A debtor is always a debtor, both in Spain and in Britain. Whether is an outstanding invoice or a debtor who does not want to pay, the usual way to ensure payment is going through the legal route. Sometimes matters can get more complicated if the creditor and the debtor live in different countries or the debtor has assets in another jurisdiction.
When it comes to Spain, some national laws have implemented an order for payment procedure called monitorio. The basic aim of this procedure is to avoid complex procedures when dealing with uncontested debt claims. The Court becomes a sort of intermediary which receives a form from the claimant asking the debtor to pay. Then, it issues an order for payment which is sent to the debtor. If the debt is uncontested, the order remains in force and becomes a judgement. If the debtor contests the claim, the matter will be examined in an ordinary Court hearing.
Today this procedure can be put into practice in cross-border cases within the European Union thanks to the EC Regulation 1896/2006. This Regulation applies to both Spain and Britain, and allows a prompt recognition of European orders for payment.
The advantages of the European order for payment procedure or monitorio are huge: it is a simple procedure, useful for international pecuniary claims and easy to put into practise. In fact, it can be used even by and against individuals. For example: a creditor applies for a European order for payment. If the defendant does not contest the petition, this will become final. And this order will be recognized all around the European Union (except for Denmark).
So, how does the procedure work?
1. The creditor fills in a standard form which appears in the EC Regulation. This form is the same for all EU countries. There should not be any problems with the language and it is not necessary to attach any proofs of the debt (bills, invoices, etc).
2. After examining the form, the Court contacts the debtor and demands payment. Then the debtor has three options:
-He can pay, and therefore the procedure comes to an end.
-He can ignore it. Then after 30 days the European order will be enforced.
-Finally, he could contest the order. In that event, the next step will be a Court hearing (unless the claimant has discarded this possibility when filing the forms).
3. In the event of uncontested orders, the creditor will be able to enforce the order in the same country where the initial procedure was started or in any other country of the European Union where the debtor may have assets. For instance, lets imagine a chap called Joe Bloggs who is a British national but living inMarbella. He owes money to John Sixpack, who lives in Leeds. John Sixpack files for a European order for payment procedure at the Court which holds the specific jurisdiction according to European rules, which in this case could be Marbella. Joe Bloggs ignores the claim and eventually the order becomes enforceable. However, when trying to enforce the order, John Sixpack discovers that Joe Bloggs has a house in Germany which is free of charges. John should be able to enforce the European Order in Germanywithout having to start a legal procedure from scratch.
This procedure can be very useful in cross-border matters within the European Union but as usual it is always convenient to speak with a lawyer and see the most suitable option for each case as the information contained in this article cannot be generically extrapolated to all kind of circumstances.
Photograph by www.dreamstime.com