Unsuccessful purchase during your holidays abroad? Promises to return payment for abandoned cross-border transaction last for ever? Unfounded collected money amounts from a credit card? Failure to agree with a trader and within the framework of out-of-court procedure on execution of claim?
A dispute may be resolved simply, fast and without unreasonable costs thanks to the European Small Claims Procedure.
What is the European Small Claims Procedure?
The European Small Claims Procedure is proceedings in cross-border disputes about inconsistency of goods or services to provisions of a contract, where the principal sum of the claim does not exceed EUR 5000 (excluding all interest, expenses and disbursements) and which since 1 January 2009 is applied in all Member States of the European Union (EU), except Denmark.
Useful to know:
Cross-border disputes are disputes in which at least one of the parties is domiciled or habitually resident in a Member State other than the Member State of the court where the action has been brought.
The European Small Claims Procedure is itended to simplify and speed up litigation concerning small claims in cross-border cases, and to reduce costs.
What kind of jurisdiction?
> A consumer may bring an action in a court of that Member State where his domicile is or in a court of that Member State, where is the domicile or a subsidiary of the respective businessman.
> An action may be brought against a consumer only in a court of that Member State, where is the consumer’s domicile.
How to commence the European Small Claims Procedure?
The claimant commences the European Small Claims Procedure by filling in a claim form and lodging it with the court that has jurisdiction, directly, either sending by post or using any other means – for example a fax or e-mail, that are acceptable for the Member State, where the procedure has been commenced. In the claim form there shall be evidence described, on which the claim is based, and the claim form shall be accompanied, where appropriate, by any relevant supporting documents.
In Latvia the claimant may submit a Statement of claim to the competent court directly or send it by post.
The claim form that is to be submitted to a court in Latvia shall be filled in in Latvian.
Nota Bene! The European Small Claims Procedure is a written procedure. Only in exceptional cases the court may decide to have an oral hearing in a court session, considering it necessary for a fair adjudication of a matter.
Remember! Representation by a sworn advocate or lawyer shall not be mandatory.
The claim form shall be filled in the language of that court to which the statement is submitted. The form is available in all official languages of the EU at the website of European Judicial Atlas in Civil Matters (http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/judicialatlascivil/html/index_lv.htm).
What are the costs?
When submitting to the court the claim form for the European Small Claims Procedure, there shall be a court/State fee paid as determined by a Member State.
In Latvia the amount of a State fee with respect to the European Small Claims Procedure is determined in accordance with the Civil Procedure Law. Depending on the amount claimed in the European Small Claims Procedure the state fee in the following amount shall be paid:
1) till 2134 EUR – 15 percent from the amount claimed but not less than 70 EUR;
2) between 2135 EUR and 7114 EUR – 320 EUR plus 4 percent from the amount claimed, that exceeds 2134 EUR.
What happens next ?
> Next, within 14 days of receiving the properly filled in claim form the court shall dispatch a copy of the claim form and answer form to the defendant.
> The defendant shall submit his response within 30 days of service of the claim form and answer form.
> Within 14 days of receipt of the response from the defendant, the court shall dispatch a copy thereof, together with any relevant supporting documents to the claimant.
> When within the stipulated period of time the response has been received from the defendant or the claimant and the court does not need any additional information or evidence, the court within 30 days shall render a judgment.
> If the respective party has not given the response within the stipulated period of time, the court shall render a judgment.
Remember! The defendant has a possibility to submit a counterclaim or his objections concerning the amount claimed.
How recognition and enforcement of a judgment in another Member State is implemented?
> A judgment given in a Member State in the European Small Claims Procedure shall be recognised and enforced in another Member State without the need for a declaration of enforceability and without any possibility of opposing its recognition.
> In order to enforce a judgment given within the framework of the European Small Claims Procedure in another Member State the court at the request of the party shall issue a certificate concerning this judgment. The judgment shall be enforceable notwithstanding any possible appeal. The provision of a security shall not be required.
In Latvia sworn bailiffs shall be competent to enforce judgments.
Appeals and review of the judgment
> Availability of an appeal in the European Small Claims Procedure shall be governed by the civil procedure rights of the respective Member State. Majority of the Member States has provided for a possibility within a fixed period of time to submit appeals concerning a judgement given in the European Small Claims Procedure.
In Latvia in accordance with civil procedure rights of Latvia the judgment of a Court of First Instance may be appealed by the participants in the matter, by submitting an appeal within 20 days from the day the judgment is rendered. In its turn the judgment of a Court of Second Instance may be appealed by the participants in the matter in accordance with cassation procedures within 30 days from the day the judgment is rendered.
> In certain conditions (non-service of documents, force majeure or extraordinary circumstances without any fault on his part, in the result of which the defendant was prevented from objecting the claim) the defendant shall be entitled to apply for a review of the judgment given in the European Small Claims Procedure. The request about review shall be submitted before the court with jurisdiction of the Member State where the judgment was given.
Remember! The unsuccessful party shall bear the costs of the proceedings.
Governing laws and regulations
> Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 of 11 July 2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council, establishing a European Small Claims Procedure ;
> Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters ;
> The Civil Procedure Law of the Republic of Latvia.
Detailed information on application of the European Small Claims Procedure and filling in the forms is available in European e-Justice Portal (https://e-justice.europa.eu/42/EN/small_claims?init=true), where you can find additional information about competent courts and authorities of the EU, to which to turn in particular cases.
Know that information and assistance concerning consumer rights in cross-border matters is rendered by the European Consumer Centre of Latvia (ECC Latvia)!