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4th Meeting of the Association of Judicial Officers Real Estate Managers

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The UIHJ, represented by its President, Leo Netten, its Board Executive Secretary, Luis Ortega Alcubierre, its General Secretary, Françoise Andrieux, and its First Secretary, Mathieu Chardon, participated on 10 April 2014 in Paris in the 4th Meeting of the Association.

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Leo Netten President of the UIHJ
 The 4th meeting of the Association of Judicial Officers Real Estate Managers (GHJAI) focused on the theme "Need for growth and activity? Develop real estate management ".

The GHJAI was created four years ago by French judicial officers to ensure the promotion of this additional activity that has always been exercised by many French judicial officers (currently about 750 out of 3200).

At the invitation of its president, Patrick Le Fur, the UIHJ participated in a discussion panel on the status of the judicial officer real estate manager at international level. Luis Ortega Alcubierre represented the Spanish Procuradores. José Carlos Resende, President of the Solicitadores (Portugal) with Joao Coutinho (Portugal), Jules Yao Cissé, judicial officer and real estate manager in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and Quentin Debray, President of the Union of the French Speaking Judicial Officers (Belgium), were also invited.

In front of over 200 participants, President Le Fur thanked everyone for attending. He praised the memory of Bernard Menut, former President of the National Chamber of the Judicial Officers of France and 1st Vice President of the UIHJ, who recently passed away, "a tireless worker, a visionary, and an incomparable lawyer". A minute of silence was observed in his memory.

Patrick Le Fur explained that the judicial officer real estate manager is a key player in the human right to housing, an unrivalled guarantor of legal security and of the respect of the standards of decency and liveability. He ensures a fair and balanced relation between landlords and tenants.

Referring to the theme of the 22nd International Congress of judicial officers, the president of GHJAI added that judicial officers are not only lawyers but also businessmen, two concepts that are not contradictory but complementary.

At international level, Patrick Le Fur noted that "we need Europe and the world to secure here in France our real estate activities". "Today, he continued, through the action of visionary men like Jacques Isnard, Leo Netten or Bernard Menut, enforcement clerks disappeared and the judicial officer took over across Europe and the world."

Leo Netten's speech is reproduced below.

The importance of additional activities and the diversification of activities of judicial officers under European and international perspective

Mr Chair of the Association of the Judicial Officers Real Estate Managers,
Mr President of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of France,
Dear colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Part of the work of your fourth meeting was placed under the sign of internationalism. I welcome and thank you for inviting me to speak. I take this opportunity to salute my colleagues and friends from Belgium, Ivory Coast, Portugal and Spain.

A few words about the UIHJ. Our organisation was founded in 1952 by seven countries: Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The UIHJ includes 85 countries today. This places us among the largest lawyers' organisations in the world. We are also among the most influential.

In the early nineties, the UIHJ was heavily involved in Eastern Europe, where the historic change that we all know took place. Our strategy was to work towards the creation of a profession of judicial officer based on the French, Belgian, and Dutch model, to ensure the sustainability of this model: that of a liberal judicial officer, independent, liable, with a high level of training, in charge of enforcing court decisions but also qualified to practice multiple activities.
 
What were the results of the actions of the UIHJ at European level? Of the 13 countries that joined the European Union since 2004, only three - Cyprus, Malta and Croatia - had not, prior to joining the EU, set up a judicial officer on the model of the International Union. And in several other European countries, not members of the European Union, our actions have enabled us to obtain the same status.

Our organisation has been defending your interests for over sixty years. It represents you before all the international and global organisations and institutions on four continents: Europe, Africa, America, and Asia. In 2014, our agenda has recorded no less than 132 events we have participated or that we have organised. I can safely say that no other organisation of lawyers is able to show such records.

The profession of judicial officer in the world is extremely diverse, at all levels.

Diversity of the name: judicial officer, Gerechtsdeurwaarder, High Court Enforcement Officer, Messenger-at-Arms, Solicitador, Solicitor, Sheriff, Kronofogden, Antsoliu ... I could go on.

Diversity of status: liberal professional, state employed, hybrid status.

Diversity of training: if the majority of us cannot operate without a high level of training, often identical to that of the judge, this is not the case everywhere. In some states, no special legal knowledge is required to become an enforcement agent.

But the most substantial disparities appear in his activities. In some countries, judicial officers perform a multitude of activities. Conversely, in some - fortunately very few - others the judicial officer may only carry out enforcement on tangible personal property. There is even a country, Cyprus, where the judicial officer is not entitled to enforce court decisions.
 
Within the International Union, we have long recognised that these differences, far from weakening or dividing us are rather a great strength and an inexhaustible resource of opportunities. Each new activity in a country is a new field of possibilities for all the other countries.

With this in mind, during our international congress held in Washington in 2006, we introduced the UIHJ Programme of a multi-field judicial officer. What is it about? We have identified all the activities of judicial officers in the world and constituted a document in sixteen points that reflects all these activities. Our aim was to sensitise judicial officers, law makers, politicians, individuals, and other legal professionals on the scope of the professional range offered by our great profession.

Ladies and gentlemen, in this we have been heard and recognised. Do you know the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice of the Council of Europe, the CEPEJ? It was created in 2002. The UIHJ is an observer member since 2003. In 2009, I was personally involved with your colleague Mathieu Chardon in the CEPEJ Working Group in charge of drafting the Guidelines on enforcement. Our participation in this work allowed our multi-field programme of the Washington congress to be included into the Guidelines adopted on 17 December 2009 by the 47 Justice Ministers of the Council of Europe.

Let me ask you the question: who among you knows the CEPEJ Guidelines on enforcement?

This is the most important document to date on our profession at European and global level.

You can find this document on the CEPEJ website. You will find there many reasons to cheer up in the difficult times we are living. I can particularly recommend paragraphs 33 and 34. You will read that the enforcement agent - that is to say the judicial officer - should carry out all enforcement measures and should be the only one to lead them to completion.

Consider an example. It seems to me that in France the judicial officers are involved only partially in the attachment of immovable. Did you know that in many countries, such as Hungary, Georgia, or Thailand, the judicial officers are the ones to carry out all enforcement measures on immovable, from the attachment to the auction, which can be electronic?

You will read in the Guidelines on enforcement that judicial officers should be authorised to perform secondary activities compatible with their role, tending to safeguard and secure recognition of parties' rights and aimed at expediting the judicial process or reducing the workload the courts, such as:
- debt recovery;
- voluntary sale of moveable or immoveable property at public auction;
- seizure of goods;
- recording and reporting of evidence;
- serving as court ushers;
- provision of legal advice;
- bankruptcy procedures;
- performing tasks assigned to them by the courts;
- representing parties in the courts;
- drawing up private deeds and documents;
- teaching.

We keep telling our members: the CEPEJ Guidelines on enforcement are the model of the judicial officer not only at European level but also globally.

The CEPEJ Guidelines on enforcement should be the central document, the only roadmap for any country facing reforms of our profession.

Then, and only then, can all countries benefit from all activities mentioned in the CEPEJ Guidelines and impose sustainably our model globally.

For this, you can count on our constant support.

For twenty years, we are explaining to the members of our organisation that the enforcement of court decisions alone cannot ensure the sustainability of our profession. The diversification of our activities is essential for several reasons.

Debtor protection tends to strengthen in some countries. This also applies to enforcement measures. You experience in France the daily decline of enforcement. The debtor may challenge enforcement. He may ask the judge for delays. The base of attachable assets is subject to constant lowering. Insolvency proceedings concern more and more individuals.

At the same time, we are faced with a process that tends to cast away court proceedings. Solutions must be found to avoid causing conflicts that clutter the courts systems.

And I did not mention the rampant economic crisis we are experiencing.

In this difficult context, the diversification of our activities is our best guarantee of durability and development. It is also necessary that these activities are consistent with respect to our core business.

Why should citizens use our services? They will find in us the needed legal professional to assert and to ensure they rights: the only liberal legal professional entrusted with a mission of public service who is independent, impartial, accountable, competent, reliable, specialised, subject to confidentiality and covered by an insurance in case of responsibility.

This is why our organisation promotes a judicial officer with a high level of training, equal to that of other professions such as judge, lawyer, notary...

This high level of training and the trust placed in us enable us to claim additional activities such as those contained in the CEPEJ Guidelines, or that of real estate manager.

You may be wondering why this activity of real estate management does not appear in the CEPEJ Guidelines? This is simply because the activity was not considered as tending to safeguard and secure recognition of parties' rights and aimed at expediting the judicial process or reducing the workload of the courts.

However, the list set out in paragraph 34 of the CEPEJ Guidelines is not exhaustive. The idea that a judicial officer may perform many additional activities was finally endorsed by the Council of Europe.

Let's now consider the real estate management activity in the world.

For this, I will first present the Grand questionnaire of the UIHJ. This tool developed by the UIHJ was created during our international congress held in Cape Town, South Africa in 2012.

The Grand questionnaire consists of 350 questions about the judicial officer and all his activities. 54 countries responded to the questionnaire. The result is available on the Internet.

Globally the real estate management activity exists in 15 countries (30.61% of countries), which is both little but sufficient to make it a trustworthy business.

In Europe, it is possible in 5 countries (17.86% of countries):
- France (current activity)
- Lithuania (rare activity)
- The Netherlands (unusual activity)
- Portugal (minor activity)
- Switzerland (rare activity)

 In Africa, it is possible in 10 countries (62.5% of countries):
- Benin (current activity)
- Burkina Faso (minor activity)
- Cameroon (current activity)
- Congo (minor activity)
- Gabon (rare activity)
- Ivory Coast (high activity)
- Mauritania (rare activity)
- Niger (minor activity)
- Togo (current activity)
- Uganda (current activity)

It is never a monopoly, except in Ivory Coast.

You will find details of the components of the activities carried out as part of real estate management in the Grand questionnaire, country by country. Globally, the results are:

- Ensure the management of immovable entrusted by their owner in the framework of a contract: 87.5%
- Finding tenants for the property leased: 68.75%
- Prepare and have the lease signed: 75%
- Represent owners as part of a management mandate: 68.75%
- Drawing up of an inventory of fixtures relating to the leased immovable: 62.5%
- Advise owners: 68.75%
- Advise tenants: 68.75%
- To act in court on behalf of owners: 31.25%
- Taking all the necessary steps in the name of the owners of the property for the selling of the immovable: 37.5%
- Accept rents for the owners: 75%
- Ensure the regular payment of rents: 75%
- Amicable of judicial collecting of unpaid rents: 56.25%
- Commit the necessary procedures to evict the tenant for failure to pay rent and / or breach of the lease cases: 68.75%
- To represent the owner in court: 31.25%
- To be mandated to address issues that may arise during the rental of the property: 62.5%

You see, we have very accurate and reliable data, as reported by our member states.

I can only encourage the GHJAI to continue working to promote this business in France, but also everything in the world. For this you can count on our support. I think that this first participation in your meeting marks the beginning of a new collaboration for the UIHJ.

I did not want to speak to you today without saluting the memory of Bernard Menut who passed away last month. As you know, our colleague was a brilliant President of your National chamber in 2000 and 2001. He was also heavily involved in international action since he was the first Vice President of the UIHJ.

I mentioned at the beginning of my speech to the International Congress of Washington 2006. President Menut was its rapporteur. He was at the initiative of a major project started nearly ten years now: the Global Code of Enforcement. This Code concerns universal principles that should govern the procedures to compel a person to give effect to an enforceable title. It contains the definition of global standards of enforcement essential to promote a fair and effective enforcement system. The principles it contains are used to outline ideal enforcement procedures.

The Global Code of Enforcement was developed by the Scientific Council of the UIHJ, under the direction of Professor Natalie Fricero, who you all know. It was presented to all international organisations and has generated an exceptional interest, at the level of the event.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Global Code of Enforcement is the most ambitious project ever undertaken by the judicial officers. It will be officially presented during our international congress to be held in Madrid from 2 to 5 June.

The theme of our congress - your congress - is: "The judicial officer link between law and economics - A new approach to enforcement".

I invite you all to go to Madrid. Those of you who have attended an international congress know what I mean. For the others, I can guarantee you an unforgettable experience both professionally and personally.
 
We rely on mass participation of France during the congress.

Dear colleagues, isolated we are nothing.

Together, we can.
Our Union is our greatest strength.
Thank you.

Leo Netten
President


Several other topics were discussed during the day:
- The purchase and sale of a real estate management business;
- The need for a commercial, marketing and communication process around the additional activities of judicial officers;
- Commercial positioning, communication and marketing tools for judicial officers real estate managers;
- Web communication and social networks.

The UIHJ thanks the GHJAI for the invitation, the excellent organisation of the day and congratulates the association for the quality of the work carried out for the development of additional activities of judicial officers, a pledge of sustainability of the profession.

More information on the GHJAI and its actions on: http://www.ghjai.fr
 


 
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Patrick Le Fur, President of the GHJAI
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Leo Netten President of the UIHJ
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Round table on the status of the Judicial Officer real estate manager at international level
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The participants to the round table, from L. to R.: Leo Netten, President of the UIHJ, José Carlos Resende, President of the National Chamber of Solicitadores of Portugal, Luis Ortega Alcubierre, Procurador (Spain), member of the board of the UIHJ, Quentin Debray, President of the Union of French Speaking Judicial Officers (Belgium), Yao Jules Cisse, Judicial Officer (Ivory Coast), Patrick Le fur, President of the GHJAI
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