Improving Access to Information in European Civil Justice: A Mission (Im)possible?
in: Jan von Hein and Thalia Kruger (eds.), Informed Choices in Cross-Border Enforcement. The European State of the Art and Future Perspectives, Intersentia: 2020, p. 503-525
20 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2021
Date Written: June 15, 2020
Increased judicial cooperation in the European Union and the growing number of civil justice instruments have also increased the need for information. In the area of cross-border enforcement, multiple instruments are in place, while enforcement itself is still largely a matter of national law. Informed choices in cross-border enforcement require that users of the different regulations on cross-border enforcement have access to information on the scope and use of these instruments. This paper discusses how access to information is secured and can be improved at the European and national level. It questions whether at present the access to information – as one of the practical obstacles to access to justice – is sufficient. It views the need for information against the bacground of multilevel and multifaceted regulation of civil procedure and for the different actors involved. It focuses on three European civil justice instruments in particular: the European Order for Payment Procedure, the European Small Claims Procedure and the European Account Preservation Order in the broader context of European civil justice. The optional nature of these instruments make access to information all the more important.
It is concluded that access to information in European civil justice is hampered by a number of issues. First, the European legal framework lacks coherence, making it more difficult to navigate the different instruments. Second, the implementation of the European procedures into national law, as well as the interaction between European and national civil procedural law, are generally flawed. Third, while considerable information is available on the European e-Justice Portal and – to a lesser extent – on national websites and those of professional organisation and consumer centres, the information is scattered, incomplete and not easily accessible for end-users in particular,. This makes the use of theseprocedures by self-reprented litigants as enabled by these instruments a myth. The paper proposes improvements both at the EU and national level.
Keywords: civil justice, cross-border enforcement, access to justice, access to information, self-representation, e-justice portal
JEL Classification: k19, K40, K41, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation