New rules that started to apply on 10 January 2015 allow businesses and consumers to resolve EU cross-border legal disputes more easily, which may save up to €48 million annually. The rules are moreover expected to cut red tape and abolish lengthy and expensive procedure, which is currently used about 10,000 times per year to obtain civil and commercial recognition in other EU countries. Similar cross-border judgements will be therefore automatically enforceable across the EU, bringing more protection for consumers when buying products and services from non-EU countries and more legal certainty for companies when doing business across the EU.
As Vera Jourova, the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, has explained, “This is very good news for Europe’s citizens and small and mid-sized firms”. Official sources hint that this could be very good news for Europe’s citizens and small and mid-sized firms as the new legislation could bring savings of between €2,000 and €12,000 per individual case. According to some, this can be a successful delivery on the promise to cut red tape and strengthen the EU’s Single Market as such an action has the potential to make a significant difference in particular for small and medium enterprises and eventually bring more opportunities for business across Europe.
The new rules include, for example, enforceable judgement in civil and commercial matters in one EU Member State which will be automatically enforceable anywhere in the EU. Moreover, the rules abolish the intermediate procedure known as the “exequatur” which typically costs €2,000 to €3,000 depending on the Member State but could cost as much as €12,700 including lawyers’ fees, translation and court costs. In almost 95 percent of cases, however, the exequatur procedure was only a formality. Among other rules affected are, for instance, more protection for consumers and employees in legal disputes with non-EU countries and more legal certainty for choice of courts agreements between companies.