Bailiffs in France

Bailiffs in France

Professional Activities and Legal Framework

Their basic functions are:

  • to serve notice of something on somebody and to execute decisions rendered by courts and tribunals,
  • to obtain the repayment of debts,
  • to certify.

The huissier de justice is an advisor:

  • The Huissier de Justice solves conflicts between landlords and tenants, difficulties related to separation or divorce procedures. For instance, he/she ensures that the access to the children is respected.
  • The Huissier de Justice advises companies about their future partners. He/she obtains the repayment of debts.

The huissier de justice is a mediator:

  • The Huissier de Justice attempts to find an amicable solution and to avoid lengthy and expensive procedures.
  • The Huissier de Justice is a conciliator. He/she avoids the recourse to courts and tribunals. He/she in some ways replaces the Justice of the Peace.

Reserved activities for judicial officers/huissiers

The huissier de justice is alone competent:

  • to serve notice of acts,
  • to execute decisions of tribunals and courts, except for prison sentences which are reserved to the prison administration,
  • to enforce court decisions,
  • to accomplish the formalities necessary to the operation of the court case: He/she summons the persons concerned, and if they do not attend, informs them of the court’s decision, and
  • to seize the goods of the debtor.


Bailliffs are covered by the general Directives on mutual recognition of diplomas, unless they can show that their activities are exempt under the Treaty exceptions to free movement to be found in Articles 39 (4) or 45 EC. This is unlikely as the European Commission reportedly (Law Society Gazette) has recently decided (November 2000) that notaries are not to be considered as immune from the effects of the free movement articles of the Treaty.

Legal Education

Huissiers must now hold the degree of maîtrise in law (decree N° 75-770 of 14 August 1975) or a university diploma recognised as equivalent.

The intending huissier must also have a period of practical training by way of stage; the stage is normally carried out in the office of a practicing huissier and is of two years’ duration, although it may be reduced to one year where the candidate already holds certain other professional qualifications. During his stage, the candidate must participate fully in a programme of training leading to a professional examination.

After the successful completion of his stage, the candidate is admitted as a bailiff, a certificate to this effect being issued by the governing body for the area in which he proposes to practice. He is also nominated to exercise his ministerial office by a decision of the Minister of Justice, and he takes an oath for the proper conduct of his office.

Legal Training

Governing Bodies

La Chambre Nationale des Huissiers de Justice, 15 rue de Douai, à Paris, represents the profession to the public services.

Each Department of France has a departmental chamber, and each Court of Appeal has a regional chamber.

Which bodies deal with:

  • education/training: The body in charge of training is called the “Department Formation des Stagiaires” prepares trainees to the professional examination. The body in charge of continuing education is called the “Institut de Formation Continue des Huissiers de Justice”.
  • conduct (ethical rules-discipline). Matters of conduct are dealt with by the Departmental Chambers, subject to approval by the Minister of Justice. Matters of discipline are also dealt with by the Departmental Chamber.

There is also:

  • Département Formation des Stagiaires.
  • Institut de Formation Continue des Huissiers de Justice.

Relevant Legislation

Author: J Lonbay (A), 2008

Other Legal Professionals


There is an entry about lawyers in France in this European legal encyclopedia. Information about lawyers in Europe countries is provided here.


There is an entry about notaries in France in this European legal encyclopedia. Information about notaries in Europe is provided here.

Bailiffs in some other European Countries

Leave a Comment