MEPs back harmonised rules for cross-border consumer litigation

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The European Parliament has shown overwhelming support for a Commission proposal to help businesses and consumers resolve cross-border legal disputes in a vote in Strasbourg yesterday (20 November).

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding's proposal to reform rules determining which national court has jurisdiction in cross-border cases received 567 votes in favour, 28 votes against with six abstentions.

The reform also includes how court judgments issued in one EU country are recognised and enforced in another.

"Removing bureaucratic obstacles, extra costs and the legal uncertainty of having 27 different and often contradictory systems makes the single market more attractive. This is a very good example of how justice policies can stimulate growth," Reding said in a statement.

"This reform will save time and money for businesses and consumers because judgments from one EU member state will be automatically recognised in another EU member state."

The legislation was proposed by the European Commission in December 2010 and aims to strengthen the EU's single market and reduce administrative burdens on companies.

It proposes to abolish the costly "exequatur" procedure which requires companies to first go through a time-consuming and costly procedure in courts to get a judgment in civil and commercial matters recognised in another EU country.

Abolishing this administrative procedure is expected to save businesses and consumers up to 48 million a year.

The draft legislation will now be passed on to EU Justice Ministers for final adoption in December 2012.

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