If a debtor refuses to repay their financial obligations, the creditor may only depend on legal procedures. Firstly, they need to obtain the so-called Enforcement Order (usually a court decision) and only after having done so they may effectively enforce the decision.
For the enforcement procedure to be followed in the Czech Republic, the debtor’s possessions need to be valuable enough so as to cover the debts (by means of an auction etc.) and both domestic and foreign decisions may be executed; in the latter case, the debtor’s possessions may be represented by ownership of shares in a Czech company, a property in CZE etc.
There are two basic procedure options in the Czech Republic – the decisions may either be enforced by a court or a bailiff with the latter possibility being rather more popular with the creditors for its effectiveness; we shall, therefore, focus on this type of process in our analysis.
The exact procedure of a foreign court’s decision primarily depends on which state the decision in question comes from. Generally, three possible scenarios may be described.
Case 1 – a decision given by a court of another EU member state.
In this case, the unified rules for acknowledgement and enforcement of judicial decisions of a court in another member state apply as amended by regulation Brussels I bis. Based on this, the court decision and a special certificate defined by the regulation are sufficient for the creditor to contact a bailiff in the Czech Republic, who will, then, apply the same method as they do in cases of Czech decisions.
Case 2 – a decision given by a court of a third state (i.e. the USA, Russia etc.) without the Legal Aid Convention signed
Here, the situation is far more complex for the creditors. The first step would be to ascertain whether a Legal Aid Convention has been ratified between the Czech Republic and the state in question and to examine its applicability. If no such contract exists, the creditor is to pursue the Czech adaptation of the Private International Act, based on which the creditor is obliged to take special Czech court proceedings prior to employing a bailiff. The aim of the proceedings is an acknowledgement of the foreign court decision by a Czech authority which will enable its enforcement.
Case 3 - a decision given by a court of a third state (i.e. the USA, Russia etc.) with the Legal Aid Convention entered into
The international legal aid contracts usually require simplified procedures regarding the acknowledgement or decision enforcement declaration from the other signatory state(s); the difficulty lies in the fact that majority of these agreements were entered into before the court bailiffs started to operate in the Czech Republic (the office was legally established in 2001) and the decision enforcement was solely executed by courts, which frequently results in the creditor being unable to make use of the Convention and, same as above, having to pursue the Czech law, i.e. the Private International Act since the simplified procedure as amended by the Convention may not be adopted.
As may be seen, the enforcement of a foreign court decision in the Czech Republic expects profound understanding of both Czech and foreign legal frameworks and also commitments in the field of international law taken on by the Czech Republic. This being said, it is highly recommendable to turn to an experienced lawyer who will be able to identify the legal amendment which is to be utilized, to obtain the acknowledgement of the decision by a Czech court and to forward the issue to a bailiff who will enforce the decision independently. Should the creditor contact the bailiff directly even though the acknowledgement is necessary, there would be a high risk of the enforcement being stopped and, therefore, the whole process would become fairly complicated.