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Transmission of judicial and extrajudicial documents between EU countries

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Transmission of judicial and extrajudicial documents between EU countries

 

SUMMARY OF:

Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 on the service in EU countries of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THIS REGULATION?

It aims to put in place a fast, secure and standardised transmission procedure for judicial* and extrajudicial documents* in civil or commercial matters between parties located in different European Union (EU) countries.

KEY POINTS

Scope

  • This regulation applies to civil or commercial matters where it is necessary to transmit judicial or extrajudicial documents for transmission from one EU country to another.
  • It does not apply to:
    • revenue,
    • customs,
    • administrative affairs or
    • cases of state liability for actions or omissions in the exercise of state authority.
  • The regulation does not apply where the address of the person to be served is unknown.

Further improving the service (transmission) of judicial and extrajudicial documents

The regulation, which replaces Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000 introduces:

  • a rule stipulating that the receiving agency has to take all necessary steps to transmit the document as soon as possible, and in any event within 1 month of receipt;
  • a standard form to inform the addressee of their right to refuse to accept the document to be served — at the time that it has been served — or by returning the document to the receiving agency within a week;
  • a rule stipulating that costs which arise from recourse to a judicial officer or to a person competent under the law of the EU country addressed must correspond to a single fixed fee laid down by that country in advance, respecting the principles of proportionality and non-discrimination;
  • uniform conditions for service by postal services (registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or equivalent).

Agencies within EU countries ensure transmission

  • EU countries designate the agencies that are responsible for transmitting and receiving documents. They must provide the European Commission with their names and addresses, the geographical areas to which they apply, and their accepted languages and means of receipt of documents.
  • Each EU country also has a central body that is responsible for supplying information to the agencies, resolving any difficulties that may arise and forwarding requests for service by the transmitting agency to the relevant receiving agency in exceptional circumstances.
  • A federal state, one where there are several legal systems or which has autonomous territorial units, may name more than one such agency or central body. The designation is valid 5 years and maybe be renewed at 5-year intervals.

Speeding up the serving of judicial and extrajudicial documents

  • The applicant forwards documents to the transmitting agency and bears any costs of translation prior to transmitting the document. The transmitting agency is required to advise the applicant that, in the event that the document is not in a language which the addressee understands or in the official language of the EU country where service is to be effected, the latter can refuse to accept the document.
  • Documents must be transmitted directly and as soon as possible between the agencies by any appropriate means of transmission, as long as they are legible and faithful to the original. A request using the standard form as annexed to the regulation must be attached in one of the accepted languages that the EU countries indicate. The documents are exempt from legalisation or any equivalent formality. A receipt must be sent within 7 days by the receiving agency. The latter has to contact the transmitting agency as soon as possible in case of missing information.

Serving documents according to the law of the receiving EU country within 1 month

  • The receiving agency should either serve the document itself or have it served within 1 month. If this is not possible, the receiving agency must inform the transmitting agency and continue to try to serve the document. Serving is done according to the law of the receiving EU country, or by a particular method, if this is requested by the transmitting agency and it conforms to the national law. When service has been carried out, a certificate of completion of the formalities involved must be completed in a language accepted by the EU country of origin and sent to the transmitting agency.
  • The date of service will be the date on which the document is served, according to the law of the EU country addressed, except where it must be addressed within a particular period according to the law of that country. The service must not incur costs or taxes in the EU country addressed, except if there has been a particular method of service or recourse to a judicial officer there. In that case, it is up to the applicant to bear the costs. EU countries have to fix a single fee in advance, and communicate it to the Commission.
  • Documents may also be served directly by using registered post with a receipt or via the judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the EU country addressed, if this is permitted by the country in question. In exceptional circumstances, documents may be forwarded to agencies of another EU country via consular or diplomatic channels.

Informing the addressee about the right to refuse the document to be served

  • The receiving agency informs the addressee of their right to refuse the document, if it is not written in a language that he or she understands or in the official language of the EU country where service takes place. The refusal must take place at the time of service or by returning the document to the receiving agency within a week.
  • If the document is a writ of summons (an official order for someone to appear in a court of law) or equivalent and the defendant does not appear, a judgment may not be pronounced until it is sure that the document was served according to the EU country’s domestic law, it was delivered and the defendant had sufficient time to submit a defence. However, judgment may be delivered if the document was transmitted by one of the methods laid down in the regulation, and if more than 6 months have elapsed and no certificate of any kind has been obtained in spite of every reasonable effort by the competent authorities of the EU country addressed. If the defendant did not know about the document in time to appear, it is still possible to apply for relief within a reasonable time after finding out about the judgment.
  • The Commission should provide and regularly update a manual containing the information provided by the EU countries. By 2011, and every 5 years subsequently, it must present a report on the regulation’s application, focusing on the agencies’ effectiveness.

FROM WHEN DOES THE REGULATION APPLY?

It has applied since 13 November 2008, except for Article 23 (on EU countries’ communication and publication of certain information) which has applied since 13 August 2008.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see:

* KEY TERMS

Judicial document: a legal document issued in the course of a civil or commercial lawsuit (for example a summons, a writ or a judgment) that must be served on a party).

Extrajudicial document: a legal document that is served but is outside the case file (for example, an invoice or an eviction notice).

MAIN DOCUMENT

Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2007 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters (service of documents), and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000 (OJ L 324, 10.12.2007, pp. 79-120)

Successive amendments to Council Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

last update 16.08.2016

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