Enforcement of EU fines
In February 2005, the European Union adopted the Council Framework Decision 2005/214/JHA on the application of the principle of mutual recognition of financial penalties, i.e. the ‘Framework Decision’, in which the EU Member States agree on cooperation for the enforcement of fines.
Based on the Framework Decision and its implementation law, a financial penalty imposed in another EU Member State can be collected in Finland. Correspondingly, financial penalties imposed in Finland can be transmitted for execution in another Member State. According to the Framework Decision, a Member State (the issuing State) can transmit a decision requiring the payment of a financial penalty to the competent authority in the Member State (executing State) in which the natural or legal person against whom a decision has been passed has property or income, is normally resident or, in the case of a legal person, has its registered seat.
A financial penalty means fines, fixed fines and the costs of court or administrative proceedings leading to the decision, such as the costs of evidence and the costs of examination for intoxicants. A financial penalty may also mean a sum of money to a public fund or a victim support organisation, imposed in the same decision.
When a Member State transmits a decision regarding a financial penalty for execution by another Member State, it must enclose to the decision a certificate. The provisions on the certificate are given in the Framework Decision’s Annex. The certificate contains information such as the nature of the financial penalty, its grounds and the related procedure in the issuing State. The certificate is issued on a standard form that shows whether the financial penalty has been imposed on the grounds of ‘a listed offence’, or whether the executing State may consider the offence or wrongdoing to constitute an offence under the law of the executing State. If the case referred to in the application for execution is a listed offence, it requires recognition and execution of the decision without investigating whether the act is a punishable offence in Finland.
Was a fine issued to you in another EU Member State?
If you have questions concerning the fine, you should contact the party who issued the fine. Another EU Member State may request execution of a fine in Finland if it is not paid in the other Member State. If a fine issued in another EU Member State is sent to Finland for collection, Legal Register Centre will send you the decision on the case by post.
Procedure for the recognition and execution of EU fines in Finland
In Finland, Legal Register Centre is the competent authority for the cooperation referred to in the Framework Decision. Legal Register Centre receives the requests for execution from other Member States and transmits requests to them. In Finland, the execution of EU fines is subject to the same procedure as the enforcement of Finnish fines, given in the Act on the Enforcement of Fines. However, alternative penalties are not enforced in Finland. For example, a fine that has been issued in another Member State but has not been paid will not be converted to imprisonment in Finland.
After Legal Register Centre has decided to recognise and execute a financial penalty given in an execution request, it will send an advice of receipt to the debtor living in Finland. The advice includes the decision regarding the recognition and execution, the instructions for appeal and a demand for payment. Having been served notice of Legal Register Centre’s decision, the party liable to pay may lodge an appeal against the decision by Legal Register Centre within 30 days. The appeals are processed by Pirkanmaa District Court.
You may be given more time to pay (payment time), just as with Finnish fines. Legal Register Centre will send you a demand for payment. If you do not use it to pay the fine and you are not granted respite for payment, we will move your case to enforced collection.
When can Legal Register Centre refuse execution?
Legal Register Centre has limited rights to refuse the recognition and execution of a decision transmitted by another Member State. According to the Framework Decision, all grounds for refusal are discretionary. In other words, the competent authority of the executing State may refuse to recognise and execute a decision if applicable grounds are found. For example, a competent authority may refuse execution if the certificate delivered with the decision is incomplete or manifestly does not correspond to the decision.
However, the Finnish implementing law includes provisions on unconditional grounds for refusal. According to the implementation law, execution must be unconditionally refused, if the decision has been imposed on a person who had not reached 15 years of age at the time of committing the act referred to in the decision. In addition, execution can be refused when there are reasons to believe, on the basis of objective elements, that the financial penalty has the purpose of punishing a person on the grounds of his or her sex, race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality, language, political opinions or sexual orientation, or that a person’s position may be prejudiced for any of these reasons.