The European Small Claims procedure is designed to simplify and speed up cross-border claims of up to €5000.
The European Small Claims Procedure is available to litigants as an alternative to the procedures existing under the laws of the Member States. A judgment given in the European Small Claims Procedure is recognized and enforceable in another Member State without the need for a declaration of enforceability and without any possibility of opposing its recognition.
Standard forms have been drawn up for the Small Claims procedure and are available here in all languages. To start the procedure, "Form A" must be filled in. Any relevant supporting documents, such as receipts, invoices, etc. should be attached to the form.
Form A must be sent to the court that has the jurisdiction. Once the court receives the application form it must fill in its part of the "Answer Form". Within 14 days of receiving the application form, the court should serve a copy of it, along with the Answer Form, on the defendant. The defendant has 30 days to reply, by filling in his or her part of the Answer Form. The court must send a copy of any reply to the plaintiff within 14 days.
Within 30 days of receiving the defendant's answer (if any) the court must either give a judgment on the small claim, or request further details in writing from either party, or summon the parties to an oral hearing. If there is an oral hearing, it is not necessary to be represented by a lawyer and if the court has appropriate equipment the hearing should be carried out through videoconference or teleconference.
With the certificate issued by the court (which might need to be translated into the language of the other Member State), and a copy of the judgment, the judgment is enforceable in all the other Member States of the European Union, without any further formalities. The only reason that enforcement in another Member State can be refused is if it is irreconcilable with another judgment in the other Member State between the same parties. Enforcement takes place in accordance with the national rules and procedures of the Member State where the judgment is being enforced.
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