EU Regulation no. 861/2007 established a “Small Claims Procedure” which is applicable in all EU Member States except Denmark. The European Small Claims Procedure intends “to improve access to justice by simplifying cross-border small claims litigation in civil and commercial matters (thefts, debt collection, etc., e.n.) and reducing costs. “Small claims” are cases concerning sums under EUR 2,000 (…). Judgments delivered under this procedure are recognized and enforceable in the other Member States without the need for a declaration of enforceability. The procedure is (…) an alternative to the possibilities existing under the national laws of the Member States” (http://europa.eu/). The assistance of a lawyer is not required, and (so) the (low) costs of the proceedings are borne by the unsuccessful party, whilst the final judgment is generally issued within 120/150 days from the date of claim.
European Small Claims Procedure
The “European Small Claims Procedure” (Regulation no. 861/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council, dated July 11, 2007) can be applied in cases of cross-border litigation with reference to civil and commercial matters (thefts, debt collection, etc.), provided the value of the claim does not exceed € 2,000 at the time when the claim form is received by the court, excluding all interest, expenses, and disbursements. It is applicable (from January 1, 2009) in all EU Member States (except for Denmark) as an alternative to national procedures established by each Member State, and does not require the assistance of a lawyer. Furthermore, the court or tribunal shall not require the parties to make any legal assessment of the claim, and shall seek to reach a settlement between the parties (when possible).
At least one of the parties must be domiciled or habitually resident in a Member State other than the Member State of the court where the action is brought. Domicile is determined in accordance with Articles 59 and 60 of EC Regulation No 44/2001.
European Small Claims Procedure does not apply to:
customs or administrative matters;
to the liability of the State for acts and omissions in the exercise of State authority;
the status or legal capacity of natural persons;
matrimonial regimes, maintenance obligations, wills, and successions;
bankruptcy, compositions and similar proceedings;
tenancies of immovable property, except for monetary claims;
violations of privacy and of rights relating to personality, including defamation.
The claimant can start the procedure by filling in a standard claim form, which can be followed by a request by the Court for possible missing information in the claim, a response by the defendant and a counterclaim by the claimant. The court will hold an oral hearing (via video conference or other communication technology) only if this appears to be necessary or if requested. The claim, the response, any counterclaim, the description of supporting documents, etc. must be submitted in the language, or one of the languages, of the Court.
The final judgment, which is generally issued within 120/150 days from the date of claim, is recognized and enforceable in the other Member States without the need for a declaration of enforceability and without any possibility of opposing its recognition.
At the request of one of the parties, the court shall issue a certificate concerning the judgment in the European Small Claims Procedure.
Any judgment given in the European Small Claims Procedure shall be enforced under the same conditions as a judgment given in the Member State of enforcement. The party seeking enforcement shall produce a copy of the judgment which satisfies the conditions necessary to establish its authenticity, and of the certificate (above) translated by a qualified person into the language, or one of the languages, of the Member State of enforcement. The party shall not be required to have an authorized representative or a postal address in the Member State of enforcement, other than with agents having competence for the enforcement procedure in accordance with the national law of that Member State.
The (low) costs of the proceedings are borne by the unsuccessful party.
Appeals against a judgment given in the European Small Claims Procedure are governed by the national laws of the Member States.
A well-detailed summary of the European Small Claims Procedure can be found here.