Case summary

Deciding Body
Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic
Najvyšší súd Slovenskej republiky
Slovakia
National case details
Date of decision: 10.03.15
Registration ID: 8 MCdo 6/2014
Instance: Cassation (review)
Case status: Final
Area of law
Consumer protection
Other

Safeguards for access to justice
Art. 47, CFREU, Right to access a court
Relevant principles applied
Equivalence, Effectiveness
In judicial dialogue
Judgement of the CJEU (Third Chamber), 27 February 2014, Case C-470/12 Pohotovosť s. r. o. v. Miroslav Vašuta

Life-cycle diagram

  1. 27 February 2014

    CJEU Preliminary Ruling, C-470/12 (Pohotovost')

  2. 10 March 2015

    Slokakian Supreme Court judgm. in dialogue with CJEU, C-470/12

Identification of the case

National law sources
  • Art 93 Civil Procedure Code
EU law sources
  • Art 47 CFREU
  • Art 6 Directive 93/13/EEC

Summary of the case

Facts of the case

Defendant – consumer (debtor) was sued for payment of outstanding consumer credit debt by the claimant, who acquired the receivable from the original creditor. The 1st instance court issued an order for payment (summary decision issued without a hearing only on the basis of the claimant's application and supporting documents), which was duly served on the defendant, who was free to file an opposition within 15 days.

During this term, a consumer association filed the opposition and stated, it wanted to become an intervener under Art 93 of Civil Procedure Code.

1st instance court rejected the opposition as it deemed the association not allowed to file it.

Appellate court quashed that decision and remanded the case for further consideration, relying on Art 6 of Directive 93/13/EEC. Supreme Court quashed the appellate decision.

Type of enforcement
  • Civil judicial enforcement
Measures, actions, remedies claimed/applied

Monetary claim

Reasoning (legal principles applied)

A third party (including consumer association) may intervene in a civil proceeding under Art 93 of Civil Procedure Code from the moment, when the proceeding has become adversary. The proceedings for issuing the order of payment becomes adversary, as soon as the defendant's opposition is filed. As a result, an opposition cannot be filed by the prospective intervener.

Consumer's rights under EU law are guaranteed by the Civil Procedure Code, which does not allow the court to issue an order for payment, when the underlying contract contains unfair terms. In its judgment C-470/12, the CJEU has stated that it is not required either by Art 6 of Directive 93/13/EEC or Art 47 of CFREU to allow consumer associations as interveners in civil procedures. This does not preclude the consumer association from asserting its right under Art 7 of Directive 93/13/EEC.

Role of the Charter and role of the general principles on enforcement

Relation to scope of the Charter

Charter was implicitly found applicable, as it was considered by CJEU in its judgment C-470/12, which dealt with a similar subject matter.

Safeguards for access to justice
  • Explicit reference to Art. 47, CFREU (right to an effective remedy and a fair trial)
  • Right to access a court
Relevance of CFREU and ECHR articles or related rights

The Supreme Court did not rely on Art 47 CFREU as a legal basis for accepting the rights of the party (intervener) in the proceedings, but rather as a negative demarcation line in order to support its conclusion that accepting the consumer association's position as an intervener in the proceedings for order of payment is not required. On the basis of the CJEU's judgment C-470/12, the Supreme Court concluded that Art 47 CFREU does not guarantee the access to court to consumer associations as interveners.

Relevant principles applied
  • Equivalence
  • Effectiveness
Principle of equivalence

Not allowing consumer associations to file opposition against an order for payment does not contravene the principle of equivalence. Situations within the scope of EU law are not treated differently in this respect from purely intra-state situations.

Principle of effectiveness

Not allowing consumer associations to file opposition against an order for payment does not contravene the principle of effectiveness. The consumers' rights are safeguarded by the provision. guaranteed by the Civil Procedure Code, which does not allow the court to issue an order for payment, when the underlying contract contains unfair terms.

Elements of judicial dialogue

Vertical dialogue type
  • Direct dialogue between CJEU/ECtHR and National court (out of preliminary reference procedure)
Cited CJEU
  • CJEU C-470/12, Pohotovost'
Dialogue techniques

Conform interpretation with EU law as interpreted by the CJEU.

Purposes of using judicial dialogue

To solve a conflict between different trends of national caselaw.

Additional notes on the decision

Impact on legislation/policy

In the new Civil Procedure Code (effective from 1st July 2016), a third party (including consumer associations) may intervene only with the main party's consent.

Impact on national case law

Generally followed by lower courts – oppositions filed by consumer associations were rejected accordingly.

Case author

Judge Michal Novotný, Regional Court in Trnava (Slovakia)

Published by Chiara Patera on 15 October 2019