European Small Claims Procedure – Regulation No. 861/2007

The establishment of a simplified, fast, uniform and effective procedure for defence against inexecution of obligations regarding civil and commercial matters is an essential purpose of the adopted by the EU policy for unifying the various national procedures.

Regulation No. 861/2007 poses a part of these efforts and creates the European Small Claims Procedure. The main purpose of the document is to create an accessible procedure which will simplify and simultaneously accelerate the cross-border litigation on small claims and will decrease the costs. The only Member State that does not apply this Regulation is Denmark.

The established with Regulation No. 861/2007 procedure is an alternative of the procedural possibilities, envisaged in the national legislations of the Member States, i.e. the European legislator provides an additional procedural possibility to the parties.

One of the certain advantages of the European Small Claims Procedure is that it is not necessary to carry out proceedings for the recognition and enforcement of a judgment given in other Member States. Another typical characteristic is that the parties are not obliged to be represented by a lawyer or another legal professional.

The European Small Claims Procedure is applicable in cross-border cases, to civil and commercial matters, whatever the nature of the court or tribunal, where the value of the claim does not exceed EUR 2 000. The value and whether there is a cross-border case, is determined on the date of receipt of the relevant form from the court or tribunal with jurisdiction.

The procedure is strictly formal. The compliance with the requirements directly affects the validity of the procedure. A number of standard forms are annexed to Regulation No. 861/2007. These forms objectify every single action of the procedure. All of the documents are drafted in one of the languages of the court or tribunal with jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of the court is determined in compliance with another normative act of the EU – namely, Regulation No. 44/2001 which determines the jurisdiction in different cases. This will be considered in another article. The commencement of the procedure begins when the claimant lodges a standard claim form with the court or tribunal with jurisdiction. The Regulation provides the claimant with the possibility to lodge the form by post, fax or e-mail or other means of communication accessible in the Member State in which the procedure has been commenced.

The Small Claims Procedure is a written procedure. The court or tribunal holds an oral hearing if it considers it to be necessary or if a party requests it.

Within 14 days of receiving the claim form, the latter is sent to the defendant with all of the supporting documents. The defendant is provided with a 30-day period to submit a response. The defendant’s response is materialized in a standardized form. Where necessary – supporting documents are added to this form.

If the court or tribunal has not received a response from the relevant party in the laid time limits, a judgment is given on the claim or the counterclaim.

Within 30 days of receiving a response from the defendant or the claimant, the court or the tribunal gives a judgment or: demands further details concerning the claim from the parties, takes evidence or summons the parties to an oral hearing. The given judgment on the Small Claims Procedure is enforceable notwithstanding any possible appeal. The provision of security is not required.

When the requirements, envisaged in the Regulation, are met, where a party has made a request, the court or tribunal may make the enforcement conditional on the provision of security or, under exceptional circumstances, may stay the enforcement proceedings.

Regulation No. 861/2007 is a legal tool with a wide scope which facilitates the small claims procedures. It also favours the parties on trade or civil relations that have decided to undertake judicial intervention. The document is also an expression of cooperation between the Member States when overcoming the differences in their legal systems in order to facilitate the subjects of private law.