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HomeSéparateurFocusSéparateurEuropeSéparateurBulgariaSéparateurThe new face of the European enforcement agent
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The new face of the European enforcement agent

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This was the theme of the international symposium organised by the UIHJ, the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice and the Bulgarian Union of Enforcement Judges in Sofia, on the 6th and 7th of November 2003.

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A prestigious setting
At the foot of Vitocha Mountain, in the heights of Sofia, the Boyana Residence, home of the former president of the socialist era, stands imposingly amongst the sparkling autumnal colours. This magnificent site was the choice for the hosting of an international conference that brought together Mrs Miglena Tatcheva Q.C., the Bulgarian Vice Minister of Justice, Mr Leo Netten Q.C., First Vice President of the UIHJ, and Mr Georgi Ditchev Q.C., president of the Bulgarian Union of Enforcement Judges.
There were around fifty participants in all, including several enforcement judges and members if the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, who were able to discover the new face of the European enforcement agent, whose portrait was drawn by four experts from the UIHJ: Nicola Hesslen, president of the Association of Swedish Debt Collectors, Dariusz Potkanski, assistant treasurer of the UIHJ, and Marc Schmitz and Mathieu Chardon, enforcement agents in St-Vith (Belgium) and Versailles (France), and members of the UIHJ Committee.

Developing the profession in the direction of progress
In her opening speech, Mrs Miglena Tatcheva Q.C., Vice Minister of Justice, spoke of the necessity of certain reforms and the desire within the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice that the profession should develop in the direction of modernity and progress, and this in concordance with the new European standards.
Georgi Ditchev, president of the Bulgarian Union of Judges reminded us that the Bulgarian enforcement agents, after having been the object of a far-reaching reform a few years ago, must henceforth take their destiny into their own hands with the help of the Ministry of Justice.
Leo Netten, First Vice President of the UIHJ declared that, for the profession of enforcement agent, a new European map was in the process of being drawn up and its contours would be redefined as a result of the entrance of 20 new countries into the European Union in May 2004. The First Vice President of the UIHJ insisted on the predominance of an independent status for the profession of enforcement agent on this new European chessboard.

The choice of status for the European enforcement agent
The symposium was split into three workshops. The theme of the first workshop was: "The choice of status for the European enforcement agent" and the workshop was supervised by Georgi Ditchev. Marc Schmitz presented the reforms underway in the EU and in the Council of Europe. Since the European Summit in Tampere, Finland, in October 1999, the EU has recognised the necessity of viewing the enforcement of legal decisions as an indispensable driving force behind European integration. A great many projects have since been set in motion, which have given rise to much and often complex legislation: regulations concerning the recognition and enforcement of legal decisions, the signification and notification of legal documents in the Member States, and diverse laws in preparation on the European Enforcement Order, the European Injunction to Pay, etc.
On the 9th of September 2003 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted a recommendation on the subject of the enforcement of legal decisions (Rec2003(17)). This recommendation lays down the directing principles concerning the enforcement procedure and it also determines the minimal standards applicable to the agents responsible for enforcing these decisions. Our colleague Schmitz also mentioned the many projects undertaken by the UIHJ in these various domains.
The current status of enforcement agents in the EU of today and tomorrow was presented by Mathieu Chardon, Nicola Hesslen and Dariusz Potkanski. It was revealed that, in the new European Union of 25, independent enforcement agents will be in the majority. The reasons that have led the States, mainly the States of the former Soviet bloc, to turn towards this system were identified: criteria of efficiency and security but also economic factors, since the State does not have to support the very large costs implied in ensuring that an enforcement department functions efficiently.

The choice of professional organisation
The theme of the 2nd workshop was: "The choice of professional organisation" and it was led by Liliana Chopova, an inspector at the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice. Nicola Hesslen underlined the importance of the profession being represented at the different levels, international, national, regional and local. Dariusz Potkanski and Mathieu Chardon evoked the importance of a unified profession and of discipline. The independence of enforcement agents, both legally and financially, are also the key elements of a lasting professional organisation, as Marc Schmitz and Dariusz Potkanski went on to explain. The four members of the team dealt with the question of professional responsibility, as a veritable guarantee for those implicated in the legal proceedings of a just, legal and fair enforcement procedure.

The choice of attributions and training
The theme of the 3rd workshop was: "The choice of attributions and training". Anelia Pavlova, an inspector at the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, was in charge of the workshop. The team members presented the essential tasks attributed to enforcement agents, i.e. the enforcement of legal decisions and the signification of legal and extrajudicial documents, with particular insistence on the superiority of signification performed in person by an approved professional agent, with a high level of legal competence, in relation to notification by post.
However a number of other attributions that are highly compatible with the status of enforcement agent were presented to the participants who showed their interest in these activities through the many questions posed: affidavits, amicable or legally enforced debt recovery, and property sales. Training also plays an integral part of the new face of the European enforcement agent.
The question of the level of training required was dealt with by Mathieu Chardon, in the light of recommendation Rec(2003)17 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the UIHJ standpoint on the issue: an initial training and a continued training are the indispensable elements for a profession that owes it to itself to be irreproachable. The organisation of the training is also essential in order to attain the quality objectives sought. Mathieu Chardon presented the various specialised training schools in Europe, and particularly the French National School of Procedure, which represents an unequalled model on the European scale.
In her closing speech, Mrs Tatcheva Q.C. indicated that the creation of the European Enforcement Training Centre, EETC) is well underway and will be ready by the end of 2004, on the joint initiative of the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice and the Council of Europe . The UIHJ is actively participating in the creation of this centre since it will be a co-founding member and Mathieu Chardon and John Marston, members of the UIHJ, belong to the working group responsible for implementing the project .
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Miglena Tatcheva, Deputy Minister of justice
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Leo Netten, Fisrt vice-president of UIHJ
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The participants: Nicola Hesslen, Marc Schmitz, Leo Netten, Dariusz Potkanski, Mathieu Chardon
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Leo Netten with Miglena Tatcheva
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Georgi Ditchev, president of the Bulgarian Union of enforcement agents, gets an award from UIHJ
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