As of 1 July 2016, an amendment to Act III of 1952 on the Code
of Civil Procedure ("Act") came into
force introducing the possibility – sometimes the obligation
– to communicate with the courts electronically.
It was high time that technical innovations in litigation
matters be introduced, since all communication was previously
paper-based. In other words, all legal documents worked on had to
be printed out (with as many copies required for the number of
parties to the procedure, plus one extra as a reserve).
Additionally, each copy had to be signed before sending them via
post to the relevant court. This was naturally time consuming,
expensive, and resulted in extra (unnecessary) paperwork.
The amendment to the Act marks the end to this outdated system
and marks the beginning of 21st century administration and
communication in litigation matters. Part 7 of the Act stipulates
the rules for using electronic communication in civil actions.
How are these reforms expected to change court procedures?
Instead of outdated paper-based
communications, court submissions can now be sent electronically
through two electronic methods developed for this purpose. The
first is through an application developed whereby a specific form
is completed electronically (eg a statement of claim, a statement
of defence etc.), and annexes are attached if there are in fact
any. The documents are then verified with an electronic signature.
Within the same application, the document is then marked as being
ready to file.
In order to file this verified and
electronically signed document at the competent court, a separate
account is needed – an online platform – dedicated to
sending and receiving files in court actions. Having logged into
the attorney-at-law's account the specific document can be sent
to the competent court. After sending the document, an automated
message will be received indicating whether the document has been
successfully submitted or not. Additionally, this online platform
is also dedicated to receiving the other party's submissions or
the court's resolutions linked to the specific matter.
With the new electronic channels, the
rules of delivery and the presumption of service have also changed.
The document is presumed to be delivered five days after the
delivery to the attorney-at-law's dedicated online platform, no
matter whether you have downloaded the delivered document from the
platform or not. Additionally, 30 days after the document's
delivery, the platform automatically deletes them. So, should you
happen to be away or are not in a position to check the platform
for more than 30 days, all documents you had received during this
period will have been deleted without having had the chance to read
them, and importantly, such deleted documents will be presumed to
have been delivered. In order to prevent this from happening, the
online platform allows you to give access to other colleagues to
download documents on your behalf. The worst case scenario would be
that you would still have the ability to visit the court personally
to examine the court file.
Now that the 'how' part is cleared up, who, when and in
which court cases can one communicate electronically? For any other
case not listed below, electroniccommunication is optional, meaning
that the party is free to choose between electronic or paper-based
Who? Any party being
a business organisation, or being represented by an attorney-at-law
is required to communicate through electronic means.
When? From 1 July
2016 onwards. Thus, electronic communication in ongoing litigation
matters is not a must but is optional.
Which court cases?
Cases covering the broader scope of civil actions including
litigation matters for damages claims, matrimonial proceedings,
administrative actions, and actions for overturning a notary's
resolution in actions in rem, etc. Note that only those
cases initiated after 1 July 2016 are subject to mandatory
The introduction of electronic communication and filing may
initially sound complicated, but it is expected to make court
procedures cheaper, quicker and far easier going forward. A
positive introduction indeed!
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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