The European Small Claims Procedure: Striking the Balance between Simplicity and Fairness in European Litigation
Zeitschrift für Europäisches Privatrecht, Vol. 2, pp. 355-373, 2008
16 Pages Posted: 6 May 2008
Date Written: 2008
This article deals with the European Small Claims Procedure (ESCP). After the European Order for Payment procedure, this is the second autonomous European procedure that has been established. Attention is paid to the background of harmonization of small claims proceedings in the European Union (II), the need for a ESCP (III), the scope, commencement and conduct of the ESCP (IV) and concludes with an evaluation of the ESCP in view of the aims to simplify and speed up small claims litigation and to reduce costs, while respecting the right to a fair trial.The establishment of the ESCP is a step in the right direction to promote access to justice, and to speed up, simplify and reduce costs of small claims litigation, while respecting the principles of a fair trial. It is concluded that the Regulation vouches for a careful balance between simple and relatively cheap proceedings on the one hand and the principles of a fair, adversarial procedure on the other hand. Whether the ESCP will become successful in practice of course remains to be seen and will be evaluated after five years. The optional nature of the ESCP leads to multiplicity of procedures, which might as such not be preferable, but it also implies that it will really have to prove its value in competition with the existing national procedures. This may well benefit both national small claims procedures and the ESCP.
Keywords: European small claims procedure, small claims, harmonization, access to justice, fair trial
JEL Classification: K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation