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Procedures for enforcing a judgment

When a Court is involved in solving a dispute, there are two steps that must be ensured at the end of the process.  First, the Court must hand down a judgment and then the judgment needs to be enforced in practice.

To force the other party (defendant or your debtor) to comply with the judgment against him/her (for example to pay up), you will have to go to the enforcement authorities. They alone have the power to force the debtor to pay, calling on the forces of law and order if need be. The name and location of these enforcement authorities are provided on the Link opens in new windowEuropean Judicial Atlas in civil matters.

The purpose of enforcement is generally to recover sums of money, but it may also be to have some other kind of duty performed (duty to do something or refrain from doing something, such as to deliver goods or finish work or refrain from trespassing).

Different European procedures (such as the European Payment Order, the European Small Claims Procedure and the European Enforcement Order) can be used in cross border civil cases, but for all of them, a judgment must be enforced in accordance with the national rules and procedures of the State of enforcement (usually where the debtor or his/her assets are).

In practice, you need to have an enforceable document (a court judgment or a deed) if you wish to apply for enforcement. The enforcement procedures and the authorities who handle them (courts, debt-collection agencies and bailiffs) are decided by national law of the Member State where enforcement is sought.

To obtain detailed information please select one of the flags listed on the right hand side.

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Last update: 27/01/2015