- Elgar European Law series
Chapter 10: Access to Justice
THE CHALLENGE OF SECURING ACCESS TO JUSTICE In any system of consumer protection problems of securing effective access to justice loom large. Consumers are understandably reluctant to convert complaint into formal proceedings, especially where their loss is relatively small. Many consumers have only a limited grasp of the intricacies of the law. Taking legal action is in any event costly, slow and a source of stress. These problems are magnified in the cross-border environment. The detail of the law is likely to be even more unfamiliar, and the inhibitions to taking legal action all the greater. Creating an integrated market lies at the heart of EU’s objectives, but there is no intent to set aside the existence of different legal jurisdictions. This presents a challenge to the promotion of an effective system of access to justice for the consumer in Europe. Legal diversity between the Member States is reduced by the pattern of harmonization which provides the subject matter for much of this book. Although Harmonization Directives ought to act as a source of common consumer protection at national level, it is necessary to assess the effectiveness of the system for securing vindication of those legal rules. There are at least two separate elements to this inquiry. The first relates to the constitutional question of the extent to which Directives can create ‘rights’ on which individuals may rely before national courts. In so far as the Directive depends for its force within national legal orders on transposition by each Member...
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