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Au service de la profession d’huissier de justice dans le monde depuis 1952
At the Service of the Profession of Judicial Officer in the World since 1952
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HomeSéparateurFocusSéparateurEuropeSéparateurNorwaySéparateurNordic seminar in Bergen (Norway) from 31 August to 2 september 2011
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7th Nordic seminar in Bergen (Norway) from 31 August to 2nd September 2011

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Judicial officers of Nordic countries organized in the former capital of Norway their biannual conference in the presence of UIHJ on the topic of debt considered from a social point of view

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Debt, a social issue
 
At the initiative of Jacques Isnard, past President of the UIHJ, our colleagues of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden) decided from 1999 to convene every two years to meet, share and learn. This year, it was the turn of Norway to receive its Nordic counterparts. As usual, the UIHJ was invited to participate. Our organization was represented by its first secretary, Mathieu Chardon. Nearly one hundred judicial officers from Scandinavian countries (Denmark and Faeroe Islands, Finland, Norway and Sweden) gathered in the auditorium of the Museum of Bryggen, in the heart of the beautiful city of Bergen. Listed as World Heritage Site by Unesco, European city of culture, located west of Norway, Bergen is the ideal platform for exploring the fjords.
Our colleague, Nicola Hesslen, past permanent secretary of the UIHJ for the Nordic countries, now retired, was also invited. The seminar was expertely organized by Jonny Nauste, President of the Association of Namsmann of Norway. The central theme was: "Debt, a social problem? ". The atmosphere was studious but also very friendly and relaxed. Despite a tense political climate due to the dramatic events that recently hit Norway, Knut Storberget, Minister for Justice, wanted to personally come and open the work. This attention was particularly appreciated by the Norwegian judicial officers who usually also work as policemen, and by all participants. Mr. Storberget stressed the importance of cooperation of the police, especially after the recent tragedy, both internally and at Scandinavian level. Legal security is fundamental, said the minister for justice. This legal security, he said, implies that debtors pay their debts. Without it, society cannot function normally. Today we are witnessing a fundamental change in attitudes. Today it is normal to have debts. However debts contribute to a sustained impoverishment of the population, he regretted. As elsewhere, there are in Norway growing differences between rich and poor. Banks and finance companies tend to push people into debt recklessly. The justice minister said it was important to educate young people to the risks associated with over-consumption and debt. With regard to Norwegian judicial officers Knut Storbeget expressed his satisfaction with the work they do on a daily basis, taking into account the debtor's situation and providing installments whenever necessary.
Bjorn-Knold Anton, vice president of Lindorff debt collecting agency, gave a comprehensive inventory of the status of debt collection in Scandinavia. He stressed in particular the increase in recent years in the number of real estate auctions and in the debt ratio of the elderly. He said that when debt collection leads to the taking of an enforcement order, the procedure most used is the attachment of remuneration or pensions.
Christian Poppe, researcher, professor of political science, member of the National Institute of Statistics of Norway, has developed a comprehensive picture of how the Norwegians spend their money. Following him, Shabana Reeman, a Norwegian actress and playwright, shared her experience and that of her parents in the situation of debt distress she experienced. Her comic talent dominated her speech, despite its tragic dimension.
Christian Poppe then prepared an inventory of over-indebtedness in Norway. He said that over-indebtedness now also affects the elderly but also young people. This section of the population takes more and more loans for everyday purchase, leisure and holidays, a worrying situation, he said.

The risks of over-indebtedness
 
The editor of the journal Megafon, a Bergen publication to help people in need, including drug addicts, then referred to debt in its darkest side. This is the case when bound to various addictions (drugs, alcohol). This results in great dangers: physical and psychological decline, isolation from society, loss of home ... In a similar vein, Richard Ahlström, a university professor in psychology (Sweden), addressed the global issue of debt and its health consequences. To emphasize the seriousness of the problem, Mr Ahlström presented the results of a study on suicide. In general, a person contemplating suicide and going on to act immediately regrets his action at the fateful moment. But the study suggests that this is not the case when the person is over-indebted. At European level, he said, approximately 15% of the population is over-indebted. Debt must be regarded as a scourge. It is a proven factor in deteriorating health. A discussion followed these two interventions, led by Egil Rokhaug, Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Social Affairs of Norway. It was especially mentioned the idea of a centralized database of people at risk of debt distress, particularly because of the number of loans taken.
Roger Schjerva, State Secretary, Ministry of Finance gave an overview of the financial situation in the Scandinavian countries.
Nordic seminars give the opportunity for our colleagues to meet in workshops to discuss topics. Four workshops were then held with all participants and the minutes were given in the form of round tables.
Mathieu Chardon welcomed the colleagues present on behalf of the President of the UIHJ. He recalled how Leo Netten was attached to the Nordic seminars that served as a model for other regional meetings in the UIHJ. The first secretary of the UIHJ briefly presented the work of the next international congress of judicial officers of which he is the general rapporteur. He recalled that the Congress will be held in Cape Town (South Africa) the first week of May 2012 and invited the participants to come in numbers.
Participants were received by the Mayor of Bergen in the magnificent room of the 750 years old and beautifully preserved town hall. A dinner was also given on Mount Floyen, accessible by a funicular and offering a breathtaking view of Bergen, its mountains and fjords. During the evening, in a very friendly atmosphere, the four countries acknowledged the work of Nicola Hesslen, as the motor of the Nordic seminars. They warmly thanked her for her total investment during all these years.
Judicial officers are far from being blind enforcement agents. They are at the heart of social life. They take into account the many societal problems in their daily activities. This seminar, run masterfully by Jonny Nausten, demonstrated once again, through its theme, how the profession of judicial officer is concerned by the too many difficulties our contemporaries unfortunately face.
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Knut Storberget, Minister for Justice of Norway
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Jonny Nauste, President of the Namsmann of Norway
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Mathieu Chardon, 1st Secretary of the UIHJ
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Jonny Nauste and Nicola Hesslen, past permanent secretary of the UIHJ for Scandinavian countries
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View of Bergen from Mount Floyen
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