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Health & Consumer Voice - September/October - 2012 Edition

Boosting use of the small claims procedure

small claims procedure

European consumers are missing out on the benefits of the EU’s Small Claims Procedure because it remains relatively unknown and poorly enforced, despite being a quick, easy and efficient way to resolve cross-border disputes.

The Small Claims procedure has been in place since 1 January 2009. It can be used in cross-border disputes over goods and services where the value concerned is less than €2000.

Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli said he was «disappointed to see such a low level of assistance» for consumers who have tried to use the procedure.

According to a recent report by the European Consumer Centres’ Network (ECC-NET), 40% of European consumers who had encountered a problem buying goods or services in the last 12 months had not found a solution. Many national judges are unaware of the procedure and positive rulings are often not enforced in the consumer’s home country.

Next steps

The Commission will:

  • Work with court authorities to promote awareness of the procedure;
  • Issue a guide for consumers and legal practitioners;
  • Make it easier to register a claim by providing forms and information on-line;
  • Work with ECCs to promote the procedure amongst consumers and judges.

Small claims procedure:

  • Free of charge
  • For claims of under €2 000
  • Conducted mostly in writing using pre-defined forms

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