Chazai Wamba An Independent Law Firm based in Douala - Cameroon



Judicial officer and enforcement agent

Decree N° 2023/042 of 25 January 2023 on the status and organisation of the profession of judicial officer and enforcement agent

15 February 2023

On 25 January 2023, the President of the Republic of Cameroon adopted in Yaoundé, Decree n° 2023/042 on the status and organisation of the profession of judicial officer and enforcement agent (the « Decree »).

The Decree sets the general rules applicable to the occupation of judicial officer and enforcement agent, then determines the methods of organisation and exercise of this occupation, in conformity with the laws and regulations in force in Cameroon.

The Decree further materializes the will of the State to frame the occupation of judicial officer while bringing innovations on the legal framework reserved for the status of enforcement agent[1] . The Decree abrogates Decree No. 79/448 of 5 November 1979 regulating the functions and setting the status of judicial officers and enforcement agents and its subsequent amending texts, as well as all previous provisions to the contrary[2] .

It enshrines innovations such as :

  • Access to the profession of bailiff from the age of 23, as opposed to the former decree which provided for 25 years of age;
  • The possibility of forming a partnership or SCP (Sociéte Civile Professionnelle)[3];
  • The establishment of a business card[4];
  • Independence of enforcement agents;
  • The protection of the judicial officer’s office[5];
  • In the context of the bailiff’s accounts, the new text provides for the keeping of several general registers according to the matters[6].

As a reminder, the judicial officer is a ministerial and public officer whose missions are to carry out, at the request of the parties, the judge or at the request of the Public Prosecutor, certain acts necessary for the opening and investigation of proceedings; to execute court decisions and any act likely to be enforced; to make statements of facts, summonses, offers, formal notices and extra-judicial summonses; to carry out any act prescribed by law, to execute court orders and to ensure the service of the hearings of the jurisdictions[7].

The exercise of this profession is incompatible with the status of member of the government, any elective office, the status of lawyer, the status of civil servant, any employment in the public service or any other public or private salaried position, any other position as a public or ministerial officer, or any position as director, company administrator, auditor or accounting officer. The judicial officer is subject to rights[8] and obligations[9] which he is obliged to respect on pain of sanctions ranging from a call to order to dismissal.

The judicial officer may now carry out his activities individually or in the form of a SCP. Therefore, the Decree distinguishes between an SCP with a bailiff’s office and an SCP without a bailiff’s office. The former is made up of bailiffs who hold office and who resign from their office in favour of the office assigned to the SCP. The second is made up of bailiffs from the same jurisdiction who keep their offices but share the responsibilities of running their practice[10] . The organisation of the SCP meets criteria that are defined by the Decree[11] .

The judicial officer is identifiable by presentation of a professional card which has a duration of ten (10) years and contains information on his surname, first names and date of birth, his serial number, the date of issue and the signature of the owner.[12]

In addition, the Decree maintains the existence of a professional organisation grouping together all judicial officers practising on the whole of the national territory called the National Chamber of Judicial Officers, to which all judicial officers automatically join after appointment.[13]

As regards the enforcement agent, the Decree gives him the possibility to exercise his functions concurrently with those of the judicial officer. Similarly, the Decree specifies the age limit for the exercise of the profession of enforcement agent. Thus, he will be able to exercise his functions until he is 65 years old, at the end of which he will be retired by order of the Minister of Justice.

However, the enforcement agent may benefit from an automatic extension of two (02) years of activities by necessity of service or on simple request by order of the Minister of Justice[14] .

Some provisions of the former decree have been maintained. They concern in particular the conditions of access to the profession of judicial officer or enforcement agent for judicial officers and agents in office on the date of entry into force of the Decree, for trainees who have passed the final examination but are not yet holders of judicial officer’s office on the date of entry into force of the Decree, as well as for trainees who have taken the oath before the date of entry into force of the Decree.[15]

[1] Articles 7, 69 paragraph 2, 73

[2] Article 74

[3] Article 57 and following

[4] Article 20, 21

[5] Article 17

[6] Article 30 paragraph 1

[7] Article 2 paragraph 1

[8] Articles 12 to 19

[9] Articles 22 to 29

[10] Article 57

[11] Articles 58 to 68

[12] Articles 20, 21

[13] Article 36

[14] Article 73

[15] ibid