Public consultation launched on small-scale cross-border disputes in the EU

The European Commission has launched a public consultation that seeks opinions on how to improve access to justice for consumers and small businesses in small-scale cross-border disputes. With this consultation, the Commission intends to improve confidence in cross-border shopping, helping consumers and businesses make full use of Europe’s Single Market.

The European Small Claims Procedure offers a cheap and easy way to resolve cross-border disputes for amounts below €2,000, without complicated legal procedures. However, a report released last year from the European Consumer Centres Network found that this user-friendly procedure is not yet widely known and is often under-used. For this reason, the European Commission has launched a public consultation that seeks to improve this procedure. Contributions to the consultation can be made until 10 June 2013.

The consultation will ask for input about how the Small Claims Procedure is currently being used and how it can be improved, asking questions such as whether the threshold for claims should be raised above €2,000, whether legal documents used in the procedure should be able to be sent electronically or whether the Procedure should address the issue of Court fees.

The Commission will then report back before the end of 2013 on how the Small Claims Procedure is operating after its first five years. The report will be accompanied, if necessary, by a proposal to revise the Small Claims Regulation.