The European Commission is to review the operation of a cross-border claims service, after admitting it has failed to make an impression with consumers.
The European Small Claims Procedure was launched four years ago to resolve cross-border disputes worth less than €2,000.
The service was intended to cater for increasing numbers of claims arising from disputes over purchases made over the internet, but the EC concedes the procedure ‘is underused’.
The procedure involves a single standardised claim form that is served on the defendant, who has 30 days to submit a response and counter-claim.
Domestic courts can demand further details, take evidence, or summon the parties to an oral hearing. The court must then make a judgment within 30 days.
A consultation running until 10 June is asking whether the threshold for claims should be raised and whether legal documents used in the procedure should be sent electronically.
Consumers in seven countries (Portugal, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Austria) are already able to complete the small-claims forms and carry out the whole court procedure online, through the European e-justice portal .