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European Small Claims Procedure

Introduction.

The European Small Claims Procedure is an alternative method of commencing and dealing with civil and commercial matters in respect of a small claim in cross-border cases. It is provided for in Regulation (EC) No. 861/2007 and the District Court Rules 1997 and 2008 - Order 53C refers.

A cross-border case is one where at least one of the parties lives in a Member State of the European Union (excluding Denmark) other than the Member State of the Court dealing with the claim.

The service will be provided in Ireland through the District Court by the District Court Clerk, called the Small Claims Registrar ('the registrar'). You cannot make a European Small Claim on-line. The procedure will be mainly dealt with by correspondence although a hearing before a court can be held if the court thinks it is necessary.

Where possible, the registrar will negotiate a settlement without the need for a court hearing. You do not need to involve a solicitor.

You can bring claims up to a value of €2,000 in relation to civil and commercial matters.

The following types of claim are excluded from the procedure:-

  • revenue, customs or administrative matters.
  • matters relating to the liability of the State for acts or omissions in the exercise of State authority.
  • the status or legal capacity of natural persons.
  • rights in property arising out of a matrimonial relationship, maintenance obligations, wills and succession.
  • bankruptcy proceedings relating to the winding-up of insolvent companies or other legal persons, judicial arrangements, compositions and analogous proceedings.
  • social security.
  • arbitration.
  • employment law.
  • tenancies of immovable property, with the exception of action on monetary claims.
  • violations of privacy.
  • defamation.

A word of warning.

Deciding on whether or not to make a claim is a matter for yourself and only you can be the judge of that.

In making a claim you must be sure of the name and address of the person or company against whom you want to make a claim. These details must be accurate so that the court order (judgment) can be enforced.

Making a claim.

Contact the District Court Office in the area where the person/party against whom you are making a claim (called 'the respondent') lives or carries on business.

A consumer may commence a European Small Claim in the District Court area where the consumer is ordinarily resident or carries on any profession, business or occupation.

The registrar will provide you with the application form or you can download the European Small Claims Application form here.

You should lodge the completed application form together with the fee of €25 with the registrar.

The registrar will send a copy of the completed application form to the respondent.

The original application form will be kept in the registrar's office.

If your claim is not disputed.

If the respondent admits your claim he/she is required to notify the registrar's office by returning an Answer Form together with payment of the amount claimed. The registrar will then transmit payment to you.

If the Respondent does not reply.

If no reply is received the court will give judgment.

If your claim is disputed.

If the registrar receives a notice from the respondent disputing your claim or making a counterclaim against you, the registrar will contact you andlet you have a copy of the respondent's answer. Where no settlement can be reached the matter will be referred to court.

A counterclaim.

A counterclaim is a claim made against you by the respondent.

Translation of documents may be requested.

The registrar may request a party to provide a translation of any document relating to the claim where;

another party refuses to accept such document because it is not in a language which that party understands,
or,
it is required to give judgment.

Note: Strict time limits are contained in Articles 5 & 7 of Regulation (EC) No. 861/2007 in relation to the conduct and conclusion of proceedings.

Review of judgment.

A respondent will be entitled to a review of a judgment given under the procedure where;

(a) (i) service of the claim or the summons was not effected properly, and
(ii) service was not effected in sufficient time to enable the defendant to arrange for his or her defence,

or

(b) the defendant was prevented from objecting to the claim by reason of force majeure or due to extraordinary circumstances.

Recognition and Enforcement.

A judgment given in a Member State in the European Small Claims Procedure will be recognised and enforced in another Member State and the enforcement procedure will be governed by the law of the Member State where the judgment is to be enforced.

At the request of one of the parties, the court will issue a certificate concerning a judgment in the European Small Claims Procedure at no extra cost.

In respect of judgments for execution in Ireland, county registrars are the appropriate authorities except in Dublin and Cork where it is the sheriff. You should send a copy of the judgment and a copy of the certificate issued by the court, together, where appropriate, with a translation of the certificate to the appropriate county registrar/sheriff for execution.

This page updated: 16 April 2012