Good to know
What is the small-claims procedure?
This is a simplified procedure through which you can present a conflict with a seller to a judge. This procedure is faster and simpler than the standard procedure. Your conflict has to meet several requirements to be eligible for this procedure.
If you would like to know more, take a look at this site.
What conflicts are eligible for a small-claims procedure?
First of all, the conflict between you and the seller must be of an international nature. That means that you and the seller live in different EU countries. Secondly, it must concern a civil or trade matter. Thirdly, the value of your claim cannot exceed €5,000. You can use the claim for conflicts in all EU countries except Denmark.
What conflicts are not eligible for a small-claims procedure?
Does your claim exceed the value of € 5,000? Then your conflict is not eligible for a small-claims procedure. You can start a regular court procedure.
What are the costs of starting up a small-claims procedure?
To start up the procedure, you must pay court fees to the court where the matter is being handled. This is a sum that must be paid to the court when you start up a lawsuit. You will receive an invoice from the court clerk. If you do not pay the court fees, there is a significant chance that your case will not be handled. You can find more information about the amount of the court fees in the Netherlands on the website of De Rechtspraak. If you want more information about the court fees in different EU countries, you can contact us.
The losing party has to pay the legal costs, e.g. the lawyer’s fees. These costs must be determined in accordance with national legislation. The small-claims procedure is intended to quickly resolve claims for relatively small amounts. The judge will therefore only include legal costs in his ruling if they are in proportion to the amount of the claim.
You must also keep the costs of translating forms into account. Furthermore, you must advance the costs of the enforcement procedure. These are the costs incurred in order to claim the awarded compensation from the seller. The bailiff will reclaim these costs from the seller. If they are successful in doing so, your advance will be refunded.
It is not always clear in advance whether the incurred costs can be recovered from the seller. If the seller does not have the money to pay your costs, the bailiff cannot reclaim this sum either.
How do I start up a small-claims procedure?
As the plaintiff, you must fill out the standard claim form A. You fill out this form in the language of the court to which you address the request. The form is available in all official EU languages. You must also include evidence that supports your claim: the contract, any correspondence with the seller and a receipt.
Submit these documents along with claim form A to the authorised court. It is not always possible to submit the claim to the court in your own place of residence. Sometimes, you must send it to a court in the seller’s country. We can help you find an authorised court.
How does the small-claims procedure go?
The procedure takes place entirely in writing, unless the court believes a hearing to be necessary. You do not have to get a lawyer’s assistance. Terms are set for the parties and the court to ensure the procedure is handled quickly.
Once the court receives your claim form, they will fill out part 1 of standard reply form C. This will be sent to the defendant (the seller) along with a copy of your claim form. They will do so within 14 days of receiving your form.
The defendant must reply within 30 days of receiving the court’s message. They do so by filling out part 2 of standard answer form C and sending this to the court. You will receive a copy of this form within 14 days of the court receiving this document.
Within 30 days of receiving the answer form from the seller, the court will usually rule on your claim. The judge may ask for additional information from you or the seller. The seller and you may also be called in for an oral hearing. The hearing can take place through phone- or videoconference.
The court submits its ruling to the seller and to you. Both the seller and you may request a certificate of the ruling from the court. This is form D. The ruling can then be executed in any other EU nation without any further measures.
What happens after the judge’s ruling?
If the judge rules in your favour, this does not necessarily mean the end of the procedure. The seller has to honour the judge’s decision. If they fail to do so, you must deploy the services of a bailiff in the seller’s country. They can enforce the judge’s ruling. You can contact a bailiff via their professional organisation in the country in question.
You must provide a copy of the court’s ruling to the bailiff. You must also submit form D. This form must be translated into one of the seller’s country’s official languages by a certified translator.