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European Small Claims Procedure

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About the European Small Claims Procedure

If you cannot resolve your issue with a business directly or through mediation, you can make a claim using the European Small Claims Procedure.

This is a simplified court procedure that can be used for cross-border disputes with a trader based in another country in the EU. The claim cannot be more than €5,000.

How to use the European Small Claims Procedure

The European Small Claims Procedure allows you to present a conflict with a business to a judge without the need for legal representation. It is faster and simpler than the standard procedure.

The European Small Claims Procedure provides an efficient form of litigation that is generally less complicated and costly than regular proceedings. It benefits you if you want a judge to settle your conflict with a business in a timely and binding manner. Another advantage is that you are not required to be represented by a lawyer or any other legal professional, and the competent court will not request a legal assessment from you.

You can use the European Small Claims Procedure to settle cross-border cases relating to civil and commercial matters. However, you should keep in mind only conflicts whose value does not exceed €5,000 can be settled using this procedure. The exact value of your claim is determined when the court receives your claim form.

You will have to pay court fees. The amount varies by member state, as each has its own regulations. After the court fees are paid, the court will start working on your case. Please be aware that the unsuccessful party will have to bear the costs of the proceedings. If you win the case, you will be reimbursed for the court fees you paid as long as the seller is solvent.

You will need to fill out a standard Claim Form A. The form is available in all official languages of the European Union except Irish. You will have to submit all documents in (one of) the language(s) of the competent court.  If there is evidence supporting your claim, or you are in possession of any supporting documents, you should lodge them with the court along with the standard claim form.

The procedure takes place entirely in writing, unless the court believes a hearing is needed. You do not need the assistance of a lawyer.

Once the court receives your claim form, they will fill out Part 1 of Standard Reply Form C. This will be sent to the defendant (the business) along with a copy of your claim form. They will do so within 14 days of receiving your form.

The business must reply within 30 days of receiving the court’s message. They do so by filling out Part 2 of Standard Answer Form C and sending this to the court. You will receive a copy of this form within 14 days of the court receiving this document.

Within 30 days of receiving the answer from the business, the court will usually rule on your claim. The judge may ask for additional information from you or the business. A representative from the business and you may also be called in for an oral hearing. The hearing can take place through phone or video.

The court submits its ruling to the business and to you. Both the business and you may request a certificate of the ruling from the court. This is Form D. The ruling can then be executed in any other EU nation without any further measures.

All member states (except Denmark) recognise a judgement given under the European Small Claims Procedure and will therefore enable you to enforce it. A judgement is enforceable even if the member state’s national law provides an appeal. If you need to have the judgement enforced in another member state, its national legal provisions will apply to the enforcement procedure.

If a court in another EU country is tasked with the enforcement of the judgement, it cannot refuse to do so based on the judgement’s substance. But it may only double-check if there are any formal hindrances to enforcing it — e.g. the existence of a previous dissenting judgement involving the same cause and the same parties. The party against whom enforcement is sought can however request the court in his own member state to limit enforcement if the judgement can still be challenged/appealed.