Books Developments in PIL Scholarship

Kennett on Civil Enforcement in a Comparative Perspective

A new book on civil enforcement entitled Civil Enforcement in a Comparative Perspective by Wendy Kennett (Senior Lecturer in Law at Cardiff University and Founding Chair of the Bailiff Law Reform Group (BLRG), now the Enforcement Law Review Group) has been published with Intersentia.

This work by Kennett is particularly important because it concerns an area – civil enforcement – where few scholars conduct their research. Additionally, literature is very limited when it comes to works choosing a comparative format to the topic.

Enforcement officers (bailiffs) are part of the machinery of justice and exercise state authority, yet their role and regulation have been subjected to little academic scrutiny until now. This is surprising given that they exercise state authority and, in most jurisdictions, have extensive access to information about debtors, as well as significant coercive powers. Across jurisdictions different institutions have been in charged with carrying out civil enforcement: courts, officers under the supervision of the courts but external to them, administrative agencies, independent professionals and even freelance certificated agents. The functions that these institutions undertake often extends beyond the enforcement of judgments and other enforcement titles: in some countries they can issue payment orders, or act as administrators in bankruptcy; they may play a significant role in the amicable recovery of debts, or be involved in debt restructuring procedures; they may be limited to the enforcement of civil judgments and authentic instruments, or also collect taxes and other public law debts. In the latter case, mass processing requirements shape the character of the enforcement institution.

The book seeks to expose to view this fertile research territory. In doing so, it sets out two objectives. First, to highlight and explain the diversity of bailiff organisations in Europe. Second, to ask how far governments are taking responsibility for the public management of enforcement activities in the light of their impact on citizens and the increased significance attributed to personal autonomy and financial capability in the ‘neoliberal’ era. In this latter context, attention is paid to the influence of public management trends over the last thirty years and to questions of digital government and data protection.

The text is addressed to academics and policy makers interested in domestic and cross-border enforcement of judgments and orders, the regulation of the legal profession, comparative law and comparative public management – particularly in the context of the administration of justice. It also contains information of relevance to scholars of institutional theory, competition law, transnational public policy transfer and social policy in the area of debt and poverty. The legal systems addressed include Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Germany, and Central and Eastern European Countries.

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