Europeanisation of civil procedure: Towards common minimum standards?

11-06-2015

The free movement of judgments in the European Area of Justice presupposes a high level of mutual trust between the judiciaries of the Member States. From the citizens' perspective, the key issue is the balancing of the fundamental rights of claimants and defendants, i.e. the right of access to justice (to pursue a claim) and the rights of the defence. Mutual trust in judiciaries can be built in various ways. First of all, through the creation of uniform European procedures in the form of optional instruments, which lead to the pronouncement of judgments on the basis of common rules of procedure. Secondly, sector-specific harmonisation of procedural law is possible, addressing civil procedure in the context of other policy areas, such as intellectual property, competition law or consumer protection. Thirdly, horizontal harmonisation of civil procedure by way of directives is also possible. Up to now, only selected and rather narrow areas of civil procedure have been addressed in this manner. However, a more ambitious project has been launched by the European Law Institute (ELI) in collaboration with the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit), aimed at elaborating European rules of civil procedure. These rules, once finalised, could be the basis of a future directive on minimum standards of civil procedure in the EU.

The free movement of judgments in the European Area of Justice presupposes a high level of mutual trust between the judiciaries of the Member States. From the citizens' perspective, the key issue is the balancing of the fundamental rights of claimants and defendants, i.e. the right of access to justice (to pursue a claim) and the rights of the defence. Mutual trust in judiciaries can be built in various ways. First of all, through the creation of uniform European procedures in the form of optional instruments, which lead to the pronouncement of judgments on the basis of common rules of procedure. Secondly, sector-specific harmonisation of procedural law is possible, addressing civil procedure in the context of other policy areas, such as intellectual property, competition law or consumer protection. Thirdly, horizontal harmonisation of civil procedure by way of directives is also possible. Up to now, only selected and rather narrow areas of civil procedure have been addressed in this manner. However, a more ambitious project has been launched by the European Law Institute (ELI) in collaboration with the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit), aimed at elaborating European rules of civil procedure. These rules, once finalised, could be the basis of a future directive on minimum standards of civil procedure in the EU.