Tag Archives: National law

Insolvency proceedings

Insolvency proceedings

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Insolvency proceedings

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in civil matters

Insolvency proceedings

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 1346/2000 of 29 May 2000 on insolvency proceedings.

Summary

This regulation establishes a common framework for insolvency proceedings in the European Union (EU). The purpose of harmonised arrangements regarding insolvency proceedings is to avoid assets or judicial proceedings from being transferred from one EU country to another in order to obtain a more favourable legal position to the detriment of creditors (“forum shopping”).

It should be noted that one quarter of cases of insolvency in the EU are associated with late payments.

Avoiding the transfer of assets or judicial proceedings from one EU country to another

Cases of insolvency with cross-border implications affect the proper functioning of the internal market. With a view to developing more uniform procedures that will discourage the parties from transferring assets or judicial proceedings from one EU country to another in order to obtain a more favourable legal position, the proposed solutions rely on the principle of proceedings with universal scope. At the same time, they retain the possibility of opening secondary proceedings within the territory of the EU country concerned.

The regulation applies to “collective insolvency proceedings that entail the partial or total divestment of a debtor and the appointment of a liquidator”. It applies equally to all proceedings, whether the debtor is a natural or a legal person, a trader, or an individual. A “liquidator” is a person or body that administers or liquidates the assets of which the debtor has been divested or supervises the administration of his/her affairs. Annex C of the regulation lists the persons or bodies who are authorised to exercise this function in each EU country.

However, the regulation does not apply to insolvency proceedings concerning:

  • insurance undertakings;
  • credit institutions;
  • investment undertakings that provide services involving the holding of funds or securities for third parties;
  • collective investment undertakings.

Determining the courts with jurisdiction and the applicable law

The regulation defines the concept of “court” as a judicial or other competent body that is authorised in national law to open proceedings. The courts with jurisdiction to open the main proceedings are those of the EU country where the debtor has his/her centre of main interests. This should be the place where the debtor usually administers his/her interests and that is verifiable by third parties. In the case of a company or legal person, this is the place of the registered office, in the absence of proof to the contrary. In the case of a natural person, in principle it is the place where his/her work is domiciled or the place of his/her usual residence.

Secondary proceedings (listed in Annex B) may be opened subsequently in another EU country if the debtor has an establishment in its territory. “Establishment” means any place of operations where the debtor carries out a non-transitory economic activity with human resources and goods. The effects of the winding-up proceedings must be limited to the assets of the debtor located in that territory. The opening of such proceedings may be requested by the liquidator of the main proceedings or by other persons or authorities according to the law of the country in which the opening of the proceedings is requested. In some cases, such territorial proceedings may be opened independently before the main proceedings, if the local creditors and the creditors of the local establishment request it or where main proceedings cannot be opened under the law of the EU country where the debtor has his/her centre of interests. However, these proceedings will become secondary proceedings once the main proceedings are opened.

The law of the EU country in which insolvency proceedings are opened determines all the terms of those proceedings: the conditions for their opening, conduct and closure. It also determines practical rules such as the definition of debtors and assets, the respective powers of the debtor and the liquidator, the effects of proceedings on contracts, individual creditors, claims, etc.

There are provisions throughout the EU guaranteeing the rights in rem of third parties, the right of a creditor to demand a set-off and the right of a seller based on reservation of title, such that these rights are not affected by the opening of the proceedings. Rights to immovable property are governed solely by the law of the EU country where the property is situated. Similarly, employment contracts and relationships, as well as the rights and obligations of parties to a payment or settlement system or to a financial market are governed solely by the law of the EU country that is applicable to them (for further details, see the directive on settlement finality in payment and securities settlement systems).

Recognition of insolvency proceedings

Decisions by the court with jurisdiction for the main proceedings are to be recognised immediately in other EU countries without further scrutiny, except:

  • where the effects of such recognition would be contrary to the country’s public policy;
  • in the case of judgments that might result in a limitation of personal freedom or postal secrecy.

However, restrictions on creditors’ rights (a stay or discharge) are possible only if they have given their consent.

If a court of an EU country decides to open insolvency proceedings, the decision is to be recognised in all other EU countries, even if the debtor could not be the subject of such proceedings in the other countries. The effects of the decision are those provided for by the law of the country in which proceedings are opened and they come to an end in the event of secondary proceedings being opened in another EU country.

The liquidator appointed by a court with jurisdiction may act in the other EU countries in accordance with his powers provided for by the law of the EU country where the proceedings are opened, but respecting the law of the country on whose territory s/he is acting. In particular, s/he may have the debtor’s assets removed and may bring any action to set aside that is in the interests of the creditors if assets were removed from the country of the main proceedings after the opening of the proceedings, subject to rights in rem of third parties or reservation of title.

A creditor domiciled in the EU who obtains total or partial satisfaction of his/her claim on the assets belonging to the debtor must return what s/he has obtained to the liquidator (subject to rights in rem or reservation of title). A consolidated account of dividends for the Union is drawn up to ensure that creditors receive equivalent dividends.

Publication measures may be taken in any other EU country at the request of the liquidator (publication of the decision opening the insolvency proceedings and/or registration in a public register). Publication may be mandatory, but in any event it is not a prior condition for recognition of the foreign proceedings.

If a person concerned is not aware of the opening of proceedings, s/he may be considered to act in good faith when making a payment to the debtor instead of the liquidator in another EU country. If such a payment is made before publication of the decision opening the proceedings, the person concerned is considered to have been unaware of the opening of proceedings. On the other hand, if a payment is made after publication of the decision, the person concerned is assumed to have been aware unless there is proof to the contrary.

Limitation of the applicability of the regulation

The regulation does not apply to:

  • Denmark;
  • any EU country where it is irreconcilable with obligations in respect of winding-up resulting from a convention concluded prior to its entry into force by this country and one or more third countries;
  • the United Kingdom, to the extent that it is irreconcilable with existing arrangements with the Commonwealth.

The regulation applies to insolvency proceedings opened after its entry into force on 31 May 2002. It replaces existing bilateral and multilateral conventions between two or more EU countries.

Background

The winding-up of insolvent companies, compositions and analogous proceedings are excluded from the scope of the 1968 Brussels Convention. Work has been carried out at various levels since 1963 with a view to formulating a Community instrument in the field. A convention on insolvency proceedings was concluded on 23 November 1995. However, this convention could not enter into force because one EU country failed to sign it within the time limit.

The Amsterdam Treaty, signed on 2 October 1997, lays down new provisions for judicial cooperation in civil matters. It was on this basis that this regulation on insolvency proceedings was adopted.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1346/2000

31.5.2002

OJ L 160 of 30.6.2000

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 1346/2000 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated versionis for reference purposes only.

Taking account of convictions in Member States in the course of new criminal proceedings

Taking account of convictions in Member States in the course of new criminal proceedings

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Taking account of convictions in Member States in the course of new criminal proceedings

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in criminal matters

Taking account of convictions in Member States in the course of new criminal proceedings

Document or Iniciative

Council Framework Decision 2008/675/JHA of 24 July 2008 on taking account of convictions in the Member States of the European Union in the course of new criminal proceedings.

Summary

This Framework Decision establishes the criteria whereby previous convictions * delivered by any Member State are taken into account during criminal proceedings in another Member State against the same person, but for different facts.

The information regarding previous convictions can be obtained under applicable instruments on mutual assistance in criminal matters between Member States or on the exchange of information extracted from the criminal record. In the context of new criminal proceedings, Member States must ensure that previous convictions handed down in another Member State are duly taken into consideration under the same conditions as the previous national convictions.

The previous convictions are to be taken into account at the pre-trial and trial stage, as well as when the conviction is executed. They should be given due consideration especially in relation to the applicable rules of procedure concerning:

  • provisional detention;
  • definition of the offence;
  • type and level of the sentence;
  • execution of the decision.

When previous convictions are taken into consideration by the Member State conducting the new proceedings, this shall not have the effect of interfering with, revoking or reviewing the previous convictions.

In instances where the previous conviction was not handed down or fully executed by another Member State prior to the commission of the offence for which the new proceedings are conducted, it is not required to comply with national rules on imposing sentences, if the application of the national rules to previous foreign convictions limits the judge in imposing a sentence. Nevertheless, the previous convictions must be taken into consideration by other means.

This Framework Decision replaces Article 56 of the European Convention of 28 May 1970 on the International Validity of Criminal Judgements as between the Member States. The Article provides for the possibility to take into consideration criminal judgements handed down in other states that are parties to the Convention.

Background

The programme of measures to implement the principle of mutual recognition of decisions in criminal matters was adopted by the Council on 29 November 2000. This programme also provides for the establishment of the principle by which a Member State must take into account previous criminal judgements rendered by the courts in other Member States, in order to assess the offender’s criminal record, establish whether s/he has reoffended and decide on the type of sentence and its execution.

Key terms used in the act
  • Conviction: any final decision of a criminal court establishing guilt of a criminal offence.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Council Framework Decision 2008/675/JHA

24.7.2008

15.8.2010

OJ L 220 of 15.8.2008

Mutual information mechanism for national asylum and immigration measures

Mutual information mechanism for national asylum and immigration measures

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Mutual information mechanism for national asylum and immigration measures

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Mutual information mechanism for national asylum and immigration measures

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2006/688/EC of 5 October 2006 on the establishment of a mutual information mechanism concerning Member States’ measures in the areas of asylum and immigration.

Summary

The mutual information mechanism (MIM) provides for exchanges of information between the Commission and European Union (EU) countries concerning national laws on asylum and immigration.

EU countries are required to transmit through a web-based network, and using the report form annexed to the decision, the measures they intend to take or have recently taken. Such information should be transmitted as soon as possible and at the latest when it becomes publicly available.

EU countries are required to communicate to the Commission and the other EU countries only measures that are likely to have a significant impact:

  • in other EU countries;
  • at the level of the EU as a whole.

The Commission is responsible for the development and management of the network. In setting up the network, it will make use of the existing technical platform of the trans-European telematic network for the exchange of information between EU country authorities (CIRCA). The network has a specific functionality that allows the Commission and EU countries to request from one or more countries additional information on measures communicated.

Any specific national measure notified in this way may give rise to an exchange of views between EU country experts and the Commission. In addition to these technical discussions, the Commission will prepare each year a report summarising the most relevant information transmitted by EU countries. The report will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for use as the basis of ministerial discussions on national asylum and immigration policies.

The Commission will evaluate the functioning of the mechanism two years after the entry into force of the decision and regularly thereafter.

Background

National measures in the areas of immigration and asylum are likely to have an impact on other EU countries. This is due to the absence of border checks in the Schengen area, the close economic and social relations between EU countries and the development of common visa, immigration and asylum policies.

The EU has been striving to draw up a common asylum and immigration policy since the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999. Although a large number of common measures have already been taken in these areas at the EU level, the national authorities continue to play an important role, notably in the areas not yet covered by EU rules. They are constantly adopting new measures (e.g. important changes to asylum and immigration policies, setting quotas, large-scale regularisation measures or concluding readmission agreements) that may have implications for other EU countries or for the EU as a whole.

Therefore, this decision proposes the establishment of a formal information procedure between EU countries and the Commission, with the aim of improving the coordination of immigration and asylum policies between EU countries.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2006/688/EC

3.11.2006

OJ L 283 of 14.10.2006

Related Acts

Report from the Commission of 17 December 2009 pursuant to Article 4 and 5 of the Council Decision of 5 October 2006 on the establishment of a mutual information mechanism concerning Member States’ measures in the areas of asylum and immigration [COM(2009) 687 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This report contains a summary of the most relevant information transmitted by EU countries and an evaluation on the functioning of the MIM during its first operational period.
From the beginning of the MIM becoming operational in April 2007 until 30 September 2009, only 16 EU countries had transmitted information via the MIM on only 45 measures:

  • 21 on adopted legislation;
  • 4 on draft legislation;
  • 9 on policy intentions and long-term programming;
  • 7 on administrative decisions affecting a large group of non-EU country nationals or having a general nature;
  • 4 on other measures.

No communications were made on final decisions of the highest courts or tribunals.
The format in which the communications were made was rarely homogenous. The reporting form annexed to the decision was not always used, which resulted in the ineffective reception of information in that the essence of the measures or their impact remained unidentifiable. In addition to this, at times only the English title and the text in the original language were provided, resulting in problems of comprehension. There were also differences in the contents of the reporting forms submitted: some were fairly comprehensive, while others only provided a cursory description without indication of the nature of the measure.
The MIM cannot be deemed as fulfilling its objectives since the quantity of information submitted was nominal. The rate of information exchanges varied somewhat, reaching an all-time low in 2009 with only 4 communications.
Yet, there is no evidence that the unsatisfactory application of the decision is caused by its provisions. In addition, since the MIM has only been operational for a short period, the Commission does not yet consider it relevant to propose amendments to the decision.

Criminal acts and the applicable penalties

Criminal acts and the applicable penalties

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Criminal acts and the applicable penalties

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

Criminal acts and the applicable penalties

Document or Iniciative

Council Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA of 25 October 2004 laying down minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties in the field of illicit drug trafficking.

Summary

This framework decision lays down minimum provisions on criminal acts and the penalties applicable to drug trafficking.

Offences

The framework decision requires each European Union (EU) country to take the necessary measures to sanction all intentional behaviour relating to the trafficking in drugs and precursors.

“Drugs” are defined as any substances covered by the 1961 United Nations (UN) Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances or as any substances subject to controls under Joint Action 97/396/JHA. Precursors are substances used to produce legal products such as medicines, but that can also be used to produce illicit drugs. They are classified in EU law on the basis of Article 12 of the 1988 UN Convention.

Acts linked to drug trafficking include production, manufacture, extraction, sale, transport, importation and exportation. Possession and purchase with a view to engaging in activities linked with drug trafficking are also taken into account, as are the manufacture, transport and distribution of precursors. Incitement to drug trafficking, aiding and abetting such activity, and attempting to traffic in drugs are regarded as offences.

However, this framework decision does not cover activities relating to the trafficking in drugs for personal consumption.

Liability of legal persons

The framework decision requires EU countries to take measures to ensure that legal persons can be held to account for offences linked with trafficking in drugs and precursors, as well as for aiding and abetting, inciting or attempting such activity. The concept of legal persons as used here does not include states and public bodies in the exercise of their powers or public international organisations.

An organisation is liable if the offence is committed by an individual who has a leading position within that organisation. It is also held responsible for shortcomings in supervision or control. However, the liability of legal persons does not exclude criminal proceedings against natural persons.

Sanctions

The framework decision requires EU countries to take the necessary measures to ensure that offences are subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties.

If an offence is committed in whole or in part within an EU country’s territory, that country must take measures, provided that the offender is one of its nationals or that the offence was committed for the benefit of a legal person established within its territory.

The maximum penalties for minor offences must be at least between one and three years’ imprisonment. EU countries must also take the necessary measures to confiscate substances used to commit offences.

Maximum penalties must be at least between five and ten years of deprivation of liberty in cases where the offence:

  • involves large quantities of drugs;
  • involves those drugs that are most harmful to health;
  • is committed within the framework of a criminal organisation.

However, penalties may be reduced if the offender renounces his illegal activities and provides information to the administrative or legal authorities that will help identify other offenders.

Sanctions for legal persons must include fines for criminal or non-criminal offences. Other sanctions may also be imposed, including placing the establishment under judicial supervision or closing it temporarily or permanently.

Background

This framework decision follows up the conclusions of the 1999 Tampere European Council, which called on EU countries to adopt additional legal provisions to combat trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The EU action plan to combat drugs (2000-04) also called for measures to introduce minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties on drug trafficking.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA

12.11.2004

12.5.2006

OJ L 335 of 11.11.2004

Related Acts

Report from the Commission of 10 December 2009 on the implementation of Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA laying down minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties in the field of illicit drug trafficking [COM(2009) 669 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
In line with the requirements of Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA, this report evaluates its application by EU countries. However, six EU countries had failed to report on their transposition measures by the deadline.
Compliance with the provisions of the framework decision is problematic, in particular as regards:

  • crimes linked to trafficking in drugs;
  • passive liability of and sanctions for legal persons;
  • jurisdiction in cases where the offence is committed outside an EU country for the benefit of a legal person established in the territory of that country.

While national legislations can be considered to be in line with the requirements of the framework decision regarding penalties, these differ greatly from one EU country to another and are, in general, much higher than those established by the framework decision.
On the whole, the framework decision has resulted in little changes to the national legislations of EU countries. Consequently, the Commission is calling on those EU countries that provided no information or incomplete information to report back on their transposition measures.