The European Payment Order (EPO) – A simpler solution to cross-border monetary claims in civil and commercial matters
An EPO is a European Order for Payment which is governed by EC Regulation 1896/2006. The Regulation, which came into force in the year 2008, introduces a procedure which simplifies, speeds up and reduces the costs of litigation in intra-community cross-border cases concerning uncontested monetary claims in civil and commercial matters.
An intra-community cross-border case is one in which at least one of the parties is domiciled or habitually resident in an EU Member State other than the State of the court which is seized with jurisdiction over the action. The jurisdiction of the Court in the case of an EPO is determined in accordance with the Brussels I Regulation (EC Regulation 44/2001), primarily based on the domicile of the defendant.
Once issued, a European Order for Payment is recognised and enforced in all other EU countries without the need for any declaration of enforceability or any possibility of the debtor opposing its recognition and enforcement.
Thus, one would proceed with filing an EPO in Malta if the debtor in the claim is domiciled in Malta and has assets in Malta and/or in other EU Member States.
Main European Payment Order Features
The claim must be for a specific amount which has fallen due at the time when the application is submitted.
The application may be submitted in paper form or by any other means of communication, including electronic, available to the court seized of the action.
Where the court seized allows an application to be made online, this is completed by the applicant through a simple database interface in a standardised format prescribed by the Regulation.
An EPO application can be downloaded here or completed online in any of the languages accepted by the courts of the EU.
The assistance of a lawyer is not necessary for the filing of the application, but will become necessary if the debtor contests the claim and a court case is opened.
The combined court fees of an EPO and of the ordinary civil proceedings which ensue if the debtor contests it, shall not exceed the court fees of ordinary civil proceedings in Malta.
The court receiving the application examines whether the applicability conditions have been met (that is, the cross border factor, the jurisdiction of court, the civil and commercial nature of the claim), and examines whether the claim is well-founded.
If all conditions are met, the court proceeds to issue the order typically within 30 days of lodging of the application.
The order becomes enforceable unless the defendant lodges a statement of opposition with the court.