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UK European Consumer Centre

Brexit concern for small claims

judge's gavel on a deskEuropean Small Claims Procedure could disappear when the UK leaves the EU…


UK consumers are being warned that there is a danger that the European Small Claims Procedure may disappear when the UK leaves the EU. They are being urged to use it fully while they can.


Andy Allen, UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) service director, said: “There is currently such a wide range of cases that consumers can use the European Small Claims Procedure in; anything from flight delays to general consumer purchases to goods not being delivered, car hire, accommodation purchases – the list is endless, basically any kind of consumer purchase.


“It is a relatively unknown procedure but is a useful way for consumers to enforce their rights in resolving cross-border disputes. It can be used as a last resort if nothing else has worked. We encourage UK consumers to use the European Small Claims Procedure; if all attempts to resolve their complaint have failed, this procedure could be their next stage.”


The European Small Claims Procedure’s claims limit has recently been increased from €2,000 to €5,000, meaning that more consumers can now benefit from the procedure if their disputes remain unresolved.


Andy said: “With this increase in the claim amount, more consumers have the potential to benefit from the procedure. So far, an estimated 3,100 English and Welsh consumers have lodged claims using the European Small Claims Procedure. We are keen for more consumers to take advantage of what is essentially designed to avoid otherwise difficult, costly and time-consuming legal procedures.”


And Elisabetta Sciallis, the UK ECC’s legal executive, added that building on the systems already in place or preserving them until newer infrastructures are in place should be at the forefront of any short or long-term considerations in Brexit negotiations on consumer rights.


She said: “The Government needs to ensure the preservation of a common set of rules, schemes and organisations. These are necessary to govern interactions between legal systems which play significant roles in making consumer rights stable and harmonised throughout Europe.


“We believe that Brexit negotiations must consider mechanisms to establish mutual recognition of decisions and procedural matters; it is important to safeguard consumer rights between the UK and the EU by guaranteeing the current judicial cooperation framework or negotiating a similar legal framework.


“Without this, there is considerable concern that the mechanisms which allow the consumer to pursue EU companies through the UK courts will no longer function once the UK leaves the EU.”


The UK ECC has just produced a new guide to the ESCP (showing the new €5,000 limit), with information on how to start a claim by providing links to the relevant forms and websites. It is available in the publications section of the UK ECC website.

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