Did you know that there is created a special court proceeding to help consumers when all amicable attempts to solve a cross-border dispute have failed?

European Small Claim Procedure

European Small Claims Procedure (ESCP) is a new judicial tool to enforce consumer rights. ESCP could provide supplementary help to consumers when all amicable attempts to solve a dispute have failed. The procedure is regulated by the Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 establishing a European Small Claims Procedure.

What is the European Small Claims Procedure?
It is a proper judicial procedure, carried out in a written way. The European Small Claims Procedure is a simplified procedure aimed at reducing length and cutting costs of judicial proceedings, including costs of legal representation before a court, thus facilitating access to justice for every consumer who might face a cross-border dispute.

The judgment given in a Member State shall be recognized and enforced in other Member States without the need for a declaration of enforceability or any possibility of opposing its recognition.

If you as a consumer need help or advice on how to start the  European Small Claims Procedure, please feel free to contact the European Consumer Centre of Estonia, by e-mailing us: consumer at consumer dot ee.

How the European Small Claims Procedure works?

There are following steps:

A) Filing the claim. To file a claim for a sum less than 2,000 Euros, the claimant fills in a standard claim form (Form A, provided in Annex I to the Regulation), giving details of the claim, the sum demanded, etc., and lodges it with the competent court by any means of communication acceptable to the Member State in which the action is taken.

B) Correcting and/or completing the claim form. If the claimant has not provided enough information, the court will send him a Form B (Annex II) asking for the missing information. The claim will be rejected if the claimant fails to complete or correct the claim in the time specified, or if it is manifestly unfounded or inadmissible.

C) Notifying the defendant. Once the court has received the properly filled in claim form, it prepares a standard answer form (Form C, Annex III). This, together with a copy of the claim and, where applicable, the supporting documents, is served on the defendant by post with dated acknowledgement of receipt within 14 days.

D) The defendant’s response. The defendant then has 30 days to prepare and return his response, counting from the date of service of the answer form.

E) The defendant's response is forwarded to the claimant. Within 14 days of receiving the defendant's response, the court forwards a copy of it to the claimant, with any relevant supporting documents.

F) Any counterclaim submitted by the defendant (using Form A) is served on the claimant in the same way as the original claim was served on the defendant. The claimant has 30 days to respond. If the sum of the counterclaim is more than 2,000 Euros, both claim and counterclaim will be dealt with in accordance with the relevant procedural law applicable in the Member State in which the action is taken (and not in accordance with the European Small Claims Procedure).

G) Judgment is given within 30 days. The court must give judgment within 30 days of receipt of the response from the defendant (or claimant, if there is a counterclaim). It can, however, decide to ask for further information (the parties have 30 days to reply) or to take evidence on the matter or to summon the parties to an oral hearing (within 30 days); in these cases, the court gives its judgment within 30 days of receiving the information or holding the hearing. If the parties do not reply in time, the court will still give its judgment.

H) Taking evidence. The court determines the extent of the evidence necessary for its judgment and the means of taking it, using the simplest and least burdensome method.

I) Judgments are recognized and enforced in the other Member States, and cannot be reviewed by reason of substance in the Member State of enforcement. At the request of one party the court will issue a certificate of judgment (without further cost), using Form D (Annex IV).

J) Enforcement of the judgment. This is governed by the law of the Member State in which the judgment is enforced. The party seeking enforcement produces an original copy of the judgment, and of the certificate (Form D) translated by a qualified person into the language, or one of the languages, of the Member State of enforcement. The party is not required to have an authorized representative or a postal address in the Member State of enforcement, other than with agents competent to carry out the enforcement procedure. The authorities cannot require any security, bond or deposit on the grounds that the claimant is a foreign national or is not domiciled or resident in the Member State of enforcement.

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