European small claims procedure — rules governing cross-border legal disputes
Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 establishing a European Small Claims Procedure
WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE REGULATION?
The regulation creates a simplified and fast-track written procedure for handling cases involving small cross-border* claims. This reduces costs and guarantees that judgments delivered in one EU country are automatically enforced in another.
Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 was further improved and modernised by Regulation (EU) 2015/2421 which updated also the rules for the European order for payment procedure (first introduced under Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006).
applies to cross-border civil and commercial cases for claims up to €5,000;
does not apply to:
- an individual’s status or legal capacity;
- matrimonial or partnership property rights;
- family maintenance obligations;
- wills and succession;
- social security;
- employment law;
- property tenancies;
- violations of privacy or personality rights, including defamation.
The procedure states:
complainants begin the written procedure by sending a completed standard claim form A (Annex I), including any relevant documentation, to the court or tribunal which will handle the case;
- ask for additional information, clarifications or corrections to the original submission, using standard form B (Annex II);
- dismiss applications which are inadmissible or where the applicant fails to provide the additional information within the specified deadline;
- agree to hold an oral hearing if they consider it impossible to give a judgment on the written evidence alone;
courts proceed with the case by sending the defendant the claim and a standard answer form C (Annex III) within 14 days from the receipt of the duly completed form;
- have 30 days to reply to the court. Their response is sent to the claimant within 14 days;
- may reply that the value of the non-monetary claim exceeds the €5,000 ceiling. The court decides whether that is true. If not, the case continues. If so, it is handed to the country’s relevant legal system;
courts give a judgment within 30 days of receiving the defendant’s or claimant’s reply, unless they:
- demand further details from the parties concerned;
- take evidence in the simplest and least burdensome way;
- organise an oral hearing, using distance communication technology, such as video or teleconferences where possible, although individuals may request to be physically present;
documents and judgments are delivered by post or electronically, and their receipt acknowledged;
official forms must be in a language used by the court and other documents may need to be translated;
procedural law of the EU country in which the case is heard applies.
Court fees must:
not be disproportionate and no higher than those of national simplified court procedures;
allow parties, particularly those in another EU country, to use distant forms of payment, such as bank transfer, credit or debit card or direct from a bank account.
Costs are paid by the loser of the case and are not awarded to the winner if incurred unnecessarily or are disproportionate to the claim.
Appeal against the judgment is possible, if so provided by the national law of the court.
Review of the judgment:
is possible if the defendant:
- did not receive the claim form or summons to an oral hearing in sufficient time to prepare their defence;
- was prevented from contesting the claim due to force majeure (or extraordinary circumstances) through no fault of their own;
- applies for a review within 30 days of the judgment;
may be accepted by the court, in which case the judgment is null and void, or rejected and the judgment stands.
- enforceable in any another EU country;
- must be accompanied by a certificate, standard form D (Annex IV), in the relevant EU language, delivered at no cost, if one of the parties so wishes;
are refused in the enforcing jurisdiction, after a request from the losing party, if they are incompatible with an earlier ruling in either an EU or non-EU country, provided this:
- involved the same action and parties;
- was given in the enforcing EU country or legally recognised as such;
- the incompatibility was not, and could not have been, raised as an objection in the other country’s court proceedings;
may, after a challenge or review application by one of the parties, lead a court in the enforcing jurisdiction to:
- limit the enforcement proceedings to protective measures;
- make enforcement conditional;
- stay, in exceptional circumstances, the proceedings completely.
Enforcement of judgments is governed by the law of the enforcing country.
make the standard claim form A available in all courts and tribunals applying the European small claims procedure;
provide free assistance to fill in the forms and general information;
are not required to provide legal aid or assistance in a specific case;
inform the European Commission whether an appeal is possible under their national law — information the Commission makes public;
use the European Judicial Network in Civil and Commercial Matters to inform the general public and professionals.
FROM WHEN DO THE REGULATIONS APPLY?
Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 has applied since 1 January 2009, apart from the rules requiring EU countries to inform the Commission on aspects of jurisdiction, means of communication and appeals (Article 25) which have applied since 1 January 2008.
Amending Regulation (EU) 2015/2421 has applied since 14 July 2017 with the exception of point (16) of Article 1, amending Article 25 of Regulation (EC) No 861/2007, which has applied since 14 January 2017.
Cross-border: at least one of the parties is domiciled or resident in an EU country other than the country where the court or tribunal judging the case is based.
Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 establishing a European Small Claims Procedure (OJ L 199, 31.7.2007, pp. 1-22)
Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 creating a European order for payment procedure (OJ L 399, 30.12.2006, pp. 1-32)
See consolidated version.
last update 05.05.2020