Skip to main content

Competent courts in cross-border disputes

Which court?

In a case involving more than one EU country, people need to know which court should hear their case, and how a judgment can be recognised and enforced in another EU country.

In the Brussels I Regulation, the rule is that the courts of the defendant's EU country of residence should hear the case. Exceptions apply in some specific cases, such as

  • a breach of contract:the courts of the place where the obligation in question should have been performed should hear the case
  • non-contractual matters: the courts of the place where the harmful event took place are competent. For example, if a person were injured as a result of someone's negligence, the case would be heard in the EU country where the accident happened.

The Regulation applies to all civil and commercial cases, whether the claim is contested or not and irrespective of the claim's value.

8 MARCH 2018
Regulation on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters
(549.39 KB - HTML)

Recognising and enforcing a judgment in another EU country

To enforce a judgment in another EU country, the applicant can turn directly to the enforcement authorities in other EU countries. For example, this would be the country where a debtor has assets.

The debtor against whom you seek the enforcement may apply to the court requesting refusal of enforcement.

European Union

Other institutions

International organisations

Hague Conference on Private international Law