Enforcement of foreign judgments in France

Enforcement covers all proceedures that compel a debtor to execute their obligations under an enforceable title.

Enforceable titles are primarily judgments, acts of decisions provided for in law (French or foreign) and notarial acts that are certified enforceable In French law, these titles can impose three types of obligations on the debtor: to pay, to do or to refrain from doing something, or to give or return.

The right of enforcement relates only to the debtor’s assets. This means, for example, that debtors cannot be imprisoned solely for failing to repay their debt. However, a refusal to comply with certain obligations (maintenance obligations) is a criminal offence, making the debtor liable to prosecution and potentially a prison sentence. The same applies to the fraudulent organisation of insolvency by a debtor.

Obligations to pay are enforceable by means of attachments of sums of money, movable property or immovable property belonging to the debtor. If the attachment concerns a sum of money, the sum attached will be assigned to the creditor (for instance, attachment of a bank account). If the attachment concerns movable or immovable property belonging to the debtor, the attachment will result in the compulsory sale of the asset and the proceeds of the sale will be given to the creditor, up to the amount of his or her claim.

Obligations to give or to return vary depending on the nature of the asset.

In the case of movable property, the asset is seized, by way of an attachment, to be returned to the legitimate owner. In the case of immovable property, possession of the property is returned to the owner by evicting the occupant.

Since it is prohibited to us physical force to compel a person to perform an obligation or to refrain from doing something, the debtor is encouraged to perform those obligations by the handing down, by the court, of a pecuniary penalty. The amount of the penalty is the sum of money the debtor must pay if he or she does not perform his or her obligations. The sum due is calculated in proportion to the period of failure to perform (in the case of obligations to do something) or according to the number of breaches of the obligation to refrain from doing something. Since obligations to pay, to give or to return are also interpreted as obligations to do something, they may also be combined with a pecuniary penalty in addition to other compulsory enforcement measures that may be taken. It should also be noted that only the obligations established by an enforceable title may, in principle, be subject to compulsory enforcement measures.


Contact Us

If you require further information or advice from our team of specialist lawyers, please contact a member of our Client Relations Team by: