Small Claims process to cross EU borders

Suing a business in another EU country for a sum less than €2,000 should become quicker and easier under a procedure agreed by Ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Friday.

The UK negotiations on the proposals have been led by Baroness Cathy Ashton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Constitutional Affairs. She said it will help travellers, tourists, workers and businesses alike.

"The processes will be simple and effective and give people confidence that they can bring their case without a cumbersome procedure," said Baroness Ashton.

Under the text agreed, claims valued at less than €2,000 and involving cross-border issues will be subject to the procedure. Claim and defence forms will be the same in all the European languages and courts will be encouraged to decide claims on paper where possible, with use made of telephone and video conference communications if oral hearings are felt necessary. Parties need not be legally represented if they do not wish to be, and the process for enforcing judgements in other EU states will be made easier.

The text of the proposed European Small Claims procedure was finalised in Luxembourg at a meeting of European justice ministers. The document now goes to the European Parliament for consideration.