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Last update: 04-11-2009
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Bringing a case to court - Community law

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The European Union wants to make it easier to bring a case to court

The ways in which cases are brought to court vary widely throughout Europe. Besides the differences between Member States, variations exist within Member States and from one type of court to another, depending on the type and circumstances of the application.

The European Union wishes to set up a genuine area of justice. The goal is that it should be possible for European citizens to bring a case before the courts in another Member State as easily as in their own country.

In 1999, the European Council emphasised the importance of easy access to justice. It also stipulated that common minimum standards should be set for multilingual forms or documents to be used in cross-border court cases throughout the Union.

Recently, two Regulations have been adopted in order to facilitate cross-border procedures:

  • Regulation No 1896/2006 of 12 December 2006, creating a European order for payment procedure.

    The new uniform European procedure that is available both for cross-border and domestic litigation, is based on the use of user-friendly standard forms for the statements of the parties and the court decisions. The applicant is required to clearly identify the claim in question and to briefly set out the reasons underlying it. If the relevant requirements are met, the competent court issues a payment notification without having to examine the merits of the claim. Where the debtor has not submitted a statement of defence within 30 days of service of the notification on him, an enforceable order for payment is delivered.

  • Regulation No 861/2007 11 July 2007, establishing a European Small Claims Procedure.

    The aim of the regulation is to simplify, speed up and reduce the costs of litigation concerning claims of under 2000€ by establishing a European Small Claims Procedure to be available to litigants as an alternative to the procedures existing under the laws of the Member States which will remain unaffected.

These two Regulations apply respectively since 12th of December 2008 and since 1st of January 2009 .

The standard forms, as set up by these Regulations, are available on the website of the European Judicial Atlas.

Referral of cases to the European Court of Justice

The European Court of Justice has its own rules on the referral of cases.

As a general rule, only Member States, the institutions of the European Union and national courts can refer cases to the Court of Justice. In some circumstances, a firm or a private individual can bring a case before the Court. This is the case for appeals to the Court regarding decisions taken by the institutions of the European Union in the field of competition, Community grants, contracts with European Union institutions or the European public service. The rules of procedure can be consulted on the website of the Court of Justice of the European Communities.

Reference documents

  • Regulation No 861/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 establishing a European Small Claims Procedure
  • Regulation No 1896/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 creating a European order for payment procedure
  • Green Paper on a European order for payment procedure and on measures to simplify and speed up small claims litigation

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Last update: 04-11-2009

 
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