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Enforcement of a Court Decision in France

Enforcement of a Court Decision in France

The enforcement of a court decision in France takes place after the matter is no longer subject to appeal and after the defendant and his lawyer have been notified of the outcome. It is common for a bailiff to serve the court decision.
This is the final stage of the trial and the debtor is required to observe the court’s decision. In some cases, it is possible for the debtor to obtain a grace period, in which case the enforcement will be a provisional one.

The process of debt collection in France includes a number of steps and can also be based on alternative dispute resolution methods, like arbitration when the parties do not wish to take the case to court. 

The Code of Civil Procedure, the Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures and the adjoining case law, along with the relevant EU regulations and bilateral conventions for the enforcement of foreign judgments are also relevant when discussing certain cases of court decisions for the purpose of debt collection.

The enforcement of a local court decision

Some of the main issues to consider when discussing the enforcement of a court decision are the following:

  • the obligation to pay: differs according to the assets; sums of money will be granted to the creditor while property will be sold to the creditor according to the claim.
  • the obligation to give: refers to returning the property to the legitimate owner; can also include eviction.
  • the pecuniary penalty: the enforcement of the court decision can also include a pecuniary penalty, meaning that the debtor may also be asked to perform certain activities.
  • limitations: the enforcement procedures are limited to the amounts necessary to recover the claim; abuse is not permitted.
  • costs: usually the debtor is the one to handle the payment of the cost implied by the enforcement measures.

Bailiffs are the ones who handle compulsory enforcement. Below, our team of debt collection lawyers in France answers some commonly asked questions about the debt collection process in the country.

What types of assets can be subject to enforcement?

This is a question commonly asked regarding debt recovery in France. The creditor may make his claim against part of all of the debtor’s property. Special rules may apply depending on the nature of the assets, such as in the case of rent or salaries as well as for obtaining amounts that are found in bank accounts.

What are the limitations of the enforcement measures?

A time limit applies to enforcement measures and the creditor is required to take the necessary steps for enforcement within this time limit: then years. Limitations also exist in terms of the assets that can be seized by the creditor. For example, movable goods that are used by the debtor in his everyday life and work or those that are used by a disabled individual will not be attached. When the creditor is entitled to receiving earned income, the attached amount will be limited by a decree, by observing the debtor’s condition and whether or not he has dependants in his care. In certain cases, debtors who are sole traders in France can benefit from special protection on part of their assets.

Foreign judgments enforcement in France

In order to recover a debt in France, foreign investors may need to follow the regulations for recognizing and enforcing foreign judgments. The French Code of Civil Procedure, along with other multilateral conventions such as the Hague Convention, are the legal resources for the enforcement of court decision in France when this decision was a foreign judgment.  

Alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration and mediation are also available for debt collection in France. For arbitration, a domestic agreement must be made in writing and the process takes place with the parties’ consent. When the case is an international one, the agreements are not subject to specific requirements as the process is considered an international one, especially when concerning international trade.

The enforcement of a court decision is required when the debtor does not comply voluntarily with the obligations (when this happens, there is no need for proceedings). The enforcement measures are to be carried out according to a schedule and generally not during public holidays. Prior authorization by the enforcement judge may be required in some cases.

Debt collection in France is a process that can be subject to compulsory enforcement, as seen in this article, or subject to alternative dispute resolution methods as well as voluntary compliance. One of our specialized lawyers can help individuals deal with the implications of the enforcement of a court decision when litigation is the preferred dispute resolution method. Contact us for specialized assistance in solving debt collection cases.