Enforcement of a Court Decision in Portugal

Updated on Tuesday 26th February 2019

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The enforcement in Portugal is considered a judicial action by which an individual or legal person is required by the Court to adopt appropriate measures for the effective repair of a right that has been violated. Therefore, in order to start any enforcement procedure is needed a court decision for the performance of a duty and the coercive implementation of its content.

In Portugal the enforcement documents are represented by executive titles issued by the courts, orders and any other acts or decisions of judicial authority, decisions issued by arbitral tribunals, authenticated documents formally drawn up by a public notary that manages the establishment or recognition of any obligation, private documents, signed by the debtor, implying the establishment or recognition of financial obligations.

The implementation of these titles always takes place within a case pending before a court.

The entitled authority to manage the enforcement procedure is the bailiff, legal entity that can be appointed either by the creditor, either by default – by the Court that issued the decision.

The bailiff is a procedural employee that, under the supervision of the Board of Advisors and the functional dependence of the trial judge, exercises the special powers of enforcement agent and other functions as assigned by law.

The bailiff is responsible for all the actions taken in the application of an enforcement document and must, at each step, inform the debtor about the measure taken against him.

The bailiff will act on the basis of a writ of execution, document which must be obtained by the creditor from the competent court.

The debtor has the right to fill an appeal against the writ of execution, situation in which the case is transfer to a court of second instance.

When the debtor does not contest the writ of execution within ten days, the decision issued by the court is final and once the document is sent to the bailiff, compulsory measures can be applied.

In this sense, the bailiff can take the following actions: attachment of the debtor’s assets (monies, personal property and even property joint with third parties), seizure of assets and finally selling the debtor’s assets in order to recover the debt.

As a general rule, once the bailiff has started taking action, the debtor loses the right to dispose of his assets until the claim is fulfilled.

This measure is applied for movable and immovable goods, monies, bank deposits, shares or other items, in the amount and on the conditions provided by the Portuguese law.

The claim is considered to be fulfilled when all the debt is recovered and the court and procedural costs are paid.             
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