At present, consumers and small businesses in the EU can use the European small claims procedure to recover sums up to €2,000. The procedure is straightforward, normally carried out in writing, and is enforceable in any EU country. However, many people are unaware of the procedure or feel it is still disproportionately complex and costly for claiming small amounts of money.
Yet – a “small” amount of money may be a big loss to an individual consumer or small business.
On 19 November 2013, the Commission adopted a proposal to amend [link] the existing rules for a European small claims procedure. Planned modifications include:
the limit on claims amounts qualifying for the small claims procedure will be raised from €2,000 to €10,000 – particularly interesting for small business operations.
court fees will be capped at 10% of the claim amount. And you do not need to be represented by a lawyer
the procedure will be carried out exclusively in writing as far as possible, using standard forms available online. Oral court hearings should be held only if absolutely necessary, and then by videoconference. The option of launching the procedure online will be provided and court fees will be payable electronically.
> for consumers: simplified, streamlined procedures to solve problems of cross border shopping: consumers feel more confident and more empowered in the single market because of the legal backstop protecting them in case of problems.
> for small businesses: A more efficient justice system; a simplified procedure for claimants in cross-border disputes. Small businesses can take full advantage of EU-wide market opportunities without fear of disproportionate legal costs.
The current rules for small claims will remain in force until the Commission’s proposed amendment becomes EU law. In the meantime, the existing Regulation already provide a useful remedy for collecting cross-border debts of up to €2,000.
Learn more about the existing European small claims procedure.