Digital justice saves citizens and businesses time, money

Parliament adopted new rules that allow requests for evidence to be transmitted fast and reliably between EU courts

Photo: EP Emil Radev.

Courts across Europe can be able to exchange documents electronically and access to justice can become swifter and easier for EU citizens and businesses. This is possible through two recast regulations approved by the Parliament on Monday.

One of them is on the service of documents, to modernise cross-border exchanges between authorities through digitalisation and a second on the taking of evidence. The two regulations will enter into force 20 days after their publication in the EU Official Journal.

 

Modifications in both regulations establish a decentralised IT system that will allow for faster, more secure and effective exchange of documents between member states.

The objective of the two modified texts, agreed between Parliament and Council negotiators in June this year, is through digitalisation to make judicial cross-border cooperation between national courts faster, more secure and effective and access to justice more efficient.

Amendments made in the two regulations establish among other things the use of mandatory decentralised IT system that is composed of interoperable national IT systems, to exchange documents electronically cross-border, allowing for quicker, more protected and effective exchange of documents between EU courts.

The use of videoconferencing is also promoted in the updated rules, as to allow a party or witness to be heard online when they based in another country. As for transmitting documents and evidence, they will become faster and safer, and will better protect personal data and privacy.

Emil Radev, Bulgarian MEP from EPP/GERB, rapporteur for Cooperation between the courts: taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters, said that the adopted provisions would have a real impact on the everyday lives of the European citizens.

According to him the new regulation will make cross-border judicial cooperation between national courts more effective. In 2018 alone, such cooperation took place in roughly 3.4 million civil and commercial cases.

“The provisions will significantly speed up court proceedings and reduce unjustified costs drastically, saving European citizens and enterprises both time and money”, Radev emphasised.

MEPs also underlined that bigger legal certainty, complemented with simple and digitalised procedures, will encourage individuals and businesses to engage in cross-border transactions, thus boosting trade within the EU and the functioning of the internal market at large.

Italian S&D MEP Franco Roberti, rapporteur for Service of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters, commented that the regulation removes administrative obstacles and offers legal certainty to citizens and businesses that documents have the same legal effects in any EU court. This was not an easy task, given the plurality of legal systems and traditions that coexist within the EU, he added.

The Commission tabled in May 2018 the two revamped regulations that update the Regulations on Service of documents and Taking of evidence.

The regulation on the Service of documents of 2008 has put in place a fast-track and standardised transmission procedure for the service of documents between courts and other parties in different EU countries. The legal act of 2004 on Taking of evidence that applies directly at the national level, provides a framework for cross-border judicial assistance between EU countries by facilitating the collection of evidence across borders. 

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