In Case C-144/12 Goldbet Sportwetten GmbH v Massimo Sperindeo, the Court of Justice on the 13 june last emphasised the stand-alone nature of Regulation 1896/2006, the European order for payment. The Regulation provides for a simplified procedure to ensure rapid enforcement of non-contested pecuniary claims. The Regulation however leaves the underlying jurisdictional rules untouched.
The procedure takes place in camera up until the debtor has been notified of an order being made against him. From that moment on, of course, the debtor may contest, and the Jurisdiction regulation takes over. Standard procedure is to contest in shorthand format, following a prescribed form. However in the case at issue, the debtor had replied by issuing a lengthy contestation as to the substance of the claim, without expressis verbis contesting the jurisdiction of the court. The question which subsequently arose was whether this submission, seeing as it did not contest jurisdiction, could count as voluntary appearance under Article 24 of the Jurisdiction Regulation. That Article prescribes that one has to contest jurisdiction in limine litis, for otherwise the opportunity to do so is lost. In other words, the argument revolved around the contestation, in substance, of the order for payment: was that the ‘limine’ (the very start of the proceedings) in the application of Article 24 JR?
No, the Court held: that would imply that the order for payment procedure and the procedure held in application of the Jurisdiction Regulation, are one and the same, flawless procedure. Which the provisions of the former dictate they most certainly are not: according to Article 6(1) of Regulation 1896/2006, jurisdiction is determined under the rules of in particular Regulation 44/2001.
Counsel in this case was close to having being penalised for having been too active early on in a legal procedure. I am ambivalent what to think of that from the point of view of the profession!