Spanish Rules of Civil Procedure Adapted to the European Order For Payment Procedure For Small Claims

28 March 2011

The Spanish Official State Gazette of March 25, 2011 published Act 4/2011 (March 24) which adapts the Rules of Civil Procedure to aspects of European procedural law governed by EC regulation no. 1896/2006 of December 12, 2006 and EC Regulation no. 861/2007 of July 11, 2001 respectively, thus facilitating their application. This procedural reform will go into effect on April 14, 2011.

This modification complements Act 13/2009 of November 3rd, which reforms procedural legislation to implement the new judicial office which will simplify small claims, increasing the maximum amount to be claimed through the order for payment procedure from €30,000 to €250,000, as well as the amount for oral procedures for small claims, which went from €3,000 to €6,000.

The European order for payment procedure is a channel for cross-border claims for uncontested pecuniary credits, while the European procedure for small claims allows for any type of claim when the value, not including interests, expenses and costs, does not exceed €2,000. The competent court will be the European Court of First Instance for order of payment procedures or, as the case may be depending on the class of “small claim” debt, the Commercial Court. Territorial competence is determined by that set forth in EC Regulation no. 44/2001 of December 22, 2000.

The legislative body has likewise made the following procedural reforms in keeping with the new European order for payment and small claim procedures:

  • The amount for claim that can be submitted without the intervention of an attorney and court attorney (procurador) has been increased from €900 to €2,000, in keeping with the claim amount of the European order for payment of small claims. There is no requirement to submit an application even in the enforcement stage, as long as the indicated claim amount is not exceeded.
  • There are plans for standardized forms for the claim for a oral procedure for small claims of €2,000 or less, whereas before now there were only forms for the order for payment.
  • Order for payment procedures now allow for the possibility of the judge, if errors are detected in the claim amount, proposing a smaller claim amount than the one that appears in their request to the claimant, in line with that established in the European order for payment procedures.
  • If the debtor cannot be accounted for at the address in the court district or if the impossibility of locating same in another address has been proven, the acting court must close the proceedings to avoid delays resulting from the processing of matters of competence. This is without prejudice to the creditors right to resubmit the claim with the appropriate competent court, wherever the debtor may be located.
  • The Fiscal, Administrative and Social Order Measures Act 53/2002 of December 30th has been modified to include the initial filing of the order for payment within the taxable event of the court tax, heretofore exempt. If, at a later date, the filing of the claim is required in view of the objections raised by the debtor, the tax is not levied again.

For further information please contact César García de Quevedo: