What happens in enforcement proceedings?

Enforcement instrument

You can request the assistance of a bailiff if you have an enforcement instrument that the debtor has not complied with or only complied with in part. The most common enforcement documents are court judgements and rulings in civil cases, criminal cases, misdemeanour cases and administrative proceedings that have entered into force or are subject to immediate enforcement. The above list is not final and a full list of enforcement instruments in subsection 2 (1) of the Code of Enforcement Procedure.

Application for enforcement

Submit an application for enforcement to a bailiff in order to initiate enforcement proceedings. If you would like to initiate enforcement proceedings at our office, you will find the form of the application for enforcement on our website under Claimant – Fill in application for enforcement. The enforcement instrument that has entered into force or is subject to immediate enforcement must be enclosed with the application. The claimant must obtain the notation on entry into force for the enforcement instrument from the authority that issued the decision. When you fill in the application for enforcement, please note the assets on which you would like to make a claim for payment: immovable property, movable property, right of claim. (You may choose all of them.) You may note in the application for enforcement whether you’re prepared to allow the debtor to pay on the basis of a schedule and what the documents are the debtor should provide to you when applying for a payment schedule. Before you submit the application for enforcement, make sure that you have chosen a bailiff in whose jurisdiction the debtor’s place of residence or assets are located. You will find the list and contact details of bailiffs on the website of the Estonian Chamber of Bailiffs and Trustees in Bankruptcy.

Enforcement proceedings, payment schedule

After receiving an application for enforcement from the claimant, the bailiff initiates enforcement proceedings by delivering the enforcement instrument, the enforcement notice and the decision on the bailiff’s fee to the debtor. The debtor is given a deadline for voluntary payment in the enforcement notice, which is usually 10 days but depending on the enforcement instrument may be up to 90 days.

After receiving an enforcement notice, the debtor often contacts the bailiff and requests a payment schedule for settling the debt. The bailiff does not have the right to allow payment on the basis of a schedule without the consent of the bailiff. The bailiff asks the debtor to fill in the payment schedule application form, where the debtor requests the option to pay them back in monthly instalments, specifying the date of the monthly payment, personal data, current account, dependants, existing obligations and income, and whether they have any requests regarding the release of their bank account or wages from seizure. The debtor must submit an account statement for the last six months (in pdf format when taken from the Internet bank) and documents evidencing their income when submitting the payment schedule form. These documents will be submitted to the claimant, who will decide whether and on what conditions the debtor will be allowed to use a payment schedule.

If the enforcement instrument is not complied with during the deadline for voluntary compliance and the claimant has not allowed a payment schedule, a claim for payment will be made against the debtor’s income (monthly wages, salary, legal support, state pension as well as the benefits and compensation received (the latter may be regular or one-off), movable and immovable property and rights of claim.

The bailiff assesses the prospects of the enforcement proceedings, the size of the debt, whether it can be withheld in reasonable time from the debtor’s income (wages, pension, remuneration of management board member, etc.) and when the expropriation of the registered assets belonging to the debtor should start. If the claimant does not start receiving money within reasonable time after the initiation of the enforcement proceedings, it would be advisable to contact the bailiff or the administrator of enforcement proceedings to review the action taken and discuss further action.

Rights and obligations of claimant

The claimant has the right to receive information about the course of the enforcement proceedings, make complaints to the bailiff, including contest the bailiff’s decisions about the resolution of the complaint in court, be present at the seizure of assets, participate in auctions and make bids, request sale of assets in other ways than at auctions. Bailiffs can be changed in the course of enforcement proceedings in the following cases: Removing a bailiff is possible from the debtor’s standpoint as stipulated in § 9 of the Code of Enforcement Procedure. From the standpoint of the claimant, the proceedings can be terminated in any stage. Subsection 41 (2) of the Bailiffs Act stipulates that if the claimant applies for the termination of enforcement proceedings before collection of the claim in full by a bailiff and the bailiff has performed enforcement actions in order to collect the claim, the claimant will pay the fee for commencement of proceedings and one-half of the basic fee of proceedings on the uncollected amount. The costs of enforcement proceedings are ordinarily paid by the debtor, who pays the fee for commencement, the bailiff’s basic fee and the enforcement costs that emerge during the proceedings. The bailiff has the legal right to request advance payment of the fee for commencement of the proceedings from the claimant. In general, our office does not request advance payment of the fee for commencement of enforcement proceedings. The bailiff has the right to request an advance payment when enforcing an eviction decision, which may include the cost of opening the lock, moving expenses, storage expenses and other similar expenses. If the bailiff’s fee has been collected from the debtor in full, the bailiff will return the advance payment to the claimant within one month from the collection of the fee. If an enforcement procedure must be terminated without the claim being settled, the advance payment of the bailiff’s fee will not be refunded to the claimant. Basis: § 33 of the Bailiffs Act. The easiest and fastest way to obtain information about enforcement proceedings is to send a query to the e-mail address given in the contact details, specifying the enforcement proceedings about which you would like to receive information. The claimant can make an appointment to see the bailiff and the administrator of enforcement proceedings, where they can review the enforcement file, receive copies and explanations about the process of enforcement proceedings, make suggestions and receive feedback.