Digitalising and modernising judicial cooperation: Council endorses provisional agreement reached with the European Parliament on service of documents and taking of evidence

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today, the Council endorsed the provisional agreement reached with European Parliament on 30 June, on the European Commission’s amended regulations for the service of documents and the taking of evidence abroad.

Vĕra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency and Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice and Consumers said: “The Commission welcomes today’s endorsement which takes us one big step closer to adopting major rules modernising the way civil and commercial matters work. This is excellent news for the growing number of EU citizens who settle in another EU country and businesses operating in other EU countries. The new rules on the service of documents and taking of evidence will boost the uptake of IT and the digitalisation in civil and commercial matters. They will make cross-border judicial proceedings faster and more efficient, giving citizens better access to justice and a fair trial, and will facilitate the work of legal practitioners. The experience with the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of digitalisation of justice, including when it comes to cross-border proceedings. These rules are an important step in this direction.”

Background

These two Commission proposals, put forward in May 2018, are aimed at modernising and digitalising judicial cooperation in cross-border civil and commercial cases throughout the EU and making access to civil justice cheaper, more efficient and more accessible to citizens and businesses.

The transmission of documents and requests between Member States must be fast and safe. Once in place, the new rules regarding the service of documents will mean in practice that transmission will mandatorily take place via an electronic decentralised IT system, composed of interconnected national IT systems. Member States will have the possibility to use reference software developed by the EU, instead of a nationally-developed IT system.

Regarding the taking of evidence, the new rules promote the use of videoconferencing or any other distance communication technology where a witness, party or expert located in another Member State must be heard.

The EU justice agenda for 2020 stressed that in order to enhance mutual trust between Member States’ justice systems, the need to reinforce civil procedural rights should be examined, for example as regards the service of documents. The aim of improving the framework of judicial cooperation within the EU is also in line with the objectives set out by the Commission in the digital single market strategy: In the context of e-government, the strategy expresses the need for more action to modernise public (including judicial) administration, achieve cross-border interoperability and facilitate easy interaction with citizens.

The agreed legislative proposals will update the Regulations on Service of documents and on Taking of evidence.

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