Small cross-border claims now easier to collect
18. June 2007
The Council of Europe
has adopted a new regulation establishing a European small claims procedure. This means that submitting cross-border claims of up to EUR 2000 will be much easier in future.
According to Karin Rammo, Advisor of the Private Law Division of the Ministry of Justice, a claim is a cross-border claim of the debtor and creditor situated in different EU Member States at the time of commencement of the procedure. “The regulation establishes a common procedure applicable in the courts of all EU Member States except Denmark.”
“So far, the main problems with international procedures have been the disproportionately large procedural costs and red tape caused by the differences in judicial systems. The small claims procedure gives EU citizens and businesses a simplified procedure, under which cross-border claims of up to EUR 2000 can be settled easier, quicker, and with lower costs,” said Rammo.
“However, it should be kept in mind that the procedure does not apply to domestic proceedings where both the plaintiff and claimant are situated in the same Member State, nor to relations with Denmark, which as a rule does not participate in EU cross-border civil cooperation. Secondly, it should be noted that people will always be able to choose whether to use the ordinary civil proceedings or let their disputes be settled under the rules of the aforementioned regulation,” said Rammo.
The most important advantage of the new small claims procedure for the creditor, in addition to simplified procedural rules, is the fact that the judgement made as a result of the procedure can be automatically enforced in another Member State. The judgement is approved in the Member State that made the judgment, and it can be submitted for enforcement to the competent body in any EU Member State (except Denmark) without going to a court of the Member State of enforcement to declare the judgment enforceable. So far, such a privilege was available only to default judgements made in proceedings corresponding to the minimum standards, or judgements based on the admission of a claim under the European enforcement order regulation.
“This regulation is structured logically and clearly and should enable the procedure to be used without professional legal assistance. All of the steps of the procedure beginning from the submission of the claim are facilitated by the standard forms supplied in the annex to the regulation together with instructions on how to fill them in,” Rammo added.
A judgement made in a small claims procedure can be contested according to the legal provisions applicable in the Member State where the court that made the judgement is located. The regulation does not apply to labour disputes, marital property disputes or inheritance and maintenance disputes.
The regulation is applicable from 1 January 2009.
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