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CEP presents recommendations for consumer protection in enforcement proceedings

18 11 2019

CEP presents recommendations for consumer protection in enforcement proceedings

What is the position of a debtor in enforcement? What do you do once you are served by the Public Enforcement Officer over your utility debt? These are some of the questions that our partners from the Centre for European Policy (CEP) were seeking to answer during the realization of their project „Access to Justice in Enforcement procedure - building a model through a consumer's lens” which we have supported through our grants program.

In the enforcement procedure, the citizens most often find themselves in the position of debtors, the party against which enforcement is conducted. A large number of citizens have found themselves in the situation where an enforcement procedure has been initiated against them on the basis of an authentic document, most often to collect a utility or a similar debt (e.g. an unpaid bill for phone services). If debtors in these cases are individuals or families, the need to implement the Consumer Protection Law also arises. That is why the issue of consumer protection in the context of an enforcement procedure mostly pertains to the rights of a debtor in a utility claim case.

Through project activities over the course of 12 months, CEP achieved the following results:

Research conducted on the topic of ‘Problems and Obstacles for Access to Justice in the Enforcement Procedure through the Consumer Protection Perspective’, with the aim of analyzing the current conditions related to consumer protection in enforcement, identifying key issues and obstacles faced by debtors/consumers, and formulating a more adequate model for an active involvement of consumer and other civil society organizations in protecting citizens’ rights and interests;

A brochure was developed, using simple and understandable language, devoid of legal jargon, to describe consumer protection in the enforcement procedure initiated upon a utility claim;

Three infographics have been designed to present the characteristics of an enforcement procedure in utility cases, as well as the position of debtors in these cases, in a visually effective manner;

A Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between CEP’s partners, the People’s Parliament from Leskovac, and the Nis regional unit of the Chamber of Public Enforcement Officers, on piloting a local mechanism for monitoring the enforcement procedures from the perspective of consumer protection;

Four info days were organized – in Kragujevac, Leskovac, Belgrade, and Novi Sad – for the representatives of local utility enterprises, public enforcement officers, and civil society organizations, to present a model for including consumer and other civil society organizations in monitoring the work of public enforcement officers in utility enforcement cases in order to exercise better consumer rights protection.

A conference was organized today in Belgrade to mark the end of project activities, gathering representatives of several consumer protection associations, the Ministry of Tourism, Trade, and Telecommunications, the Chamber of Public Enforcement Officers, lawyers, and enforcement judges. Conclusions of roundtables held during previous info days were discussed. CEP presented a model according to which the People’s Parliament in Leskovac will cooperate with the Nis regional unit of the Chamber of Public Enforcement Officers and organize consultative meetings every two months to determine whether any problems, or irregularities have been identified in the utility enforcement cases regarding the protection of consumer rights.

Materials developed under the project can be found here:

Analysis: 'Problems and Obstacles for Access to Justice in the Enforcement Procedure through the Consumer Protection Perspective'

Summary

Brochure: Consumer Protection in Utility Enforcement Cases

Infographic – Enforcement procedure and Utility Services

Infographic – Position of the Consumer in Enforcement

Infographic – Specifics of the Utility Claims Enforcement Procedure

Photographs: Center for European Policy and USAID Rule of Law Project

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