EU Regulation No 655/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council to facilitate cross-border debt recovery in civil and commercial matters, in force since 18 January 2017.

It has been over a year now since the European Account Preservation Order (EAPO) came into force. However, a great number of people are still not aware of its purpose and benefits. Thus, this article shall serve as a short reminder.

Applicability

An EAPO prevents the transfer and/or withdrawal of funds - up to the amount specified in the order - which are held by the debtor or on his/her behalf in a bank account maintained in a Member State of the European Union (except the UK and Denmark).

It is designed for creditors, but also for companies or consumers, domiciled in a Member State, and who hold money claims against a debtor in another Member State. 

Granting of an EAPO

To ensure the intended protection, the EAPO can be filed at any procedural stage, even before the initiation of proceedings. The debtor is not included in the proceedings to guarantee the surprise effect (ex parte procedure).

The application has to be filed at the court that would be competent for the proceedings on the substance of the matter (main proceedings). If a title has already been obtained in one Member State, then it has to be filed at the respective court in this Member State.

In case the creditor has not yet obtained a judgment in the main proceedings, the court shall issue its decision on the EAPO within 10 working days, otherwise within 5. If the creditor has not initiated the main proceedings when applying for an EAPO, he/she has to do so and provide proof of this to the court within 30 days of the application or 14 days of the issuance of the EAPO, whichever date is later.

The obtained EAPO can serve for further account preservations in other Member States. Thus, the creditor only has to prove once that the requirements for an order are met.

Last but not least, another feature of the EAPO is that it assists creditors in tracing bank accounts. In case a creditor has reason to believe that the debtor holds accounts with a bank in a specific Member State, but without having any further details, he/she may file a request to obtain the account information. This application can be filed if the creditor already has an enforceable title against the debtor. However, if the creditor holds a title that is not yet enforceable, he/she may still file a request in case of an urgent need for the account information, i.e. there is a risk that the enforcement would be jeopardised otherwise.