The enforcement of a decision in Germany

Enforcement is the process whereby creditors can uphold or protect their rights, with the help of law enforcement officers. In Germany, it is the rules of the Code of Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung) that apply.

For the creditor, the prerequisite for enforcement is the enforcement order, which must be certified as enforceable. This order must be served on the debtor. The question is knowing what orders can be used as a basis for enforcement. All these issues are regulated in the Code of Civil Procedure.

The competent enforcement parties are the judicial officer, the court responsible for enforcement, the court seised at first instance and the land register official. The competence of these parties depends on the type of claim. A distinction can be made here between enforcement in pecuniary matters and the enforcement of other claims (the obligation to do or refrain from doing something).

In certain cases, there may be a need for an interim measure. This sometimes arises in urgent cases in which the effects of ordinary proceedings might come too late. The Code of Civil Procedure makes a distinction between two cases: preventive attachment, which serves to protect pecuniary claims, and the ordering by the court of interim measures in order to secure a non-pecuniary claim. Unlike other legal systems, German law provides for ‘precautionary personal arrest’, in other words enforcement against the person, implemented through imprisonment or by other measures restricting the debtor’s freedom.

The e-notes cover the following issues: