The European Order for Payment

With the European Payment Order you can collect your money in cross-border cases faster and with reduced costs of litigation -- easier law-enforcement is an important step towards a united Europe.

In Europe of free trade it is important that the vendor is confident that he will collect his money.

An all too common problem: In today's widespread cross-border trade, many times individuals or small and medium-sized enterprises encounter problems, when the trading partner does not pay the received goods or services. With the current economic crisis, bills are settled increasingly slowly, and not only in Greece. Obtaining a payment order from a Greek court takes a long time and is altogether unfeasible for a Greek supplier –let’s take this as our example- if his debtor sits in Germany.

Until now the only option was to bring normal civil proceedings before the - in our example - German court. But there were some disadvantages, such as language barriers, ignorance of foreign law, mandatory legal representation, in short: starting a long lasting procedure and having significant costs.
Since 2009, the new European order for payment can be a real alternative to collect your uncontested claims in the EU, because it establishes a simplified and up-speed procedure in cross-border cases at reduced costs.

Lengthy preparations of the EU legislator were necessary to ensure that the honest debtor can defend himself against false claims as simply and without bureaucracy as the applicant files his claim. From the legal point of view, the EU legislator introduces for the first time a procedure which is meant to create a title that can be enforced in all EU-countries rather than to transcribe an existing title for execution abroad.

Here are the facts in a nutshell: From 12.12.2008 applies throughout Europe (except Denmark) Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006 of the European Parliament and the Council of 12 December 2006 creating a European Order for Payment. Already in June 2008, the German Bundestag had passed a domestic law that included detailed provisions on the European Payment Order changing the German Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO for Zivilprozessordnung) in its sections 1087 to1096. So all the relevant articles are already implemented in the German ZPO starting with the competence of the court where the application can be filed etc.

There are specific applications forms available at Berlin-Wedding´s district court. These forms are standardized and a lot of information is entered by "key codes" e.g. the vendor fills in a certain code number for “sale contract”, specifies the amount (no restrictions) and also the eventual interest-rate. This not only allows for automatic recording in court, but also saves the translation, because the forms have already been translated into all official EU languages. Documents or evidence shall not be attached to the application.

Next, the Wedding-district court examines the completeness of the data and briefly tests if the claim has a cross-border nature and if it is not obviously unreasonable. The Regulation expressly provides that this can be done in an automated process. The applicant also has the opportunity to correct the application if necessary.
These typical requirements met, the court shall issue the order for payment within 30 days and also delivers it ex officio to the defendant. There are no hearings and no related lawyers' fees.

The debtor may within 30 days from his notification oppose to the payment order. If not, the European order for payment is automatically declared enforceable meaning the court issues without any further formality or delay the requested payment order which can be enforced in all EU-member states.

The costs for the European Order for Payment are also lower compared with the usual payment order for as no translations must be attached and fewer formalities observed. The costs of any subsequent proceedings –i.e. the applicant doesn’t accept a debtor’s opposition- remain the same, but Article 25 of Regulation 1896/2006 states that must be taken into account.

The courts of Germany and Austria, as known, are very effective and - especially in comparison with Greece – fast, but especially for the European Order for Payment they are presently developing a very quick and simple computerized process, in collaboration with IBM, for efficient handling of a large number of applications. The German-Austrian cooperation develops an exemplary electronic solution to significantly facilitate the internal judicial process. Some EU Member States attend as observers and will later have the opportunity to adopt the system in the basic version and edit it for individual needs. The European Commission monitors the project favourably and approved financial support under the EU-programme «Civil Justice 2007 - 2013».

So there is a chance that sometime in the future also in Greece courts will issue European Payment Orders as described above. But already today we offer you the opportunity, for your legitimate cross-border claims in Germany to speed up judicial money-collection at reduced costs.