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Holidaymakers who buy faulty goods abroad could soon be able to apply for compensation in the UK under EU plans.

The scheme put forward by the European Union seeks to speed up and simplify the process by which people can make low-value claims between member states.

Consumers will be able to seek redress of up to 2,000 euros (£1,333) via post, rather than having to visit a court.

The European Small Claims Procedure (ESCP) is aimed at helping tourists, travellers and small businesses.

Cathy Ashton, Minister at the Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA), said the scheme "should make life easier for consumers and businesses alike in resolving cross-border disputes".

However, the UK government - which has launched a consultation on the proposals - is seeking to raise the amount of compensation allowed above the current proposed 2,000 euro limit.

Legal battle

Ruth Bamford, director of the UK division of the European Consumer Council (ECC), welcomed the planned scheme.

The ECC provides advice to consumers with cross-border problems and seeks to help negotiate settlements between parties in different EU states.

If negotiation fails, the next option is to take legal action. However, Ms Bamford said that in reality this was "practically impossible" because of the legal complexities, language barriers and costs.

While many details of the ESCP have yet to be finalised, Ms Bamford said it was step in the right direction.

"There is a big gap in the ability to enforce consumer rights at the moment, and this is trying to fill it," she said.

From The BBC

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