The European Order for Payment Procedure has the key aim of simplifying and speeding up the processing of uncontested claims across borders within the EU, and thus of reducing the costs of such litigation between Member States. This procedure is available to parties as an alternative to the procedures provided for in the national legislation of the relevant Member State(s). The procedure is usually conducted in writing, using standard claim forms.
The European Order for Payment Procedure is based on Regulation (EC) No. 1896/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council. It is applied in all EU Member States except Denmark.
In what matters is the European Order for Payment Procedure available?
The European Order for Payment Procedure applies only to overdue, uncontested monetary cross-border claims. An uncontested claim is one which the opposite party does not dispute. There is no upper limit to the monetary value of a claim under this procedure.
The procedure is not available in all kinds of disputes, but there are no limitations on its application to uncontested, overdue consumer complaints.
Where and how do I file a complaint?
Begin the European Order for Payment Procedure by filling in the standard Claim Form A and submitting it to the competent court. Claim Form A is available here. Instructions for each section of the form are given on the form itself, so you do not necessarily have to consult a lawyer.
If you are considering using this procedure, make particularly sure that you are addressing the claim to the right party. Also remember the risks involved. If the vendor has no assets, you will only incur unnecessary costs from the procedure, because even a decision in your favour will probably not benefit you.
Principally, your claim must be filed with a court in the home country of the vendor. However, a consumer is also entitled – with certain exceptions – to file a claim with a court in his own home country. In Finland, the competent court for the European Order for Payment Procedure is the Helsinki District Court. Information on competent courts in other Member States can be found here.
What does the procedure cost?
The party initiating the procedure must pay the processing fee charged by the court. In Finland in 2014, the fee was EUR 86.
More costs will be incurred if the other party disputes the claim and processing is continued as in ordinary legal disputes. The losing party is generally ordered to pay not only their own legal costs, but also those of the winning party.
However, under this procedure you have the right to request that the proceedings be discontinued if the other party contests the claim. Also remember that if the vendor has no assets, an order for payment will have no effect.
Can I submit the claim in Finnish?
Your claim must be submitted to the court in the official language of that court.
How does the procedure go?
Once you have submitted the Claim Form to the court, the court will investigate without delay whether the claim fulfils the criteria for consideration and seems justified.
If the vendor has contested the claim within the time period set, the proceedings will continue according to the legislation on judicial procedure for civil-law disputes in the Member State in question, unless you have specifically requested that the proceedings be discontinued in this situation.
If the vendor has not contested your claim and you have submitted all the necessary information to the court, the court must issue a European Order for Payment, usually within 30 days of receiving the claim. This 30-day period does not include any time required for adding to, amending or correcting the claim.
Having been notified, the opposite party may contest the Order of Payment within 30 days.
Does enforcing a decision require any further action?
A European Order for Payment is enforceable in all Member States except Denmark, and does not need to be separately declared enforceable.
The Order for Payment must be sent to the enforcement authorities in the Member State in which it is to be enforced. You will probably need to have the Order for Payment translated into the official language of that Member State. Information on the competent enforcement authority may be found here.