Parliament and Council negotiators reached an agreement to make access to justice faster, cheaper and more user-friendly for EU citizens and businesses.
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.
Main elements of the agreement:
- Courts will be able to exchange documents electronically: 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;
- Data protection: 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;
- Increased use of distance communication: modern communication technologies, such as videoconferencing, that can lower costs and help evidence to be taken more quickly, will be used appropriately and with the consent of the person to be heard.
Greater legal certainty, combined with simple and digitalised procedures, will encourage individuals and businesses to engage in cross-border transactions, thereby boosting trade within the EU, and hence the functioning of the internal market.
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.
The two proposals constitute a package to modernise judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters and replace the earlier international, more cumbersome system of the Hague Conventions between the member states.
The existing regulation on the service of documents puts in place a fast-track and standardised transmission procedure for the service of documents between courts and other parties in different EU countries. The regulation on taking evidence provides a framework for cross-border judicial assistance between EU countries by facilitating the collection of evidence across borders. (source: european parliament/photo: pixabay)