Regulation amending the European small claims and order of payment procedures

Written on 10 Feb 2016

On 24 December 2015, Regulation (EU) 2015/2421, of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 16 December 2015, was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. This regulation amends Regulation (EC) no. 861/2007, establishing a European Small Claims Procedure and Regulation (EC) no. 1896/2006, establishing a European Order for Payment Procedure.

The new Regulation (EU) 2015/2421, which will come into force on 14 July 2017, modifies the European small claims and order payment procedures. It aims to simplify and speed up the resolution of cross-border disputes as well as to facilitate its access to both consumers and companies, in particular small and medium-sized businesses.

One of the main new features affecting the European small claims procedure is the increase, from 2,000 to 5,000 Euro, of the maximum amount allowed. This was a key request made by the majority of the judicial agents and, in particular, by small and medium-sized businesses.

Also, the exceptional nature of oral hearings has been strengthened as these should only be used in the above procedures if necessary. This approach aims to increase and enable the use of distance communication technologies, as long as they are suitable for the satisfactory progress of the legal proceedings. To this end, new articles 8 and 9 of Resolution (EU) 2015/2421 establish that the statements made by witnesses, expert witnesses and/or parties must be given using distance communication technology (videoconference or teleconference), unless using this technology prevents the proceedings from continuing satisfactorily. Concerning this issue, the Recommendations of the Committee on cross-border videoconferences, approved by the Council in June 2015, and the work carried out within the framework of the European e-Justice Portal should be considered.

In relation to the service of documents, Regulation (EU) 2015/2421 supports the use of new technologies between Member States because, as set out in article 13, an electronic notification has the same results as a written one, provided that the Member States involved have the necessary technical means and use them in accordance with their procedural regulations. This is subject to the party or the person involved giving their consent prior to using these means or having to accept their use in accordance with the procedural rules of the corresponding Member State.

Additionally, concerning the review of a judgment in exceptional cases, if the defendant has not made an appearance because they were not served with the claim form, were not called to a hearing with in advance and with time to prepare their defence, or had not been able to contest the claim by reason of force majeure or owing to extraordinary circumstances through no fault of their own, they will have the right to request the review of the judgment, unless they had not made the request within the required time. To this end, a thirty (30) non-extendable time limit is set as from the day the defendant became aware of the content of the judgment, and was able to react or, at the very latest, from the date the first execution measure was applied in relation to the non-disposable property of the defendant, in accordance with new article 18.

In the event that the issued judgment is declared null and void as a result of any of the reviewed reasons set out above, the claimant will not lose the benefit of any interruptions in the prescription or closing dates, if said interruption is applied in accordance with the relevant Member State’s regulations.

Finally,  it should be emphasized that a review of new Regulation (EU) 2015/2421 has been planned, at the very latest for 15 July 2022, to assess the opportunity of increasing the limit of the claims as well as to extend the scope of the application in this procedure, in particular to claims related to remuneration matters.