30 November 2012 by

Breaking down barriers – enforcing legal remedies across the EU is about to get easier

The European Parliament is often given a hard time in the national press for the extent to which it influences the law in the UK.  Many people feel that the decision makers are too detached from local public life and culture to act in their best interests.

Whilst some of the scepticism towards certain EU legislative involvement may be justified, the EU is trying to make it easier for businesses to conduct cross-border transactions and to strip down barriers which obstruct the free flow of commerce.

Following the EU Parliament’s backing to proposals put forward by the European Commission, it should become easier for businesses to seek legal remedies against companies based in different countries within the EU.

At present, if a business wants to take legal action against a company that is based in another EU member state, or has valuable assets there, they would have to commence legal proceedings in the EU state where the contract was performed or the offence was committed, which may not be the same place the offending business is based.  Once that legal process is concluded and a judgment is obtained, the business would have to apply to the court that is local to the judgment debtor to (i) give official recognition to the judgment and (ii) to enforce it.

Unfortunately, it is commonplace for courts in many of the EU member states to take a long time to recognise judgments and start the enforcement process due to over-stretched resources.  The process of seeking recognition in the appropriate court can also be an expensive one and this all combines for an often unsatisfactory experience for businesses.

The EU Parliament has recognised that the practical difficulty of enforcing a judgment in different EU member states often acts as a psychological barrier to businesses that otherwise want to enter into commercial arrangements across the EU, but that are conscious of the expense and delay of seeking a remedy when something goes wrong.

It now looks likely that judgments obtained in the court of any EU member state will be automatically recognised across the whole of the EU.  This would mean that judgments can be enforced swiftly, without having to wait for the court where enforcement is sought to go through their country specific steps to recognise a judgment from another member state as being valid. This change in law is expected to save businesses and the EU-wide court system 48 million Euros per year.

Whilst this change in law is doubtless a positive step towards a fluid, borderless EU state, it remains to be seen whether it will have a material effect on the amount of cross-border business that is done within the EU or whether it will merely act to give those inadvertently wrapped up in the legal process a cheaper and quicker way of recovering what they are owed.

If you need any help seeking a legal remedy or enforcing a judgment against a business based in another EU member state you can contact Marc Thurlow on 020 7288 4768 or marcthurlow@boltburdon.co.uk.

9 November 2012 by

Is possession really 9/10 of the law?

On 13 October 2003 Schedule 6 of the Land Registration Act 2002 introduced a new regime to the law of adverse possession in respect of registered land.

23 November 2012 by Vincent Billings

Software Development Agreements

With only 31 days to go until Christmas, many people will be considering buying smart phones, tablets and other electronic gadgets containing software. The recent high-profile litigation between Apple and Samsung demonstrated the value of intellectual property rights (“IPR”) in software and of ensuring that such IPR are properly documented and protected.

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