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Prejudgment Attachment of Assets in France

Prejudgment Attachment of Assets in France

1° How to obtain a prejudgment attachment of the assets of a debtor in France?

Any person whose claim appears to be well-founded in principle may ask the judge for an authorization to take a protective measure against the debtor’s property, without a prior order, if he can prove that there are circumstances likely to threaten its recovery (French Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures, art. L. 511-1 and R. 511-1).

The prior authorization of the judge is not necessary when the creditor relies on an enforceable title or a court decision which is not yet enforceable or on the non-payment of an accepted bill of exchange, a promissory bill, a check or an unpaid rent resulting from a written contract for the rental of immovable property (Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures, art. L. 511-2).

2° The act of a prejudgment attachment of the assets of a debtor in France must be served on the debtor and the custodian of the attached assets

If the property to be seized is a claim on a third party, the creditor proceeds to the seizure by means of an act of a judicial officer served on the third party seized (Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures, art. R. 523-1).

Where the garnishee is a credit institution, the writ of attachment is transmitted to it electronically (Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures, art. L. 523-1-1).

Within a period of 8 days, under penalty of nullity, the seizure of property is notified to the debtor by a bailiff’s act. On pain of nullity, this act must contain a certain number of mandatory indications (Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures, art. R. 523-3).

The creditor must seize the competent court to obtain a judgment on the merits against the debtor within a period of one month after the interim attachment of assets has been enforced.

3° Effects of the prejudgment attachment of assets in France

The act of prejudgment attachment of assets in France (also termed “protective” or “interim” attachment of assets) renders the attached assets of the debtor in France unavailable, until a judgment on the merits is obtained.

The seizure automatically entails the consignment of the unavailable sums and their special allocation as a pledge to the seizing party.

The seizure of property is null and void when the seizure act is subsequent to the date of cessation of payments by the debtor.

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