Len Dastard vs the European Small Claims Procedure, Part 1

15 July 2011

Bitterwallet-Len-Dastard-featuredHola amigos. It is I, Len Dastard, former Mexican wrestler turned litigation executive. Here is something a little different for you. Consider this an education. I have handed out many brutal educations in my wrestling days. You mention the name of Len Dastard to El Poco Salvador and don’t be surprised to see a grown man soil his flamboyant lycra.

Most of you should be aware of the Small Claims Court in England and Wales (of which you can find details here) but how many of you know that there is also a European Small Claims Procedures (ESCP)? If you do, I take my sombrero off to you.

What is the European Small Claims Procedure?
The ESCP provides consumers and businesses all over Europe with a prompt (call me cynical but for how long will it stay prompt?) and inexpensive cross-border debt recovery process. The ESCP has been in force since 1st January 2009. You can find a full list of Member States here. However, think twice about importing delicious Danish bacon as Denmark doesn’t fancy participating.

What will the ESCP cover?
The ESCP will apply in civil and commercial matters. You can also use the ESCP for non-monetary claims. However, for monetary claims, there is a limit to a claim of 2000€.

What is the procedure?

Thankfully, the bulk of the procedure is a form filling exercise. These forms are standard across all courts and will also give you details of the time limits imposed in order to ensure that the matters are dealt with promptly. Much like the Small Claims Court of England and Wales, there is no requirement for you to be legally represented.

However, and it is important to bear this in mind at all times, if you are unsuccessful there might be a possibility that the Judge will order you to pay the other parties costs. You can find all the forms here on the European Commissions Judicial Atlas website.

What does the ESCP not cover?
The ESCP cannot be used for the following claims:

• Privacy or defamation (slander and libel)
• Employment law
• Bankruptcy/insolvency
• Disputes concerning property from a marriage or will
• Arbitration/mediation

In Part 2 we will consider the costs of issuing a claim and the options open to the Defendant. Get in contact with us at [email protected] if you would like us to look at any issues for you. Adios!

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