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Recognition and enforcement of judgments

empty courtroom with a gavel and a microphone on the foreground © Mikael Damkier, fotolia

The European Union ensures that judgments obtained in one EU country can be recognised and enforced in any other EU country.

General rules for recognition of judgments

Once you have obtained a judgment in your favour, that judgment must be recognised in every EU country. It may be refused only in highly exceptional cases.

To enforce it in another EU country, if you have an enforceable judgment issued in a EU country, you can go the the enforcement authorities in another Member State where e.g. the debtor has assets without any intermediary procedure being required (the Regulation abolishes the "exequatur" procedure). The debtor against whom you seek the enforcement may apply to the court requesting refusal of enforcement.

European Enforcement Order

To save money and time by eliminating recognition procedure, the EU agreed, that in a certain category of civil cases, called "uncontested", the claimant will be able to get a European Enforcement Order certificate. The claim will be considered uncontested if the defendant has agreed with your claim either in court, in a court-approved settlement or in an authentic act, or if he never objected to it, or if, having initially objected, he then failed to appear in court.

If your claim is not decided by the court nor settled in an agreement approved by the court and is not based on an authentic act, you need to obtain a judgement.

  • The first step is to go before the courts and get a judgment in your favour against the debtor. Even though the case is uncontested, the debtor must be properly served with a document telling him/her the reason for the claim, the amount (including interest, if claimed) and the names and addresses of the parties. The judgment will order the debtor to right the wrong you have suffered, by paying a sum of money.
  • Then you need to apply to have the judgment certified as a European Enforcement Order (EEO) pdf (178 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  [322 KB] . The judge does this using a standard form attached to the Regulation.
  • Once the EEO has been issued by the court, it must be sent to the enforcement authority of the EU country where the debtor lives or where his/her assets are. The only reason that enforcement in one EU country can be refused is if it is irreconcilable with another judgment in another EU country between the same parties.
  • As well as the EEO, you will have to provide a copy of the original judgment given in your favour, and you may be asked for a translation of the EEO certificate. This depends on what languages are accepted by the enforcement authority in the other EU country.
  • No other formalities will be required, so you can then enforce the judgment in the other EU country. The enforcement is done under the normal rules of that EU country concerned. For example, if they normally use a bailiff to enforce a judgment, you must do the same.

It may happen, that you decide to conclude, with the defendant, an official agreement before the court, called court settlement. You may also apply to the court to have this agreement certified as European Enforcement Order.

If you have an authentic act related to your claim and this act is enforceable in one EU country, you may have it certified as European Enforcement Order as well. You should check to which authority you should apply, because this varies from one EU country to another.