The "European order for payment" procedure, abbreviated EOP, only applies in "cross-border" cases, in which the creditor and the debtor are located in different EU countries.
Provided that the claim is not disputed, our office will submits an application by means of EU standard form to the competent court, which issues a European order for payment against the debtor.
For this procedure, the parties do not have to appear before the court, making this procedure simpler than the traditional procedure through summons.
Whereas the plaintiff or his lawyer is required to appear at the first session of the court to claim a (default) judgment against the debtor in the regular proceedings under Belgian law, the EOP proceedings are written proceedings.
The costs are therefore significantly lower than the costs in the ordinary summons procedure.
The creditor must advance the cost of the summons before starting the regular procedure through summons. In most cases the bailiff cost for summons before the court are approximately €300 in Belgium.
In the EOP procedure, the creditor only has to pay the court fee, which in Belgium amounts to EUR 80 in most cases.
As the plaintiffs’ counsel does not have to appear in court, the cost of legal representation are also lower.
In principle, the creditor can submit the form A himself, without a lawyer, which, however, is not advisable: certain formal rules and rules of territorial competence must be observed, such formal legal rules of Belgian law being unknown to the layman.
The application for a European order for payment is submitted by means of the European form A.
The court clerk checks the application form and when it is complete, a European payment order form (form E) is sent to the debtor by the court.
The defendant may lodge a statement of opposition with the court that issued the order for payment. This must be sent within 30 days of service of the EOP by means of a European document, Form F.
If the debtor files an opposition, the case will in principle be continued in court in accordance with normal procedures.
However, as a creditor, you have the option of refraining from further proceedings if the debtor files an opposition.
This choice of not continuing disputed proceedings in case of opposition by the defendant can already be made before starting the European payment order proceedings by means of a separate declaration annexed to the application form.
The defendant is not informed by the court about this 'opt out' by the creditor in case the debtor disputes the claim.
Experience has shown that a debtor who refuses to pay an invoice because of alleged "complaints" about the goods is usually not heard of when a European order for payment is sent to him by the court.
Most debtors will not take the risk of disputing the European payment order, but being convicted to pay all the legal costs, as well as the costs of legal representation of the opposing party when the opposition is turned down by the court.
If the debtor does not lodge an opposition within the 30-day period, the court issues a form G (Declaration of enforceability), which has the same legal force as a judgment and can be executed by a bailiff against the debtor.
A European order for payment is enforceable in all EU countries, so that debtors’ property can also be seized in other EU Member States.
Our office has a thorough expertise when it comes to cross-border collection.
We do not only conduct EOP proceedings before the Belgian courts, but also in other EU countries, such as Luxembourg and France.