Bailiffs and collection agencies under the eye of the DGCCRF

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A few months ago, the DGCCRF conducted an investigation to verify the absence of unfair commercial practices while gathering information on the implementation of the new simplified procedure for the collection of debts of less than 4,000 euros. This procedure allows, under certain conditions, to obtain a writ of execution from a bailiff without having to go before a civil judge.

Of the 50 bailiffs' offices and 67 debt collection companies checked, more than 32% of the establishments were non-compliant. 15 warnings and 15 administrative injunctions were then sent to professionals as well as 10 criminal reports to the Justice.

DGCCRF: deceptive or aggressive commercial practices observed

Concerning the judicial officers, several failures were noted, in particular the imposition on the debtor to pay "transactional damages" in addition to the principal debt without having negotiated them beforehand or the invoicing of "summonses to pay", for which we enter - there - straight into a zone of non-law. As for the information on the cost of implementing the simplified procedure for the collection of small claims, it is still not provided.

Concerning debt collection companies, some of them use procedures that constitute aggressive commercial practices, by sending, for example, standard letters mentioning costs corresponding to a penal or administrative sanction, which cannot be included in an amicable collection procedure...

Many misleading commercial practices have also been noted. For example, some debt collection companies confuse the amicable collection phase with the judicial collection phase. Others claim costs in an illicit manner, as if they were legal costs, for example damages based on paragraph 3 of article 1231-6 of the Civil Code (former paragraph 4 of article 1153 of the Civil Code) without the conditions provided for by this text being met. Others still, invoice debtors for collection costs either unduly or by mentioning them under false names.

The new simplified procedure is not as successful as expected

In parallel with the control of commercial practices in the sector, the DGCCRF sought to evaluate the implementation of the new simplified procedure for the recovery of small claims.

The investigation established that this new procedure, of which the judicial officers have exclusive rights, is relatively little used. Indeed, given his ethical obligations, the judicial officer having established the enforcement title allowing the creditor to pursue the forced execution cannot implement this forced execution in case of failure of the amicable collection. It is thus another judicial officer who implements the forced collection, which does not seem attractive for the professionals concerned


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