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Freezing a debtor's bank account


People who are trying to get their money back from a debtor in another EU country can do so by having a civil court order enforced in that country. However, creditors trying to recuperate the money they are owed often run into practical difficulties such as different legal systems, procedural requirements and language barriers. All these obstacles bring additional costs and delays.

European account preservation order

The new rules on a European account preservation order procedure (EAPO) allow for the blocking of a debtor's bank account. Creditors can freeze the amount owed to them in a debtor's bank account located in the EU, if there is a risk that the enforcement of their claim would be impeded or made more difficult if the order were not to be issued.

This order can be crucial in debt recovery proceedings because it prevents debtors from moving their assets while the enforcement of a judgment is pending.

How does it work?

The EAPO is available to the creditor in cross-border cases, as an alternative to instruments under national law.

The new European order allows creditors to preserve funds in bank accounts under the same conditions in all EU countries. The EAPO would be issued without the debtor's knowledge.

This “surprise effect” is essential for the effectiveness of the order– if the debtor is warned that the creditor wants to freeze their accounts, chances are that the money will have been moved elsewhere by the time the court orders the "freeze".

The creditor can apply for the EAPO prior to obtaining a judgment on the merits of the case or after they have obtained a judgment.

13 JUNE 2017
Regulation (EU) No 655/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 establishing a European Account Preservation Order procedure to facilitate cross-border debt recovery in civil and commercial matters
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18 JANUARY 2017
Factsheet: European Account Preservation Order
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