European procedures aim to simplify and speed up cross-border cases, as well as make it easier to enforce a claim against a defendant in another EU country. Each of them is an autonomous facultative procedure, i.e. you can choose if you prefer to use a European procedure or the national procedure of your country.
A procedure for each case
The EU has set up two procedures:
- order for payment: covers cross-border monetary claims and uses standard forms. If the payment order issued within this procedure is not opposed by the defendant within prescribed time-limits, it becomes final and can be enforced in each Member State as if it would be an order issued in this Member State. If however the defendant opposes the payment order, the case could only be heard within the relevant national civil proceedings.
- small claims procedures: this is in principle a written procedure for claims of up to EUR 2 000 (excluding interest) and it uses standard forms. It aims to keep the process as short and simple as possible. Under the Small Claims Regulation [227 KB] , the authorities of your EU country are required to give you assistance to help fill in the forms.
Apply for the European Payment Order
To apply for European Order for Payment (EPO), you have to find out the court that is competent for your claim and you must fill in 'Form A' in a language that is used in the court to which you will send it.
You must give the name and address of the parties , explain your case , make clear it is a cross-border claim and describe the evidence which supports the claim.
You must send your application to the competent court, in most cases by registered mail; however some courts accept other forms, like fax or e-mail.
The European Payment Order, step-by-step
The court will examine your application. If you have filled in the form correctly and replied to any requests for further information, the court should issue the EPO within 30 days.
The EPO will now be served on the defendant by the court. He/she has 30 days to lodge a statement of opposition to the EPO. If this happens, the case can be transferred to the normal civil law courts to be dealt with under national law.
If there is no statement of opposition by the defendant, the EPO will become automatically enforceable. The only reason that enforcement in another EU country can be refused is if it is irreconcilable with another judgment, in the other EU country, between the same parties.
If the order became enforceable but the defendant did not pay, you must send a copy of the EPO , and if necessary a translation, to the enforcement authorities of the EU country where you are trying to enforce the claim (where the defendant or his/her assets are).
The European small claims procedures
This procedure offers consumers and small businesses an inexpensive and citizen-friendly solution to settling cross-border payment claims of up to €2,000.
Pursue your claim from home – no need to travel.
- Submit your claim by post or e-mail. The claims procedure is usually carried out entirely in writing using standard forms available online.
- Oral court hearings, if necessary at all, may be by videoconference – and you don't have to be represented by a lawyer.
The legal decisions taken can be enforced in any EU country.
You just send a copy of the decision to the courts in the country or countries concerned.
How to proceed:
Proposed amendment to Small claims procedure:
On 19 November 2013, the Commission adopted a proposal to streamline the small claims procedure and raise the threshold to €10,000.