Claiming debts in Europe will get easier

DOES A publisher elsewhere in the European Union owe you money? It should get easier to recover it - from January 2009. That's when an EU-wide Small Claims Court system is due to start work.

Generally, you will be able to do the whole thing in writing, avoiding the need to travel to Madrid or Munich to claim. If the court decides it needs an oral hearing, it's encouraged to use videoconferencing. You won't need a lawyer, and you will be able to have a non-lawyer adviser. It will cover copyright claims. There are two gotchas. The court will only handle claims up to EUR 2000 (currently £1355). So invoice early and invoice often.

And for some reason Denmark has opted out. The Danish Union tells the International Federation of Journalists that there is an agreement among all the Nordic unions to help members make claims in each others' countries.

The Dansk Journalistforbund also has a cooperation agreement with the German Union DJV regarding copyright infringements. It would be nice to see such agreements extended to IFJ member unions outside the EU.

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