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Last update: 04-11-2009
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Simplified and accelerated procedures - General Information

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Specific procedures may help you in order to obtain a judgment more easily and faster

If you initiate legal proceedings, the court which decides your case will follow a whole set of rules. These rules are designed to ensure that each party has equal opportunities to present its case to the court and to make sure that the judge applies the principle of a fair trial in his decisions. Most Member States have, however, introduced simplified and accelerated procedures in which these rules are relaxed in two main instances: firstly, when the claim is not contested by the defendant (e.g. the so-called “Order for payment” procedures), and secondly, when the value of the claim is below a certain threshold (so-called “Small Claims” procedures).

The simplification of rules concern all phases of a procedure, e.g. the rules which lay down the form by which a claim can be introduced, or on whether or not you need to employ a lawyer. Also rules concerning the time frame in which the parties can present their arguments, concerning the necessity of a hearing or on how evidence is to be taken are simplified. This is also the case for rules with respect to a possible conciliation, the question of which party has to pay the costs of the proceedings after the judgment has been given, and of whether there is a possibility to appeal against the judgment.

All Member States try to tackle the issue of accelerated recovery of uncontested claims. In some of them, judgments by default are the principal procedural instruments to cope with uncontested claims. The majority of Member States have, however, introduced a so-called “Order for payment” procedure that has proven to be a particularly valuable tool to ensure the rapid and cost-effective collection of claims that are not the subject of any controversy. In this purely written procedure a payment order is served on the defendant with an instruction to abide by it or to contest the claim within a certain time limit. Only if he lodges a statement of opposition will the case be transferred to ordinary civil proceedings. Hence, as opposed to normal procedural rules, the burden to initiate adversarial proceedings rests with the addressee of the payment order.

There are also specific “Small Claims” procedures in some Member States which provide for various simplifications with respect to the ordinary procedure, and this has been followed at the European level by Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 establishing a European Small Claims Procedure.

This gives citizens and businesses all over Europe a speedy and affordable civil procedure for claims of under 2000€, which is uniform in all Member States and in all procedural steps from the commencement of the procedure to the final enforcement of the judgement.

The rules concerning the taking of evidence are relaxed, and sometimes there is the possibility of a purely written procedure. Also the possibility to appeal against the judgment is excluded or restricted.

Click on the flag of each Member State and you will find information on the simplified and accelerated procedures in that country.

To find out more about legislation on the level of the European Community, click on the "Community law" icon.

To find out more about international law on simplified and accelerated procedures, click on the "International law" icon.


Last update: 04-11-2009

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