Digitalisation of access to justice will benefit citizens

Parliament and Council negotiators reached last Tuesday an agreement to make access to justice faster, cheaper and more user-friendly for EU citizens and businesses, the EU press service reported. The two pieces of legislation under negotiation between the two EU legislators, respectively on taking evidence and on service of documents, aim to make judicial cross-border cooperation between national courts more efficient through digitalisation in civil and commercial matters.

“This agreement is a step forward in the European judicial area in civil matters, based on the principles of mutual trust and mutual recognition of judgments. It 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,” rapporteur Franco Roberti (S&D, IT) said.

Under the deal courts will be able to exchange documents electronically as changes in both regulations establish a decentralised IT system that will allow for faster, more secure and effective exchange of documents between member states. The decentralised IT system will be composed of national, interoperable IT systems, without involving any EU institutions. Information will be kept strictly confidential and personal data and privacy will be protected when documents are transmitted and evidence is being taken; personal data which is deemed irrelevant for a specific case will be deleted immediately.

Parliament and Council now need to endorse the final version of the agreement before it is published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The two regulations will enter into force 20 days following their publication.

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