A step towards the digitalisation of court operations?

A step towards the digitalisation of court operations?

Author: Žiga Novak

The Slovenian Civil Procedure Act (ZPP) and Criminal Procedure Act (ZKP) have provided some possibilities for electronic operations between parties or their representatives and the courts for some time. However, given the rapid technological development of today’s society, the electronic operations have in practice not yet had the opportunity to come to life to the extent that they could have.

In general, ZPP allows a party to submit an application in an electronic form, which is considered to be equivalent to the application in a physical form. However, the currently (still) valid rules governing electronic operations in civil court procedures stipulate that the rules on the use of the e-justice portal and on the submission of electronic applications through the e-justice portal, are only used in cases when this is specifically provided or enabled. For example, an application through the e-justice portal can be filed in insolvency, enforcement and land registry proceedings. In certain cases, submitting the application electronically is even mandatory.

With the beginning of 2021, the newly adopted Rules on electronic operations in civil court proceedings and in criminal proceedings will enter into force and significantly expand the scope of electronic operations. From the entry of new Rules into force, electronic operations will no longer be limited to specific types of civil proceedings, but they will apply all civil proceedings, unless the provisions of other regulations governing a particular type or group of civil proceedings provide otherwise. As indicated by their name, the Rules will also apply in criminal matters.

The electronic operations of parties or their representatives and courts will on one hand undoubtedly contribute to the reduction of time of resolving cases, reduce administrative burdens (which will be welcomed by the court staff and law firm employees), as well as eliminate printing of sometimes hundreds of pages of evidence in the required number of copies; i.e. in a sufficient number of copies for all parties to the proceedings and one copy for the court.

However, it should also be pointed out that this change will not be implemented overnight, as the key provisions of the Rules allowing electronic filing of applications through the e-justice repository will only enter into force once the technical conditions for their application have been met. The Minister responsible for justice must notify the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia about the fulfilment of these conditions no later than two years after the entry of the Rules into force. It is a general expectation that the technical conditions will be met as soon as possible, and that the Minister responsible for justice will send the notification to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia earlier than in two years.