Small Claims Procedure in Europe
Do you have a business claim of up to €5,000 abroad? Are you concerned the legal procedure will take years? Don't worry! In some cases, the Small Claims Procedure offers the solution. This legal procedure works faster than regular court proceedings. Moreover, it not only saves time, it is also a lot cheaper. With a Small Claims Procedure, your international claim can be collected quickly and cheaply.
What is the European Small Claims Procedure?
The Small Claims Procedure is an effective judicial procedure for international claims up to €5,000. It is a relatively simple procedure that can be used in almost all EU Member States. If both you and your debtor are based in an EU member state, you can use this procedure.As a creditor, you must complete a standard claim form A and send it to the court. The court will deal with your case in writing. A hearing at the court will only take place if the judge deems it necessary.
The processing times for this procedure are very short, so that you can quickly obtain clarity about your debt collection case. Moreover, there are very few costs incurred for this procedure. However, the Small Claims Procedure is only suitable for small claims. Is your claim higher than €5,000? Then this legal procedure cannot be initiated.
Which court deals with the debt collection case?
The form must be sent to the competent court, which will then process the claim. Agreements regarding competent court should have been made during contract negotiations or should be included within your terms and conditions. Has nothing been agreed? In this case, the court in the other party's country is usually competent to deal with the debt collection case. However, this is not always the case. Therefore, always seek the advice of a specialist lawyer to prevent your claim from being sent to a court that is not competent to rule on your payment dispute. If you file your case with the wrong court, you will incur unnecessary delays. First, you will have to wait for the court to pick up your case before they then write to you informing that they cannot judge your collection case. After which, you then need to start the whole process again with the right court. When it comes to debt collection, timing is everything: if you want your money, you need to act immediately for a better chance of successful collection.
“Bierens and its team of international lawyers understand the needs of companies and can adapt to any situation.”
Lea Macedoni / Alessi
How does the European Small Claims Procedure work?
- In order to start a Small Claims Procedure, the claim form A must be filled in. These can be found on the website of the European e-Justice Portal. The form is available in several European languages.
- Once the form has been completed, it must be sent to the competent court together with the accompanying documents. This can be done by post and does not need to be done by a bailiff.
- When the court has received the form, they fill in part 1 of standard answer form C. This will be sent to the other party together with your claim form. The court will do this within 14 days of receiving your form.
- Your counterparty then has 30 days to reply. They can do this by filling out part 2 of standard answer form C and sending it back to the court.
- A copy will be sent to you within 14 days of the court receiving the defence.
- After receiving the debtor's defence, the court has 30 days to respond:
- The judge makes a decision about the claim
- The judge asks for additional information
- The court shall invite both parties to an oral hearing at which the case shall be dealt with verbally.
- If the judge has taken a decision, you will be informed of this as soon as possible. This decision can then be carried out in your debtor's country without further action.
- If your debtor does not comply with the decision of the court, you will be notified of the decision as soon as possible. If so, a bailiff in your debtor's country must be called in to carry out the court's ruling.
Do you need a lawyer for a European Small Claims Procedure?
In a Small Claims Procedure, it is not necessary to call in a lawyer. You can start this procedure without one. However, it is always better to ask for advice from a specialist. The standard claim form that needs completing isn’t straightforward. Without the legal knowledge and experience of a lawyer, there is a good chance that mistakes will be made. The result of this is that the claim is then rejected. And that would be a shame.
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Do you need to translate the claim form?
Are there several countries involved in your debt collection case? Then you will need to have the forms translated. This is because the form must be drawn up in the language of the court in which you file the claim. The costs of this are lower than if you needed to translate a summons. Make sure, however, that the translation is done by a specialist. If the form is not translated properly, it could negatively impact the judge's decision.
European Small Claims Procedure Costs
The costs for the Small Claims Procedure are much lower compared to the cost of regular legal proceedings. The start of legal proceedings is always subject to the payment of court fees. On the website of the Judiciary you can see what fee applies to your case that you need to pay the court. In addition, sometimes costs have to be incurred for the translation of the forms.
If you receive a positive verdict, then you can usually recover (part of) the costs of the proceedings from the other party. Of course, it is important that your opposing party is able to pay these costs.
When should you file a European Small Claims Procedure?
- In the event of international conflicts
- Both parties are based in a European Member State (except Denmark)
- In civil or commercial matters
- For receivables of €5,000 or less
- For undisputed and disputed claims
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“Bierens are specialists in the field of business-to-business debt recovery. Their approach stands for quality, decisiveness, and results, which is exactly what KLM is looking for.”
Ben Blad / KLM
Receivables higher than €5,000?
Is your claim higher than €5,000? Then unfortunately, this procedure cannot be initiated. There are however other possibilities for collecting your claim. For example, the European Order for Payment can be used, but there are also other legal proceedings that we can take against your foreign debtor. Our international lawyers will be happy to tell you more about these possibilities.
Specialists in International Debt Collection
Our 35 international lawyers are specialists in debt collection across Europe. From the moment that you hand your case over to us, we will do our utmost to resolve the matter as soon as possible. Whether this concerns a straightforward debt recovery matter or a complicated legal conflict, we will unburden you.
More information about the European Small Claims Procedure
Would you like more information about this legal procedure? Or do you have other questions about debt collection abroad? Please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to help you.
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