Non-governmental organisations warn against dilution of the plan to introduce the territoriality of enforcement officers

5. 12. 2019

The undersigned non-governmental organisations, whose mission is to fight corruption, warn strongly against proposals by some to weaken two bills that introduce the territoriality of enforcement officers.

In the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament, two important bills that introduce the principle of territoriality for enforcement officers and the principle ‘one defaulter, one enforcement officer’ have passed to the second reading. In the debate over the government bill[1] the suggestion was made that the plan to deploy enforcement officers according to a territorial principle be compromised, to the benefit of large creditors and the detriment of the anti-corruption spirit of the proposed legislation.

The principle of regional territoriality, laid out in Print 295, has substantial anti-corruption potential, as it virtually eliminates the options available to private individuals and the public administration when entering into debt enforcement contracts. A uniform distribution of enforcement contracts among officers in the judicial region will substantially decrease the systemic potential for corruption among creditors and enforcement officers.

However, some MPs are currently working on an amendment to the bill that would introduce what has been called ‘petty territoriality’, according to which the territoriality principle would only apply in enforcement actions seeking to recover debt up to a certain value. This would be advantageous to the largest enforcement offices and the creditors (the proposal was presented during the first reading of the government bill by Patrik Nacher MP). Debts above this threshold would be assigned to enforcement officers according to the same principle as at present, when creditors choose ‘their’ debt enforcement officers with no limitations whatsoever; this would preserve the potential for systemic corruption. What is more, this variant does not do away with debt traps and fails to implement the principle of the local availability of officers. The independence of enforcement officers would be further compromised by the fact that any additional claims would be assigned to the ‘first’ enforcement officer.

To give a practical example: let’s say that Mr XY fails to repay a creditor 10,000 Kč. The enforcement officer will be chosen transparently, according to Mr XY’s domicile. However, if Mr XY owes, let’s say, 150,000 Kč from a non-bank loan – and the debt is enforceable – the enforcement officer will be chosen by the lender. In this second case, the enforcement officer may become dependent on the creditor – he owes them the contract to enforce – and hence is not necessarily independent, and thus not motivated to come to a just resolution of the enforcement action that considers the interests of the defaulter.

The undersigned non-governmental organisations protest against this distortion to the principle of territoriality, and appeal to MPs to reject any such proposals. Only then can the promises of fighting corruption and debt traps be kept.

 

Ondřej Závodský              Marek Zelenka         Petr Leyer                                       Josef Karlický

NFPK                               Oživení                   Transparency International ČR          Frank Bold Society

 

[1] First reading of the amendment to the Code of Civil Procedure, Chamber of Deputies Print 545