12. 4. 2017
In the past year, several EU citizens have received writs of execution issued by Croatian notaries public for the recovery of "contractual penalties" with regards to unpaid parking tickets in car parks owned by private companies from Croatia. Creditors often seek to recover sums from the debtors that are quite excessive when compared with the cost of the parking ticket itself. Debtors have the right to appeal such writs of execution. However, where debtors fail to appeal correctly, on time and in Croatian, this might result in a final and binding writ of execution for an amount far higher than the cost of the parking tickets.
Under Croatian law, notaries public may issue a writ of execution against Croatian nationals, based on an application for a writ of execution filed by car park owners or their lawyers. In the past years, Croatian notaries public have started to issue writs of execution against nationals of other EU Member States. Following a challenge to this practice the ECJ recently issued a judgment stating that in enforcement proceedings against nationals of EU Member States, notaries public in Croatia are not competent to issue writs of execution. Debtors who receive such writs may challenge them due to the absolute lack of authority (of the Croatian notary public).
Under local law, Croatian notaries may issue writs of execution against their own nationals. These writs are issued against nationals of other EU Member States on foot of applications by owners of car parks (or their lawyers). On the complaint of the affected borrowers, the EU Court in Luxembourg to a recent decision held that notaries in proceedings against nationals of other EU Member States are not competent to issue such writs of execution. Debtors who therefore receive such writs may object to the absolute lack authority of the issuing authority (i.e. the Croatian notary public).
Yet the lack of authority on the part of Croatian notaries public to issue writs of execution does not prevent car park owners from lodging applications for a European payment order (EPO) with the competent court in Croatia. The competent court can issue a writ of execution in a language understood by the debtor and send it to the debtor’s address. Debtors may appeal such writes of execution issued by the competent courts.
Whether an appeal is worth the cost is a decision for each debtor. However, it would certainly be wise to examine whether the claim under the writ of execution has expired or not. Moreover, it is worth checking whether other prerequisites for issuing a valid writ of execution have been met.