European Small Claims Procedure
Going to court should always be the last resort and every effort should be made in trying to resolve a complaint in an out-of-court manner. However, if all attempts to resolve your complaint with a trader in another European country have failed, and the European Consumer Centre is unable to obtain a successful resolution, or the matter is outside our remit, you may wish to consider taking an action under the European Small Claims Procedure.
The European Small Claims Procedure provides consumers and businesses all over Europe with a uniform and inexpensive debt recovery process for low value claims in cross-border cases without the need to be legally represented. The procedure applies in civil and commercial matters where the value of a claim does not exceed €5,000. The procedure is a written one. It introduces standard forms to be used by the parties and the court across the EU and establishes time limits for the parties and for the court in order to speed-up litigation concerning small claims. The application form itself contains detailed guidance notes to assist you in completing it.
In Ireland the service is provided through the District Court by the District Court Clerk, called the Small Claims Registrar. A court fee is currently €25. Further information on the European Small Claims Procedure and the relevant forms can be obtained from the Courts Service website www.courts.ie or at your local District Court.
The European Commission has prepared a guide to assist citizens who are considering taking a cross-border legal action. This Guide aims to explain the various procedures available and the principles behind them, to help you choose which one would be most suitable for your particular dispute.