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New simpler and faster small claims rights for consumers and SMEs
A new fast-track procedure to enable consumers and SMEs to settle small claims cheaply, quickly and hassle-free came into force across the EU today (14 July).
The European small claims procedure (ESCP) is for anyone who orders a product online from another EU country who wants a refund because the product fails to meet the advertised description and the trader refuses to pay a refund, or businesses seeking payment for goods from EU customers who refuse to pay. The procedure could also be used to help settle cross-border claims for damages arising from an accident.
The revised rules introduce a new threshold of €5,000 up from €2,000 which will allow more consumers and businesses to solve cross-border problems and enable the use of online procedures and video-conferencing which cut out unnecessary travelling to courts saving time and money.
Andy Allen, service director at the UK-ECC said: "The ESCP is a very useful tool for consumers, both in giving consumers a mechanism to pursue problems they encounter and, by the existence of an easy equivalent to the UK system, in giving them confidence to shop across borders knowing there are such mechanisms if things go wrong. The nature of cross border purchases means that many are of high value and a rise in the threshold to €5,000 makes this already useful tool much more appropriate for the range of issues we see."
The simpler, faster and more user friendly rules update the small claims procedure introduced in 2009 which were responsible for a 50% reduction in the average length of, very often costly, court proceedings to two and a half years.
More information here
The UK European Consumer Centre helps UK consumers who encounter problems with any trader based in Europe to achieve a resolution: a replacement, repair, refund or cancellation of their contract. They also provide online consumer guides covering anything from shopping online to car rentals. Advice and support is available by phone: 01268 886690 lines open between 9am and 5pm, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or via online contact form.