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authority. The enforcement process is regulated generally by the Execution Law11,
enacted in 1967, which replaced the Ottoman Temporary Law on Enforcement and
by the English Ordinance to Amend the Law with Regard to Imprisonment for
Debt. As in most legal systems, the enforcement process in Israel begins with the
opening of a file in the Execution Office. Certain types of debts are outside the
sphere of the enforcement office, such as taxes, which have their own track for
enforcement, which is described in Tax (Collection) Ordinance12. Taxes are
included in the bankruptcy procedure.
The enforcement proceedings pertains to any debt expressed in a legally
binding document, referred to by law as a "title of enforcement”. In Israel, there are
various types of titles of enforcement, including judgments (in civil, labor, or
family matters), pledges, bills of exchange, as well as private documents of up to
NIS 50,000 which were recently added to this category.
The Israeli Execution Office or the administrative authority have broad powers
to enforce judgments, including the ability to issue an order of imprisonment
against a judgment debtor that has not paid his judgment debt. If a defendant fails
to comply with an injunction or order for specific performance, the plaintiff can
request that the Court initiate contempt proceedings against the defendant
pursuant to the Contempt of Court Ordinance. In contempt proceedings, the Court
may impose sanctions on the defendant until he complies with the judgment. Such
sanctions include daily fines or imprisonment.
According to the Execution Law of Israel, a magistrate court judge is
responsible for the Chief Enforcement Officer (CHEO) – a part of Execution Office.
A belief gaining much popularity in Israel is that the system can be made more
efficient, and can provide better solutions for creditors, by defining the function of
the CHEO as solely administrative. As a result, the CHEO deals not only with
enforcement measures with respect to the property of the debtor (i.e. direct
enforcement), but also against the debtor himself (indirect enforcement). As a
result, the CHEO actually fulfills three functions: in addition to being judge of
enforcement (his natural function), he is also judge of contempt and judge of
insolvency (without being a judge of bankruptcy).
It is only within the framework of direct enforcement that the CHEO assumes
the role of a judge of enforcement, although the majority of activities related to
direct enforcement are not carried out by the CHEO but rather by the Receiver and
the Enforcement Officer. The CHEO has judicial discretion regarding direct
enforcement in two areas: supervision of those who carry out the attachment, and
determination of the scope of exempted property. Concerning most of the tasks
involved with direct enforcement, we can roughly define the CHEO as an
11 The Execution Law, 5727-1967, 21 LSI 112 (1966-67), as amended in 1968.
12 Hukei Eretz Yisrael, ch. 157, at 1374, 1929 see more: P. Lerner, Chief Enforcement Officer and
Insolvency in Israeli Law, Theoretical Inquiries in Law 7.2 (2006), p. 566.