Progress in judicial cooperation in civil matters in the European Union
Since Spain joined the – then – European Community 30 years ago, there has been a great deal of progress in judicial cooperation in civil matters in the European Union.
Judicial Cooperation in civil matters is aimed at achieving the closest possible collaboration between Member States, in order to eliminate the obstacles arising from potential incompatibilities between the different legal systems and facilitate access to justice. The basic pillar is the principle of mutual recognition of court decisions, the objective of which is to ensure the recognition and enforcement of court decisions in other Member States without the need for any intermediate phases; in other words, eliminating exequatur.
The following Regulations, which are directly applicable to Member States, have been passed with the aim of contributing to judicial cooperation in civil matters:
- Regulations 44/2001 and 1215/2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. Regulation 1215/2012 eliminated the requirement for a prior declaration of enforcement (exequatur) of judicial decisions and enforceable public documents.
- Regulation 805/2004 creating a European Enforcement Order for uncontested claims, which enables creditors to enforce court judgments and authentic instruments, provided they are not contested by the debtor, thus abolishing exequatur.
- Regulation 1896/2006 creating a European order for payment procedure, in which a European order for the payment of a monetary debt is issued and, if uncontested, becomes enforceable, therefore eliminating exequatur.
- Regulation 861/2007 establishing a European small claims Procedure through which debts not exceeding 2,000 euros can be claimed, therefore facilitating the process by eliminating exequatur.
- Regulation 1393/2007 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents, which simplifies the procedure.
- Regulation 1206/2001 on the cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters, thus facilitating cooperation.
- Regulation 2201/2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility.
- Regulation 4/2009 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations.
- Regulation 650/2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession.
There is no doubt whatsoever that these Regulations significantly simplify the procedures relating to cross-border civil matters in the European Union for legal professionals.
The Regulations and practical information on how they apply is also systematically provided in the European Judicial Atlas in Civil Matters.
In addition, the European Judicial Network in Civil and Commercial Matters provides general information to national judicial authorities and citizens on cross-border civil and commercial matters.
Garrigues Litigation and Arbitration Department