An Overview of the European Payment Order (EPO)
The European Payment Order is a debt collection procedure meant to simplify the cross-border recovery of uncontested claims within the European Union. In 2006, Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006 was designed in order to create an unvarying EU-wide procedure for efficiently recovering debt in cases concerning multiple member states. The intent behind these efforts is summarized in article 9 of the EC Regulation as being:
“The purpose of this Regulation is to simplify, speed up and reduce the costs of litigation in cross-border cases concerning uncontested pecuniary claims by creating a European order for payment procedure, and to permit the free circulation of European orders for payment throughout the Member States by laying down minimum standards, compliance with which renders unnecessary any intermediate proceedings in the Member State of enforcement prior to recognition and enforcement.”
The European Payment Order has been particularly beneficial for individual citizens and SMEs as it offers a simple and cost-efficient alternative to litigation in cases of cross-border debt collection. This system has been carefully designed to work hand in hand with national jurisdictions, allowing creditors to choose which procedure to implement in complex multinational situations. The procedure is modeled to stand autonomously and in complementarity to national policies pursuant to Article 1.2:
“This Regulation shall not prevent a claimant from pursuing a claim within the meaning of Article 4 by making use of another procedure available under the law of a Member State or under Community law”
European Payment Orders allow for an even application across EU jurisdictions – with the noted exception of Denmark and applies to all civil and commercial matters in which at least one of the involved parties resides in a different Member state from that of the creditor. There are certain exceptions to its scope of applicability however with, issues such as (1) revenue, customs or administrative matters; (2) state liability for acts and omissions in exercise of state authority; (3) matrimonial property regimes; (4) bankruptcy; (5) social security and (6) claims arising from non-contractual obligations (unless subject to an agreement between parties or an admission of debt; or relating to liquidated debts from joint ownership of property) being set aside for exclusive competency of national courts.
Recovering debt in France
The European Payment Order in France
Cross-Border Debt Collection: A Practical Guide to The European Payment Order (EPO)
Step 1: File Standard Form A
The application process for obtaining your EPO begins with the filing of an EU standardized form (Standard Form A) in which the claim’s amount and regulatory due date is indicated and sent to the competent court (issues of competences and jurisdiction are determined within Regulation (EC) No 121/2012 and are addressed in more detail below). Article 7 of said EC Regulation stipulates that the form should include clearly both the amount claimed as well as the case’s associated evidence and cause of action.
Step 2: Identify the Competent Courts and Submit Completed Application
Determining the competent court in your case is essential to obtaining an enforceable payment order through the EPO system. Such courts have been nominated by Member States and are registered with the Commission for their role in the following proceedings. These nominations can be modified by Member States making it essential to have your debt collection lawyer verify the competent court before completing your application. In the chance that your application has been sent to the wrong court, national legislation takes over in defining that court’s scope of action.
Step 3: Court Examines your Application: Accepts or Rejects
The Court is brought to evaluate whether the applicant has fulfilled the necessary criteria laid out in Article 7 of the Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006. Obtaining the EPO relies therefore on the extent of the information provided by the applicant to the Courts as this is their sole basis for judgement. Typically, if your claim is founded, your application is admissible, and your form has been properly filed with the competent courts you will be issued the requested EPO within a 30-day delay.
If the court rejects a claim due to the nature of the application itself, it has a duty to inform the applicant of its reasoning. The system does not allow for a right of appeal in these expedited procedures however, the claimant is in their rights if they wish to re-apply using a new form or proceed with an alternative measure. In certain cases, you may consider returning to national debt collection laws after having your European Payment Order rejected
Tip: Your application will be rejected if you fail to send your reply for modifications within the delay dictated by the Court.
Step 4: Getting your EPO Enforced
The Court has issued your EPO, now what? Once the process is started, your debtor has a 30-day window to contest the claim or accept its payment. If they do not reply within the stated 30 day delay the EPO is automatically recognized and enforceable throughout the Member States (with the noted exception of Denmark). Enforcement measures can differ across different countries and remains under sovereignty of national law. In order to enforce your EPO, a copy of the European Payment Order and its translation will need to be sent to the proper authorities.
If your debtor contests your claims, the case becomes subject to litigation within ordinary civil courts and is to be handled by national law. The European Payment Order serves to expedite the recovery of uncontested claims. When claims are challenged by opposing parties they are therefore made to be outside of the scope of EU jurisdictions.
Step 5: Have your EPO judgement certified: the European Enforcement Order
The final step to recovering your debt through a European Payment Order is to have your judgement certified under a European Enforcement Order (EEO). Once the EEO has been issued by the court, it is sent to the relevant enforcement authority of the debtor’s Member state. With the EEO must be sent a copy of the original judgement as well as a translated version of the EEO certificate
Step 6: Get your money back !
Article written by Baptiste Robelin, NovLaw Lawfirm based in Paris, www.novlaw.eu
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