There are many associations and organisations of enforcement agents and the like in Latin America. This forum will create a network around the UIHJ, with a view to the accession of new countries during the 25th International Congress of Judicial Officers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in May 2024.
Marc Schmitz then paid tribute to Luisa Lozano, administrative secretary of the UIHJ, who retired at the end of April 2022. He underlined how much she contributed to the development of the UIHJ for more than thirty years and wished her a happy and well-deserved retirement. He added that his functions were now held by Mathieu Chardon.
Elin Vilippus, adviser to the President of the UIHJ, Manager of the UIHJ Expert Group, mentioned the establishment by the UIHJ of a series of webinars on enforcement. The principle of these webinars is to present the enforcement of court decisions in three or four countries per webinar, and to carry out three or four webinars per year. Registration for these webinars is free. The first webinar was held on 21March 2022 and involved the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). The 2nd webinar will be held on 14 June (Denmark, Finland, Sweden). The 3rd webinar will be held on 15 September 2022 and will concern African countries. The 4th webinar in 2002 will be held on 15 December and will concern the USA.
Jos Uitdehaag, 1st Vice-President of the UIHJ, Patrick Gielen, secretary of the board of the UIHJ, and Carlos Calvo, President of the Chamber of judicial officers of Luxembourg and vice-president of the UEHJ, gave information on the status of ongoing projects: Fab III, Filit, BESP, EFFORTS, GDPR, ERA, Jean Monnet Module, LEILA, Platform for judicial auctions in European Union countries operated by Italy, European Atlas judicial officers.
Regarding digital technologies, Luc Ferrand, representing the National Chamber of Commissioners of Justice of France, mentioned the integration of e-Codex into Regulation (EU) 2020/1784 on service of documents. He stressed that the main interest of e-Codex is to allow any Member State and professional organisation to use the same communication system without having to modify the IT tools used.
Martin Leyshon, former President of the of High Court Enforcement Officers’ Association of England and Wales indicated that he is in charge of setting up a new database of UIHJ experts and invited people interested in contacting him.
Jonathan van Leeuwen presented the new members of the UIHJ Innovation Team which now includes nine members.
Jos Uitdehaag, Sue Collins, deputy secretary of the board of the UIHJ, Patrick Gielen and Carlos Calvo, presented a report of the activities of the UIHJ with international institutions and organisations: World Bank, Uncitral, Unidroit, Hague Conference on Private International Law, Council of Europe and CEPEJ, European Commission, EBRD, European Law Institute, Max Planck Institute Luxembourg, ERA (Academy of European Law).
Marc Schmitz then presented to Ramin Garagurbanli, president of the CEPEJ, the Gold medal of the UIHJ, to thank him for his actions in favour of the profession of judicial officer, and to salute the fruitful cooperation between the UIHJ and the CEPEJ for almost twenty years. He delivered the following speech:
“This year, the UIHJ celebrates its 70th anniversary and the CEPEJ its 20th anniversary. Established on 18 September 2002 with Resolution Res(2002)12 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice aims to promote the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights in Europe, on the basis of the European Convention on Human Rights, and especially its Articles 5 (Right to liberty and security), 6 (Right to a fair trial), 13 (Right to an effective remedy), 14 (Prohibition of discrimination).
The CEPEJ quickly established itself as an essential institution, applying to itself the efficiency it advocates for justice. For this, it is assisted by a secretariat which was initially made up of a handful of particularly determined enthusiasts, and whose dynamism has enabled unprecedented growth and constant development. Today, the CEPEJ secretariat includes around forty people! You are fortunate, Mr President, to be able to count on each one of them.
Very quickly after its creation, the UIHJ was led, as an international organisation of legal professionals, to participate in your work, then to quickly become a permanent observer member of the CEPEJ.
As you know, the UIHJ is a great admirer of the CEPEJ, which is a constant source of inspiration for us. Your work on European judicial systems and the collection of data that you tirelessly carry out have led us to conduct similar work on enforcement and our profession, and to collect data on all enforcement professional members of our organisation.
We were fortunate and honoured to have been closely associated with the creation of a central document for the profession of enforcement agent: the CEPEJ Guidelines on enforcement of 17 December 2009. We have celebrated alongside you, at the headquarters of the Council of Europe, the five years, then the ten years of this founding document which constitutes the objective to be achieved for all our members.
During our long collaboration with you, we have participated in multiple projects, missions and works in many countries, as well as in the development of charters, guidelines, or guides. And we attend your plenary meetings with as much interest as ever, in Strasbourg or elsewhere, as will be the case next month in Malta. Your working groups are models of efficiency and innovation: GT-QUAL, GT-EVAL, SATURN, GT-MED, and the recent GT-CYBERJUSTICE AND IA, to which we are proud to contribute.
Mr President, the CEPEJ is powered by a clean, sustainable, and renewable fuel, since it is produced daily by all the people who work around you to ensure that the efficiency of justice, which stands at the centre of the name of your organisation – and which is therefore its very essence – can effectively be built up every day.”
Luc Ferrand insisted on a crucial issue for judicial officers within the framework of Regulation (EU) 2020/1783 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2020 on cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters (taking of evidence). He specified that during the conference organised by the European Foundation of Judicial Officers with the UEHJ on 20 and 21 April 2022 in Brussels, the European Commission, after having listened to the presentation on statements of facts, said that it was convinced that the judicial officers fall within the scope of the 1783 regulation. He therefore urged the heads of delegations of the countries in which the judicial officers carry out statements of facts to get in touch with their authorities as soon as possible for this purpose.
Ana Utsunashvili, Acting Head of Services and Brand Development Office of the National Bureau of Enforcement (NBE) of Georgia, invited the participants to travel to Batumi to attend the international conference on enforcement organised by the NBE from 21 to 24 September. She clarified that the costs and accommodation were fully covered by the NBE.
Marc Schmitz invited the European countries to participate in the 6th Africa Europe Meetings of judicial officers in Cotonou (Benin) from 22 to 25 June 2022, on the theme of “The Judicial Officer in the Digital Age”. He then indicated that the UIHJ will celebrate its 70th anniversary during the permanent council of the UIHJ from 23 to 25 November.
Carlos Calvo proposed Luxembourg’s candidacy to host the next European Permanent Council of the UIHJ in 2023. This candidacy was adopted by acclamation.
Finally, Malone Cunha mentioned the first trip of the UIHJ to Rio de Janeiro in March 2022 as part of the preparations for the 25th International Congress of Judicial Officers.
Marc Schmitz closed the permanent council by wishing everyone an excellent stay in Glasgow and to take full advantage of the gala dinner offered by Smaso at Glasgow City Chambers on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.
Indeed, the participants had the privilege of being received at the Glasgow City Chambers, one of the most prestigious buildings in Glasgow, for an exceptional gala dinner in presence of Vice-Dean of Guild and Lord Lyon, King of Arms.
The UIHJ thanks the SMASO for its welcome and the excellent organisation of the Glasgow Permanent Council, in particular William Dollier and David Walker, Deputy Treasurer of the UIHJ, and wishes it a happy 100th anniversary!