Raising Awareness on Access to Justice
Raising Awareness on Access to Justice

News

2013 02 28

How to get the money back from foreign sellers?

On February 22, 2013, a conference “The European Order for Payment and the European Small Claim Procedures: are Consumers Protected?” took place in Vilnius, which dealt with the issues of consumers’ possibilities to protect their rights when in trouble about goods or services purchased in other EU countries, as well as issues of specifics and challenges of international legal procedures execution.    

An introductory presentation was made by the President of Lithuanian Consumer Institute Dr. Zita Čeponytė who emphasized that more and more goods and services are purchased by consumers in other EU states. Surveys show that 47% of EU consumers buy goods on-line, 10% from other EU member states. 25% of EU consumers buy in other EU states during their holidays, travels, or business trips. Average value of cross-border contracts is EUR 381 annually. The projection is that the number of cross-border purchases will continue to increase. 

Although the European consumer centres received 32 thousand claims in 2012, statistics show that most consumers avoid protecting their rights. One fifth of EU consumers do not complain about a problem, and only 2% turn to courts. The main reasons: no knowledge of the law of another country (53%), language barriers (47%), and cost of the procedures (27%).

Consumers also know too little about the European order for payment and the European small claimsprocedures allowing to solve financial disputes with sellers and service providers from other EU countries in a simpler, faster, and cheaper way. A survey conducted in 2010 by the European consumer network shows that consumers are not the only ones who lack information. 47% of judges in the EU have never heard about the European small claims procedure; the rest lack knowledge about it. 

The Director of the European Consumer Centre in Bulgaria, Mr. Ignat Arsenov, , noted that consumers not just lacked knowledge about the procedures, but had very little information, which would help them choose a procedure in a particular case. The European consumer centres and non-governmental organisations protecting consumer rights can play an important role in such situations, when they can provide people with support with the procedures and their implementation.  

Dr. Laura Gumuliauskienė, a lawyer, reminded the audience that the European order for payment and the court ruling in accordance with the European small claim procedure are applicable in all EU Member States except Denmark. Procedures can be followed only when the residence of the claimant and the defendant are in different EU states. 

The President of the Lithuanian Chamber of Bailiffs, Ms. Dovilė Satkauskienė, talked about the European procedures implementation in other countries. For instance, in Ireland applications for the execution of the European small claim procedure ruling shall be submitted to the Central Office of the Irish High Court independent of the debtor’s place of residence. Applications shall be submitted in person; they cannot be sent by post. In France and Germany, however, the execution document shall be submitted to the bailiff.  

Presentations at the conference “The European Order for Payment and the European Small Claim Procedures: Are Consumers Protected?” were also made by other lawyers and experts on consumer rights.  

The conference is organized as part of the project “Raising Awareness on Access to Justice “, which is funded by the  2007-2013 specific programme "Civil Justice" of the European Commission, the Lithuanian Consumer Institute, the Bulgarian National Consumers Association "Active Consumers" and by the national budget funds of the Republic of Lithuania. Further information at: http://www.vartotojai.lt/en/civil-justice

For more information:

Lithuanian Consumer Institute
49 S.Konarskio st., LT-03123 Vilnius 
Tel./fax  (8-5) 2310711 
E-mail: info@vartotojai.lt

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