Service tools

Language selector

EU flag

Navigation path

Menu

Updated : 04/08/2017

Formal legal action for consumers

European Small Claims Procedure

When to use

You can use the European Small Claims Procedure to make a claim against a person, organisation or business based in another EU country for a maximum value of EUR 5 000.

This procedure is not available for claims in Denmark.

You can use the procedure to claim reimbursement for goods or services. For example, you can make a claim for a faulty product that you bought in another EU country, or bought online from someone living in a different EU country. You don't need to use a lawyer to submit a claim.

Be aware that some civil and commercial matters are not covered by the procedure, including:

  • revenue, customs or administrative matters
  • family rights arising from marriage (such as maintenance), wills and successions
  • social security and employment entitlements
  • the liability of the state

How to claim

The Small Claims Procedure is mostly a written procedure. To make your claim, you need to fill in form A and add any documents that can support your claim. Once completed you should send your form and any supporting documents, such as receipts or invoices, to a competent court - either in your home country or in the other EU country concerned.

Find a competent court and check the rules in the country of the court on how to submit your claim.

Remember, the amount claimed cannot exceed EUR 5 000, excluding interest and expenses.

Once it receives your claim, the court will check the form and supporting documents and decide if your claim is within the scope of the procedure. They may ask you to complete form B if any necessary information is missing.

If your case is admissible under the Small Claims Procedure, the court will contact the defendant (the person that you're making the claim against). The defendant has 30 days to reply.

Within 30 days of receiving an answer from the defendant (if they decide to answer), the court will either:

  • make a judgement on your claim
  • ask for more details in writing from you or the defendant, or
  • ask you to attend a hearing

How to enforce

The court's decision is automatically recognised in other EU countries. However, if the defendant doesn't comply with the decision, you can contact the enforcement authorities in their country.

You will have to provide:

  • an original copy of the judgement
  • the certificate of judgement (also known as form D) - which may need to be translated

The enforcement authorities will enforce the decision following national rules.

Cost of the procedure

You will usually have to pay a court fee, which will be reimbursed if your case is successful. The amount you pay depends on the country of the court.

More information on the European Small Claims Procedure is available on the eJustice Portal.

European Payment Order (order for payment procedure)

When to use

You can use the European Payment Order to recover monetary claims in another EU country. It applies to uncontested civil and commercial claims, for example where a claim has already been settled in court and agreed to by the debtor.

This procedure is not available for claims in Denmark.

How to claim

The European Payment Order is a completely written procedure, so you don't need to go to court to use it.

To start the procedure, you first need to fill in form A, giving details of the parties concerned, the nature and the amount of your claim. Once complete, you should send your form to a competent court.

The court will then check your claim. If your case is admissible under the European Payment Order procedure, the court will issue the European Payment Order within 30 days.

In Hungary the European Payment Order is issued by notaries, but in all other EU countries it is issued by courts.

How to enforce

Once they receive the European Payment Order, the debtor (the person you're claiming the money from) has 30 days to either accept or contest your claim.

If the debtor contests the European Payment Order, your case will be transferred to the ordinary civil courts and be dealt with under national law. If they don't oppose the claim, the European Payment Order will become automatically enforceable.

To get the order enforced, you need to send a copy of the European Payment Order, and if necessary a translation, to the enforcement authorities in the relevant EU country.

More information on the European Payment Order is available on the eJustice Portal.

Formal court procedure

If you believe your rights under EU law have been breached and you decide to enter into a formal court procedure, you are entitled to:

  • a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time limit before an independent and impartial court
  • the services of a lawyer to advise, defend and represent you

Even if the service provider or trader is based abroad, you can have your case heard in your home country if the company is commercially or professionally active in or towards your country.

If you aren't able to pay for formal legal action, you should be entitled to legal aid. You need to fill in the form for legal aid application in another EU country and submit it to your local court which will send it to the competent court in the other EU country.

These EU-wide rules do not apply in Denmark. However, there are several agreements in place to ensure the transmission of applications for legal aid in certain cases.

Need support from assistance services?
Get help and advice