Adapting Irish Small Claims Procedure

Author:Juan Pablo Cortés Diéguez
Position:LL.M., Ph. D. Candidate, Faculty of Law, University College Cork
Pages:108-120
Cork Online Law R eview 2007 10
Cortés, Adapting Irish Small Claims
Procedure
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ADAPTING IRISH SMALL CLAIMS PROCEDURE
Adapting the Irish Small Claims Procedure to the E–Commerce Era
Juan Pablo Cortés Diéguez1
The notion that most people w ant black–robed judges, well–dressed
lawyers, and fine panelled courtrooms as the setting to resolve their
dispute is not correct. People with problems, like people with pains, want
relief, and they want it as quickly and inexpensively as possible.
Warren E. Burger, former Chief Justice, United Stat es Supreme Court
‘Our Vicious Spira l’ Judges Journal 22, 49 (1977)
The author acknowledges the generous financial support from the Irish
Research Council for Humanities and Social Science.
ABSTRACT
This article evaluates the impact which the proposed European Small
Claims Procedure (ESCP) may have on the existing Small Claims Procedure
(SCP) in Ireland. Part one reviews the present Irish Small Claims Procedure.
Part two considers the proposal for a Regulation establishing a European
Small Claims Procedure for the resolution of cross–border disputes and its
relevance for the resolution in Ireland of small claims in cross–border
disputes. The present Irish SCP is designed to deal with low cost disputes at a
national level. Consequently, the resolution of small value disputes with a
cross–border element such as those arising from e–commerce is untouched
under the domestic SCP. In order to promote increased consumer confidence
and a truly integrated common market, the European Commission has
produced a proposal for the regulation of an ESCP intended to be
implemented by the year 2009. The proposed ESCP is predominantly a
written procedure that deals with claims under 12,000 in value arising in
cross–border disputes, and it provides for the enforcement of decisions in
any of the member states (with the exception of Denmark) without the
present need of going through the formal mutual recognition of judgements.
This article discusses the challenges posed by the European
Commission proposal as modified by the European Parliament and the
European Economic and Social Committee. The main conclusion of this
article is that the ESCP, in conjunction with Information Communication
Technology (ICT) tools, has the potential to realise more efficient
enforcement of the rights of European consumers. This article also argues
that the effectiveness of the Commission’s proposal may be hindered by its
own restrictions, such as its exclusive application to cross–border disputes,
its low monetary threshold and the lack of adequate provisions supporting
Alternative Dispute Resolution methods such as mediation and negotiation.
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1 LL.M., Ph. D. Can didate, Faculty of Law, University College Cork.

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