Thursday, 5 December 2013

European Enforcement Orders in disputes between "consumers", C-508/12

Today, the CJEU delivered also a judgement concerning enforcement of uncontested cross-border claims: Case C‑508/12 Vapenik v Thurner

European Enforcement Orders are a mechanism allowing judgements on uncontested claims to be enforced in a country different than the one where they have been issued without incurring the hurdles of exequatur or validation procedures. 

The dispute concerned repayment of a loan concluded between two parties none of whom was acting in a professional capacity. They were, this, both consumers.The creditor sued in his home country Austria, the procedure ran in accordance with Austrian law and the duly notified debtor decided not to appear before the court. The judgement, which found in favour of the creditor, remained unchallenged and thus became final and enforceable. The creditor then asked the same Austrian court to grant him a European Enforcement order to have the judgement more easily enforced in Belgium, where the debtor lives. The court refused, holding that one of the requirements for issuing such an order against a "consumer" debtor is that the judgement has been given in the state where he has his domicile (see Regulation 805/2004, art 6(1)(d)).

In short, the CJEU found in favour of the claimant, the creditor, who submitted [par 20] that the rule is intended to protect consumers when the other party is a professional and does not apply to "peer to peer" contracts as the one at hand. 
In particular, the court observed [par 33] that "there is also no imbalance between the parties in a contractual relationship such as that at issue in the main proceedings, namely that between two persons not engaged in commercial or professional activities. Therefore, that relationship cannot be subject to the system of special protection applicable to consumers contracting with persons engaged in commercial or professional activities."

P.S.: More curious readers might also want to take a look directly at the Court's reasoning in the case, which provides an interesting outlook on (the Court's view on) consumer protection as a system. 

No comments:

Post a Comment