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Change of System in Germany

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The German Association of Bailiffs [Deutsche Gerichtsvollzieher Bund e.V. – DGVB] wishes to report as follows with regards to its efforts to achieve a change over to a free bailiffs’ system.

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Four main reports

The State working groups appointed by the judiciary have concluded their expert work by submitting four reports in total.
The reports contain the basic concept for a free system. The main concepts proposed therein may be summarized as follows:
  • 1.The financing of the system, i.e. to what extent increases in fees must be implemented in order to enable the financing of bailiffs' own offices and to provide sufficient employer's remuneration.
  • 2. Choosing and the possibilities of assuming further tasks, which could contribute to the financing of the free system.
  • 3. Examining the constitutional avenue. According to the German Basic Law, the right to perform sovereign tasks such as arrests, forced entries into flats etc. may, in general, only be delegated to public servants. It was ascertained that the Basic Law, i.e. Germany's constitution, has to be amended in this respect. A 2/3 majority is required for this purpose both in the Lower House of the German Parliament [Bundestag] and in the Upper House [Bundesrat].
  • 4. The provisional regulations with respect to colleagues for the transition from civil servant status to the free system.
The court assistants already took a vote on the basic concept at the end of March in a preconference. There were 11 votes in favour, 2 votes against and 4 abstentions.

This preconference assisted in preparations for the conference of justice ministers which took place on 29 and 30 June 2005.
In order to obtain a positive result, the federal management committee of the DGVB has in the past held discussions with justice ministers. However, our State associations have also done their utmost to obtain positive results from their ministers and to thus pave the way to a free system.
In addition to these discussions, the federal management committee took part in symposia, which were also attended by lawyers, collection associations and representatives from trade and industry.
The list of attended sessions clearly demonstrates the extensive efforts undertaken.
The German Association of Bailiffs expressed its opinion on the four aforementioned reports by the judiciary in a 31-pages document in which it explained its ideas and suggestions, but also made some criticisms.

Resolutions

In the next stage, at the end of June 2005 the conference of justice ministers took place and adopted the following resolution, having evaluated the reform model of the State working groups as a suitable basis for the urgently required reform of the bailiffs' system.
In the adopted resolution the justice ministers authorized the State working groups to make the preparations for a free system:
  • to prepare and draw up a proposal for a change to the constitution
  • to prepare a draft Bailiffs Act
  • to draft a new Bailiffs Costs Act tailored to a new system
These discussion drafts are to be submitted to the next conference of justice ministers in 2006.

Towards a free profession

This resolution constitutes a first important step away from civil servant status towards a free bailiffs system. The working groups have already commenced their work for the purpose of preparing the required laws. The DGVB has demanded that it be allowed to participate in the preparatory measures in the corresponding committees in order to draw up a draft and law that are acceptable to colleagues. It should be noted, however, that the Federal Ministry of Justice is sceptical and disapproving of a free bailiffs system.
It is estimated that the transitional period from bailiffs with civil servant status to free colleagues will last about 13 years. During this period both systems will be in force concurrently.
Following the drafting and preparation of the required bills, these shall be presented to the Bundestag and the Bundesrat to be discussed and voted upon. Only a positive vote in these bodies will clear the way to freedom.

The German Association of Bailiffs would like to take this opportunity to thank the Union Internationale des Huissiers de Justice et Officiers Judiciaires for its complete support.

Hans Eckhard Gallo,
Chairperson of the German Association of Bailiffs.
Goebenstraße 3, 50672 Köln.
5 September 2005
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