Some time ago, EU legislation created a European Small Claims Procedure. This created a method by which parties in different EU member states could bring a straightforward, paper-based action against each other, giving a judgment which would be enforceable in any relevant member state of the EU – without having to go through a further procedure to get the judgment recognised as enforceable, or to obtain a European Enforcement Order.
There were, however, significant limitations on the use of this procedure, since it only applied to claims for sums of €2,000 or less. On 4 December 2015, however, this limit was increased to €5,000, and the Justice and Home Affairs Council continue to keep the matter under review, which may result in a further increase in the limit in 5 years’ time.
This increase is likely to make the procedure much more useful for litigants facing a cross-border element in their claim in Europe, particularly given that the court fees will be the same as those when issuing a claim without the cross-border complications.
There are other mechanisms available to litigants when they are owed monies by a party in another European state, such as obtaining a judgment here in the UK, and subsequently obtaining a European Enforcement Order, to allow enforcement proceedings to be commenced against assets in another country. Alternatively, for uncontested debts, there is the possibility of starting the European Order for Payment proceedings, which effectively results in a judgment being granted in such a way as to ensure that it is immediately enforceable in all relevant European member states.
The recent amendments to these cross border procedures now makes it easier, in circumstances where a European Order for Payment application has in fact been contested, for the claimed debt to fall within the European Small Claims Procedure, rather than the application failing completely.
If you would like to discuss any of these procedures in more detail, or think that you have a case where a European Order might be appropriate, please contact Keith Jones.