Savings of up to €48 million thanks to new rules for cross-border judgments

On January 10, the Regulation (EU) 1215/2012 adopted by the European Parliament and of the Council on 12 December 2012 which replaces Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels I Regulation), began to apply. The aim of this revision is to facilitate and accelerate the circulation of judgments in civil and commercial matters within the European Union. Removing bureaucratic obstacles, extra costs and the legal uncertainty of having 27 different and often contradictory systems make the single market more attractive.

The principal objective of this Regulation is to facilitate the free circulation of judgments and to enhance access to justice. This means that citizens and companies will be able to recover the money in a quicker, easier and free way.

The most important change is the abolition of the exequatur procedure. The exequaturis the procedure for the declaration of enforceability of a judgment given in another Member State. With this Regulation, a judgment given in a Member State which is enforceable in that Member State shall be enforceable in the other Member States without a declaration of enforceability being required, upon production of a copy of the judgment which satisfies the conditions necessary to establish its authenticity and a certificate to be issued by the court of origin (Article 37).

An enforceable judgment in civil and commercial matters in one Member State will be automatically enforceable anywhere in the EU. The rules abolish the cumbersome intermediate procedure – the “exequatur” procedure. This procedure typically costs €2,000 to €3,000 depending on the Member State, but could cost up to €12,700 including lawyers’ fees, translation and court costs. In almost 95% of cases, this procedure was a pure formality.

Pursuant to the new provisions, in the event of a dispute with a company outside the EU that sells products in a Member State, European consumers can access the courts of your country of residence and not have to go to the country outside the EU. The regulation also allows employees who work in the EU to initiate legal proceedings against their employers located in a country outside the EU before the courts of the Member State where they ordinarily work.

This reform will save time and money for businesses and consumers because judgements from one EU Member State will be automatically recognised in another EU Member State. It is a small revolution for the European area of justice which brings us closer to the model of the U.S. Single Market. It is expected that this simplification will allow a saving of 48 million euros.

“This is very good news for Europe’s citizens and SMEs”, Věra Jourová, the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said. “These new rules could bring savings of between €2,000 and €12,000 per individual case. It is a successful delivery on the promise to cut red tape and strengthen the EU’s Single Market. Such action will make a significant difference in particular for small and medium enterprises and will open up many more opportunities for business across Europe”.