Germany is one of the charter members of the European Union and has had a vital contribution to its development, which also covers the issue of recognition of a decision taken by the European Court.
Established in 1952, the European Court of Justice ( ECJ) has the main responsibility to ensure uniformity in the interpretation and application of Community law and has the power to settle disputes involving Member States, EU institutions, businesses and individuals in the EU space.
More than 8,600 cases were brought to court in 1952 when it was founded. In 1978 the Court solved 200 new cases per year and in 1985 were more than 400 cases pending.
Those who have their cases tried in EU courts must know that the decisions taken here will be recognized and enforced in the country of origin of the claimant. This rule also applies in debt collection cases in Germany, which are considered civil law cases.
Our debt collection lawyers in Germany can help with the formalities of having EU court decisions recognized by the German authorities. We can also assist in debt recovery in Germany, no matter if you decide for an amicable or court procedure.
Table of Contents
The European Court of Justice
The Court of Justice is headquartered in Luxembourg and it is composed of Judges and Advocates-General (corresponding to the number of Member States) with a term of six years. The Judges shall elect the President of the Court, with a term of three years which may be renewed.
Since 1989, the Court of Justice is assisted in its work by the Court of First Instance, with the role to resolve disputes between the Commission and those natural or legal persons, as well as those of the Community institutions or between them and their officials.
Among the actions that can be brought before the European Court of Justice are:
- the action for failure to fulfill obligations by the member states (may be filed by Commission or by a Member State);
- the action for annulment, which consists of the judicial review of legal acts of the Union;
- action for failure to act, in order to control the legality of the action undertaken by the judicial institutions, a body, office or agency of the European Union;
- appeal – an action that might be submitted in case of lack of jurisdiction of the Tribunal, a breach of that affects the plaintiff’s interest, infringement of Union law by the General Court;
- review, the action taken in order to reevaluate the Court’s decisions on appeals against.
The role of the Advocate General is to prepare a proposal for the sentence to be pronounced. The Advocate General is not aiming, however, the interests of a particular party, but its demands must have independent and neutral character.
The language used during the process is one of the official languages of the EU. It has been established a rule ensuring that everyone in the EU has the opportunity to participate in two acts trial in his native language. Parties and judges procedural interventions are translated by interpreters, as well as all documents forming part of the file.
Most of the community requires the existence of guarantees jurisdictional to be put into operation in case of impeachment or the implementation of legislation. In this case, the Court of Justice is the judicial institution of the community and the backbone of the system of guarantees. Judges should ensure uniformity interpretation and application of Community law in each Member State to maintain the system Community and apply equally to all individuals or legal persons who obey in all circumstances.
To fulfill this role, the Court of Justice has jurisdiction to resolve the dispute in which are implied as parties any Member State, community institutions, companies or individuals.
Court of Justice plays an essential role in the institutional system established by the Treaties. In particular, the Court is to balance between the powers of the Community institutions on one hand and between the community and the powers retained by the Member States on the other hand.
In the exercise of its review, the Court is often called upon to decide in matters of constitutional nature or of major economic importance.
The European Court of Justice should not be confused with the ECHR – European Court Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, which is an institution of the Council of Europe.
Our lawyers can offer more information on the role of the EU courts in debt collection matters.
What are the laws applying to the recognition of EU court decisions?
As seen above, Germany is one of the founders of the European Union, therefore it takes part in all decision-making when it comes to legislation and harmonization of EU laws and regulations with the national legislation. The same principle applies in debt collection cases where German claimants can ask for a case to be tried by an EU court and then have the decision recognized and enforced in Germany.
The following laws apply when it comes to the recognition of EU court decisions in Germany:
- the Convention on Jurisdiction and Recognition and Enforcement of Judgements in Civil and Commercial Matters (the Lugano Convention);
- the Hague Convention on Civil Procedure and the Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions Related to the Maintenance of Obligations;
- the German Civil Procedure Code which contains specific provisions related to the recognition and enforcement of foreign court decisions;
- the German Insolvency Law which can apply in cases where international agreements have not been signed;
- the Law on Proceedings in Family Matters and Matters on Non-contentious Jurisdictions in Germany.
Under the national legislation, Section 328 provides for the recognition of foreign judgments, including decisions issued by EU courts, while Sections 722 and 723 in the Civil Procedure Code provide for the enforcement of such decisions.
These sections of the Civil Code also apply in debt collection in Germany. Those who want to have an EU court decision recognized in Germany can request the services of our lawyers.
The main requisites to have an EU court decision recognized in Germany
It is important to know that the recovery of debt can be started by a debt collection agency in Germany, however, once the court proceedings begin the claimant is advised to hire a lawyer. This advice will turn into an obligation when the claimant has been issued a favorable decision by an EU court and needs to have it recognized and enforced in Germany.
In order to be acknowledged and enforced by a German court, an EU court decision must satisfy the following conditions:
- the foreign court, including the EU court, must have the competence in ruling on international disputes;
- the claimant must have proof that the court had jurisdiction over the international matter it ruled in;
- the defendant has benefitted from proper and timely information on the proceedings against him;
- the defendant has benefitted from a proper defense and cannot invoke procedural mistakes;
- the German court will rule if the foreign creditor has filed for the recognition and enforcement of the judgment in the location where the German defendant lives or is registered.
These principles also apply in debt collection cases in Germany, which is why obtaining professional assistance from a law firm is necessary.
Our debt collection lawyers in Germany can offer legal assistance in such matters. We can also help with the enforcement of judgments in debt collection procedures issued by local courts of justice.
Documents required when having an EU court decision recognized in Germany
In order to have an EU court decision recognized in Germany, the claimant must file certain documents with the German court. Among these are:
- the copy of the foreign judgment which must be authenticated by a public notary;
- the authenticated translation of the judgment if it is not issued in German;
- the European Enforcement Certificate in original;
- the European Enforcement Order Certificate in original and an authenticated translated copy if it;
- the court fee receipt.
The recognition of an EU court decision will usually provide for the enforcement of the judgment, especially in debt collection cases in Germany. For this purpose, the German court can dispose the measures to be taken with respect to the recovery of the debt.
If you need help in having an EU court decision recognized and enforced in Germany, do not hesitate to contact our lawyers.