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Last update: 04-11-2009
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Enforcement of judgements - Community law

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“I wish to have a judgment enforced in another Member State.”

In this case, you must apply to the relevant court in the Member State where enforcement is required for a declaration that the foreign judgment is enforceable (exequatur).

Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters contains rules on enforcement in another Member State. It entered into force on 1 March 2002 and simplifies the procedure for having a foreign judgment declared enforceable, and replaces the Brussels Convention of 1968. The Regulation is directly applicable, which means that anybody can rely on it before the courts. The application of Regulation was extended to Denmark following the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Denmark on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters.

The Regulation lays down the following rules:

  • Judgments given in a Member State and enforceable there can be enforced in another Member State after being declared enforceable there (or registered in the United Kingdom) on application by anybody who has an interest in the matter;
  • The application is made to the court that has territorial jurisdiction on the basis of the domicile of the party against whom enforcement is sought or of the place of enforcement;
  • The declaration of enforceability ("exequatur") must be issued after certain formalities have been completed and must be served on the other party, who may challenge it only in the courts;
  • It is possible to refuse to recognise a foreign judgment if recognition would be contrary to public policy or irreconcilable with an earlier judgment, or where the document initiating the proceeding has not been served in good time or the other party does not appear.
The procedure might seem quite simple, but the Regulation does not remove all the barriers to free movement of judgments in the European Union and leaves a number of intermediate measures in place.

At Tampere in October 1999, the European Council called for a further reduction in intermediate measures needed for enforcement of foreign judgments. In November 2000, the Council adopted a programme of measures for implementation of the principle of mutual recognition of decisions in civil and commercial matters. The aim is to abolish all procedures needed for the enforceability of judgments in civil and commercial matters. It has been decided to proceed gradually, beginning with a very specific pilot project - the abolition of the exequatur procedure for uncontested claims.


On 21 April 2004 the Regulation (EC) No 805/2004 of the European Parliament and the Council creating a European enforcement order for uncontested claims was adopted. It dispenses, under certain conditions, with all intermediary measures in the Member State in which enforcement is sought in the verifiable absence of a dispute over the nature or extent of a debt. Those conditions mainly concern the service of documents in the case of judgments by default. Abolishing the exequatur procedure will enable creditors to obtain quick and efficient enforcement abroad without involving the courts in the Member State where enforcement is applied for in time-consuming and costly formalities.

On 11 July 2007, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 establishing a European Small Claims Procedure. The aim of the Regulation is to simplify, speed up and reduce the costs of litigation. The procedure will apply in cross-border civil and commercial matters where the value of a claim does not exceed 2000 €. The procedure applies to pecuniary claims as well as to non-pecuniary claims. The Regulation abolishes the intermediate measures to enable the recognition and enforcement of a judgement given in a European Small Claims Procedure. A judgment shall be recognised and enforced in another Member State automatically and without any possibility of opposing its recognition, except in cases of incorrect service of the claim.

There are no Community provisions on enforcement as such. But the mutual recognition programme provides for a series of measures to strengthen the effects in the requested State of judgments given in the State of origin:

Reference documents

« Enforcement of judgements - General information | Community law - General information »


Last update: 04-11-2009

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