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European Small Claims Court

If you wish to make a claim against a Bulgarian company but are resident in another EU country, then the European small claims court can assist you in achieving a rapid and easy solution. European Council Regulation 861/2007 of 11 July 2007, and implemented January 2009, establishes a 'European Small Claims Procedure'. This straightforward procedure was set up to improve and simplify civil and commercial matters where the value of a claim does not exceed 2000 €. Except for Denmark, the legislation applies across all Member States of the European Union.

Claims have been significantly simplified by the procedure operating on the basis of only four standard forms, with just one initial form to initiate a claim. It is a written procedure - unless an oral hearing is considered necessary by the court. The Regulation also establishes time limits for the parties and for the court in order to speed up litigation.

Summary of some key points:
Subject matter
This Regulation establishes a European procedure for small claims (referred to as the "European Small Claims Procedure"), intended to simplify and speed up litigation concerning small claims in cross-border cases, and to reduce costs. The European Small Claims Procedure is available to litigants as an alternative to the procedures existing under the laws of the Member States.

This Regulation also eliminates the intermediate proceedings necessary to enable recognition and enforcement, in other Member States, of judgments given in one Member State in the European Small Claims Procedure.

The regulations apply in cross border cases to civil and commercial matters where claims do not exceed 2000 euros.

The regulations do not extend, in particular, to revenue, customs or administrative matters or to the liability of the State for acts and omissions in the exercise of State authority (acta jure imperii).

It does not not apply to matters concerning:
(a) the status or legal capacity of natural persons;
(b) rights in property arising out of a matrimonial relationship, maintenance obligations, wills and succession;
(c) bankruptcy, proceedings relating to the winding-up of insolvent companies or other legal persons, judicial arrangements, compositions and analogous proceedings;
(d) social security;
(e) arbitration;
(f) employment law;
(g) tenancies of immovable property, with the exception of actions on monetary claims; or
(h) violations of privacy and of rights relating to personality, including defamation.

A cross-border case is one 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 or tribunal seised.

How to begin
The claimant starts the European Small Claims Procedure by filling in standard claim Form A and lodging it with the court or tribunal, by post or by any other means of communication, such as fax or e-mail, acceptable to the Member State in which the procedure is started. The claim form shall include a description of evidence supporting the claim and be accompanied, where appropriate, by any relevant supporting documents.

Where the court or tribunal considers the information provided by the claimant to be inadequate or insufficiently clear, or if the claim form is not filled in properly, it shall, unless the claim appears to be clearly unfounded or the application inadmissible, give the claimant the opportunity to complete or rectify the claim form or to supply supplementary information or documents or to withdraw the claim, within such period as it specifies.

Where the claim appears to be clearly unfounded or the application inadmissible or where the claimant fails to complete or rectify the claim form within the time specified, the application shall be dismissed.
The claim form is available at all courts and tribunals at which the European Small Claims Procedure can be commenced.

The claim form, the response, any counterclaim, any response to a counterclaim and any description of relevant supporting documents shall be submitted in the language or one of the languages of the court or tribunal.

The unsuccessful party shall bear the costs of the proceedings.

Applicable procedural law
Subject to the provisions of this Regulation, the European Small Claims Procedure shall be governed by the procedural law of the Member State in which the procedure is conducted.

Recognition and enforcement
A judgment given in a Member State in the European Small Claims Procedure isrecognised and enforced in another Member State without the need for a declaration of enforceability and without any possibility of opposing its recognition.

Under no circumstances may a judgment given in the European Small Claims Procedure be reviewed as to its substance in the Member State of enforcement.

For more information about how to submit an EU cross-border small claim, forms required and further assistance, visit the European Union site