The European Order for Payment
Jan 22 2015 •
As trade increases within the European Community, the number of disputes with an international dimension is bound to increase. The prevalence of the “European order for payment” (“EOP”) will increase. Introduced in December 2006 by the European Parliament, the procedure creates a method by which companies and individuals are able to seek an expeditious manner for securing payment of debts owed to them by third parties based in other EU member states (with the exception of Denmark).
Being the recipient of an EOP endorsed with the seal of the High Court of Justice can be a rather unnerving experience, particularly when one reads the key part that states:
“In accordance with Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006, the court has issued this European order for payment on the basis of the attached application. By virtue of this decision, you are ordered to pay the claimant the following amount: “
The implication from this standard wording is that there has been some judicial oversight, if you will, a consideration of the merits of the underlying claim. The Order, does, after all, say that a decision has been made on the “attached application”. As it happens, the application and Order is issued as a matter of administrative exercise and without any real judicial oversight or at least, without a determination of the underlying claim.
A defendant, upon receipt of an EOP, needs to decide whether it should be opposed or whether it should simply be paid and not contested. If it is to be challenged, then there are strict deadlines for doing this, usually 30 days from receipt of the EOP. If it is not challenged, by filing the relevant statement of objection with the Court, the Order becomes like a Judgment in Default (a form of Order common to English lawyers) and becomes payable without anything further required. It can then be enforced by the Court bailiffs attending or any other form of execution process being carried out.
The thing to remember is that you have a limited period of time in which to challenge the Order. It is not a Court Order in the way English lawyers would ordinarily recognise, in the sense of being “final” and requiring a sum of money to be paid. It is more like a claim form, requiring a prompt response, failing which, judgment will be entered without further ceremony.
Advice is crucial and should be sought promptly where the underlying claim is challenged. Whether that claim should then be challenged in England or elsewhere is a whole different issue, governed by a different set of rules, and specialist advice from those experienced with the international dimension is important!