Overview

Once you have obtained a judgment in your favour, that judgment is automatically recognised in every EU country. The judgment may be refused only in exceptional cases.

To enforce a judgment in another EU country, the applicant can go directly to the enforcement authorities in another EU country. For example, if a person is owed money they can have the judgment recognised and enforced in the country where the debtor has assets without any intermediary procedure ('exequatur'). The creditor has to provide the enforcement authority with the certificate (issued by the court of origin confirming the enforceability and giving details of the judgment) and a copy of the judgment. The debtor against whom the enforcement is sought can apply to the court requesting refusal of the enforcement on certain grounds, e.g. if such recognition and enforcement would be contrary to public policy in the EU country addressed.

Cross-border recognition and enforcement is governed by the Brussels I Regulation (recast).

Enforcing judgments

Alternatively, the claimant can get a European enforcement order (EEO) certificate in uncontested cases.

To obtain the order, the claimant must

  • go before the courts and get a judgment against the debtor. Even if the case is uncontested, the debtor must be 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 pay a sum of money.

  • apply to have the judgment certified as a European enforcement order. The judge does this using a standard form  .

  • (once the EEO has been issued by the court) send the EEO to the enforcement authority of the EU country where the debtor lives or where his/ her assets are. In addition to the EEO, the claimant has to provide a copy of the original judgment.

No other formalities will be required. The judgment is enforced under the rules of the EU country concerned.

Information on EU and national law and procedures, including on enforcement of judgements, has been made available by the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters