Creditors who are owed small amounts of money by individuals and companies located elsewhere in Europe now have a quicker and easier method for recovering small debts.
If the amount of money owing is €2,000 or less, claimants may use the European Small Claims Procedure, which is suitable for monetary and non-monetary claims. The procedure is not available for certain types of claim, however, including those relating to bankruptcy, employment law, defamation, marital or estate property or social security claims.
Under this streamlined procedure, all parties use the same forms and adhere to the same timescales regardless of where in Europe they are situated. In most cases, there is no need for a hearing but, if necessary, video-link technology can be used. Where judgment is obtained, it is automatically recognised in the European country and there is no requirement to register it before being able to enforce the debt.
The procedure is broadly the same as the domestic small claims procedure. On receipt of the claim, the defendant has thirty days within which to settle the amount or to dispute all or part of the claim. If the claim is disputed, a counter claim is made, or the defendant does not respond, the judge will make a decision within a further thirty days, unless a hearing or more information is required. If further evidence is needed, the court decides how to obtain it in the least onerous way.
Successful claimants obtain a certificate of judgment from the court in order to commence enforcement proceedings. Importantly, the judgment will be recognised not only in the EU country in which the case was decided, but also in all other EU Member States. It is possible for the judgment debtor to appeal the court’s decision, apply for a review, have enforcement action refused or, rarely, to have the enforcement stopped.
Successful claimants are usually entitled to claim their legal costs from the other party.
If someone in Europe or elsewhere in the world owes you money, we can advise you on how to recover the debt.