Pantefogeder - Bailiffs


 Enforcement in Denmark is the responsibility of 3 different, organisationally separate units:

 1. The sheriffs - appointed by the local authorities - Pantefogeder

They alone can recover certain public sector claims, e.g., real estate tax, personal taxes, as well as child support and maintenance payments.

2. Customs and Tax Administration sheriffs - Told- og Skattefogeder

- appointed by the Ministry of Taxation in the Customs and Tax Regions. These sheriffs alone can also recover public sector claims, e.g., claims concerning inheritance taxes, VAT and corporation tax.

3. Sheriffs appointed by the enforcement court - Fogedretten

(Lawyers and assistants. The lawyers are members of the Dommerfuldmægtigforening). The enforcement court is a part of the district court. In principle, the local district court judge, or the chief judge if there are several district judges, is the head of the enforcement court. In practice, this function is nearly always delegated to a senior deputy judge or a deputy judge so that the enforcement court is always presided over by a lawyer, i.e., lawyers who can act as judges. (In summer 1999 a judicial reform will take effect which will mean that all lawyers employed at courts of law will be covered by employment protection which is comparable to a judge’s).

The enforcement courts recover all private claims and certain public claims, and the enforcement court can deal with complaints concerning sheriffs and local Customs and Tax sheriffs.  All enforcement officers are civil servants.

Main functions

Section 478 of the Danish Administration of Justice Act is the central statutory provision.

Enforcement can take place on the basis of:-

 1. Judgements and court settlements. According to section 480, subsection 1, of the Administration of Justice Act, the date of enforcement is determined such that the law already stipulates when a judgement can be enforced.

2. Agreements and provisions regarding parental custody and access which are either agreed before the Statsamt (the relevant county authority) or determined by the Statsamt in question.

3. Out of court settlement on debt due. THE VOLUNTARY SETTLEMENT . The voluntary settlement is agreed directly between the creditor and the debtor, often with a solicitor as intermediary. The voluntary settlement is signed by the debtor if he can acknowledge the size of the debt. The acknowledgement of debt is often combined with an amortisation scheme. If the debtor observes the amortisation scheme, the matter will generally be settled out of court. If the amortisation scheme is not adhered to or the debtor does not offer to repay the debt, the creditor’s solicitor will file a motion for enforcement with the enforcement court.

4. Instruments of debt and mortgage deeds, bills of exchange and cheques

Other "private" documents can also serve as the basis of execution. Instruments of debt - i.e., unilateral declarations of debt - and mortgages - i.e., declarations of debt in combination with the mortgage of either chattels personal or real estate - can make up the basis for enforcement proceedings. As far as I know, this is not usual in the rest of Europe. The Danish position has been - and continues to be - that documents of this type usually have a degree of clarity such that they can form the basis of enforcement proceedings, in particular because the debtor can present all objections - both objections with regard to the validity of the document in question and subsequent reasons for termination - to the enforcement court and have these reviewed by a lawyer who also generally functions as a judge. To use Central European terminology - the sheriff’s decision to proceed with the enforcement proceedings is in reality an "exequatur" ruling. In everyday terms, this decision is generally made informally.

With regard to bills of exchange and cheques, the opportunity to present objections is limited.