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European small claims procedure: An opportunity for enhancing cross-border enforcement

Legislatures in some EU Member States (MS) have introduced special, simplified and accelerated tracks for small claims in legally uncomplicated cases. Those procedures vary both as regards the threshold and level of simplification.

The Treaty of Amsterdam gave the EU powers to harmonise civil procedure. As part of that mandate, the EU has adopted a number of coordination instruments (regulating conflicts of jurisdiction and mutual recognition) and created two autonomous EU civil procedures, including the European Small Claims Procedure (ESCP).

© Gina Sanders / Fotolia

The ESCP is a simplified and accelerated civil procedure, available only in cross-border cases for claims up to 2 000 EUR. It is an optional procedure and does not replace similar national procedures.

Recent reports indicate that in practice the ESCP has not (yet) been a major success with very few cases being brought. The main reasons seem to be a lack of awareness, translation costs and also an uneasy interplay between the ESCP and the remaining rules of national civil procedures.

In order to remedy this situation, a number of proposals to amend the ESCP regulation have been made. A European Commission report on its functioning is due in January 2014.

Read the whole briefing here

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