Sunday, 12 August 2012
Cross Border Enforcement - A One-Way Deal?
Actually, this is a taste of things to come. Although the Franco-Belge deal is bilateral, there is a legislative package called 'Brussels 1' hovering in the wings. This will make recovery of cross-border fines, and indeed other stuff, a lot easier in future.
But a word of warning.....
If you renege on a debt in the UK, you may end up with a County Court judgement against you. In Belgium, a court order can end up with armed police paying a person a call along with the bailiffs. Debt is a criminal offence here.
So in theory, and I have followed Brussels 1 through various committees, this is what could happen.
A person leaves Belgium, after a holiday, business trip, whatever, and has an unpaid bill. It may be as a result of oversight, dispute, or whatever. The aggrieved Belgian gets a court order - and pay attention here, this is now a criminal matter. As it is a criminal matter, the Belgians can issue a European Arrest Warrant, which the UK plod are obliged to act upon. As a result, the British citizen can be taken in and deported without any appeal at all. So much for Her Britannic Majesty demanding that Her subjects be treated with respect and all that.
Now I have to say that unlike in the UK now, Belgian coppers are a decent bunch, and are allowed a huge amount of discretion in how they deal with people. Its a nice change from the "we are above the law and if you look at us you are f***ing nicked" attitude of the Peelers.
But a European Arrest Warrant? Get one of those under your belt, and you will be lucky to work again, that's the reality of life in Britain.
On the other hand, if a Belgian runs off owing you money, you can get your County Court Judgement against him or her, but that is a civil matter, and so there will be no warrant for the Belgians to enforce.
Does that sound like a fair deal to you?
Incidentally, HMG is very keen on Brussels 1.