Consumer rights within the European Union

Debbie-Haskell-150x150Have you ever bought goods over the internet from a retailer in the European Union and been worried about what you could do if they did not arrive or were faulty?

It is not a very well known fact but our government signed up to a European Directive in 2007 to make it easier for one party to a dispute to take the other to court even though they are located in another European member state.  Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 established a European Small Claims Procedure and has applied since 1 January 2009 to business and consumers alike. Its principle aim is to ensure access to justice by simplifying the whole cross boarder court process through the use of unified forms and by reducing matters to a paper procedure where possible. It applies to all European states with the exception of Denmark and strict time frames must be adhered to, to ensure that the dispute is efficiently managed.

European Small claims – what does this mean….?

Simply put, if for example you had a contractual dispute with a party based in the European Union, such as faulty goods being delivered and if you were not able to resolve the matter amicably perhaps via your bank, credit card or a service provider then under the European Small Claims Procedure (or ESCP) a consumer or business can start proceedings using a uniform court form.  The ESCP only applies to claims up to the current value of €2000 and to disputes of a consumer and commercial nature. Whilst this description covers quite a wide variety of claims there are restrictions which apply and it is actually easier to list those which don’t.
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“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sarah-Varani-150x150According to government statistics the number of Employment Tribunal claims fell 79% to 9,801 in the final quarter of last year compared with the same period in 2012, and dropped 75% on the third quarter of 2013. Although it is difficult to categorically link the drop  in Employment Tribunal claims to the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees in July last year, it seems reasonable to draw the conclusion that such fees are acting as a deterrent to both Claimants and employment solicitors alike.

The fees range between £160-£250 simply to submit a claim with a further fee of £230-£950 payable for the claim to be set for a hearing. In unfair dismissal claims it’s not unusual for the maximum potential compensation to be between £5,000 and £10,000 therefore if the Claimant doesn’t qualify for a partial or full remission of fees, they will have to pay between 12% and 24% of the amount they’re claiming before the hearing takes place. For people on low incomes and those new to the Employment Tribunal, this is a daunting prospect, especially when coupled with what many would perceive as a David vs Goliath situation.
Continue reading “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr.