Several unified procedures have been developed in the EU in recent years with regard to cross-border debt recovery. Constitutionally, these procedures belong within the framework of the creation of a European legal area of security, freedom and justice and access to justice (cf. Art 67 TFEU jo. Art 81 TFEU et seq.). This has led to four regulations:
Lawyer Tim de Greve, partner at Stibbe.
I regularly consult the IJI in cases involving private international law aspects. The institute has been around for over 100 years, so it boasts a long history and experience. There are eminent people associated with it. Not the least Mr Strikwerda. The IJI legal counsels think along with you, immediately understand the question you are facing and come up with solutions. They have the right connections at home and abroad to answer questions within a reasonable time. Apart from that, it is very pleasant working with the people of the IJI.
Lawyer mr Channa Samkalden, Prakken d'Oliveira
We have consulted the IJI in several cases. One example is a case brought by some Nigerian farmers against Shell about oil pollution in Nigeria. That case involved the application of Nigerian law by the Dutch courts. And the IJI figured out the framework of tort law in Nigeria for that purpose for us. We used that advice in the proceedings and also submitted it to the court and it showed, for example, that our claimants were also entitled to claim against Shell under Nigerian law. Actually in all those kinds of cases, the IJI is extremely useful because you get a very solid advice on the basis of which you know: do we want to have a number of things investigated further, can that be done by the IJI or should we turn to someone else? But at least you can use this information at an early stage of your proceedings.
Lawyer mr. Ria van Seventer, Meesters aan de Maas Advocaten
Our law firm is based in Rotterdam, a city with more than 170 nationalities, so we regularly have to seek private international law advice from the IJI. For example, I have had to deal with the recognition of a child by an Italian, to which Italian law has to be applied. I don’t speak Italian so I can’t do that myself. I also don’t have access to the sources and the IJI does.
The regulations have a number of aspects in common. For instance, they aim at simpler, cheaper, faster and more efficient procedures in the European judicial area. In addition, the scope of the regulations covers civil and commercial matters, regardless of the nature of the court. Next, the regulations only cover cross-border legal relationships (cf. Article 81 TFEU). Finally, the Regulations are characterised by their optional nature; any recourse to the Regulations is left to the choice of the parties.
With regard to the content of the proceedings, common features include:
- the use of standard forms in a written hearing (with the possibility of an oral hearing if necessary);
- the non-compulsory nature of legal representation;
- the abolition of exequatur;
- the dependence on national procedural rules and thus the inseparable nature of the proceedings;
- the lack of a comprehensive regulation concerning the final enforcement stage; except for some directives, the enforcement stage is left entirely to the law of the country of enforcement;
- the autonomous interpretation of the procedural rules contained in the regulation.