French huissiers de justice, or court bailiffs, hold several key responsibilities
Serving court documents, giving notices and summons, enforcing court decisions, handling amicable or court-ordered debt collection, providing official testimony or expertise, and giving legal advice.
Court bailiffs are ministerial officers that hold an office awarded by the State and have the authority to enforce decisions made by public authorities, and hence to draft authentic acts.
Houdart A&C offers tailored chartered accountancy services to meet the needs of court bailiffs. The firm has extensive knowledge of the profession’s particular challenges and requirements, detailed below.
Our services include management of general accounting requirements, as well as the mandatory accounting treatment of specific operations performed by bailiffs, such as sums managed in escrow for third parties and the related fees and disbursements for the court bailiffs themselves.
Ensuring financial balance is vital with regard being able to cover third-party funds. The official regulatory body for court bailiffs, the Chambre régionale des huissiers, verifies account balances and bookkeeping every year. In addition, accounts must be certified by a chartered accountant to ensure compliance with accounting obligations and regulations.
In sector-specific software, accounts are kept based on the “accrual accounting” model. Accounts may be restated when preparing tax returns based on cash flow if the legal form of the business activity requires income to be taxed on non-commercial profits (bénéfices non commerciales, BNC).
Court bailiffs can work as sole traders, in professional partnerships (société civile professionnelle, SCP), or in private practice firms (société d’exercice libérale, SEL, of which there are several forms, including: limited liability [société d’exercice libéral à responsabilité limitée, SELARL], and joint-stock [société d’exercice libéral par actions simplifiée, SELAS]). The law of 6 August 2015 gave court bailiffs the possibility to be partners in a company with financial holdings made up of professionals from one or more sectors (société de participations financières de professions libérales, SPFPL).
This so-called “Macron law”, which aims to promote economic growth, activity and equality, gives people in regulated professions a choice of where they wish to set up shop; a map of areas where their services are thought to be needed is updated every two years. The law also revised the regulated fees that court bailiffs charge their clients, and modified business activities that court bailiffs can carry out, beginning the merger with the profession of judicial auctioneer.
If they are self-employed or work as partners in tax-transparent professional partnerships (société civile professionnelle, SCP), court bailiffs’ income is taxed on non-commercial profits (bénéfices non commerciales, BNC). Private practice firms (société d’exercice libérale, SEL) are subject to corporate income tax. Individually-run limited liability private practice firms [société d’exercice libéral à responsabilité limitée, SELARL] are the only exception to this rule, although they can opt to pay corporate income tax as well.All services that court bailiffs carry out as State appointees are subject to a flat-rate tax regime. Exemptions apply for acts drafted for someone who benefits from full or partial legal aid, or acts drafted for the French Public Finances Directorate General (DGFiP), French Social Security or other designated establishments. Such tax exemptions are clearly set forth in legal texts.
Court bailiff standard services are also subject to VAT. It also applies in the event of services outside the realm of their designated activities (property manager, go-between for real estate transactions).
The Chambre Nationale des Huissiers de Justice represents the interests of court bailiffs in negotiations with public authorities. It is made up of 35 court bailiffs who are elected for six-year terms and who elect their board and president.
It oversees training and certification and provides assistance to court bailiffs’ firms via different operating funds: Service Caisse de Prêts, Services de Compensation des Transports (SCT) and Caisse de Garantie.
The board of the Chambre Nationale des Huissiers de Justice is responsible for drafting and submitting proposals to the French Chancellery regarding changes to laws and decrees that concern the profession.
Finally, it investigates professional legal disputes and policy changes pertaining to the internal bylaws of regional and departmental representative bodies.