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Brussels, 13 June 2007

Council adopts common position concerning Regulation establishing a European Small Claims Procedure

The Council adopted today its common position concerning a proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Small Claims Procedure. The aim of the Regulation is to simplify, speed up and reduce the costs of litigation concerning small claims by establishing a European Small Claims Procedure to be available to citizens as an alternative to the procedures existing under the laws of the Member States.

Franco Frattini, Vice-President of the Commission and Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, welcomed the adoption of the common position: “For the first time, citizens and businesses all over Europe will have a speedy and affordable civil procedure at their disposal which is uniform in all Member States and in all procedural steps from the commencement of the procedure to the final enforcement of the judgement”.

The common position preserves the essential features of the Commission proposal of 15 March 2005:

The procedure will apply in civil and commercial matters where the value of a claim does not exceed 2000 €. The procedure applies to pecuniary claims as well as to non-pecuniary claims.

In order to reduce costs and delays, the European Small Claims Procedure provides for several procedural simplifications, introducing standard forms to be used by the parties and the court and establishing time limits for the parties and for the court in order to simplify and speed up litigation concerning small claims.

The procedure shall be a written procedure, unless an oral hearing is considered necessary by the court. The court may hold a hearing or take evidence through a video conference or other communications technology if the technical means are available.

Moreover, the parties shall not be required to be represented by a lawyer or another legal professional and the court shall determine the means of taking evidence and the extent of the evidence necessary for its judgment under the rules applicable to the admissibility of evidence. It may admit the taking of evidence through written statements of witnesses, experts or parties.

The unsuccessful party shall bear the costs of the proceedings. However, the court shall not award costs to the successful party to the extent that they were unnecessarily incurred or disproportionate to the claim.

The judgment shall be enforceable notwithstanding any possible appeal. The provision of a security shall not be required.

Finally, the Regulation abolishes the intermediate measures to enable the recognition and enforcement of a judgement given in a European Small Claims Procedure. A judgment shall be recognised and enforced in another Member State automatically and without any possibility of opposing its recognition.
The new procedure will apply from 1 January 2009.

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