First of its kind
According to the paper "Doing Business 2015", published by the World Bank in October 2014, 19 out of 189 economic bodies worldwide have allowed electronic commencement of litigation. In order to maintain Taiwan's competitiveness, as well as to promote a paperless office, the Judicial Yuan has actively made plans for an e-filing system for litigation since 2014 (open testing was conducted for over a month at the end of 2014). Following feedback from the tests, the Judicial Yuan conducted another large-scale test in June 2015, gathering trial opinions from major law firms and making adjustments to the system accordingly. After testing, adjustments and confirmation, the Judicial Yuan finally declared the system open on July 20 2015 in a grand ceremony.
As the e-filing system is the first of its kind to be used in Taiwan, cases accepted after its launch on July 20 2015 are limited to IP-related administrative litigation. It was used for tax-related administrative cases in September 2015, and from August 2016 has covered civil litigation at first and second instances in ordinary courts. Coverage will continue to be gradually expanded over time.
Litigation can be instituted in IP-related administrative litigations using the e-filing system. In the majority of cases, the defendant will be the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO), which has indicated that it will cooperate with the system's usage. Once a plaintiff commences litigation through the system, a certified copy of its statement of claim would be deemed to have been served on TIPO. Once the plaintiff completes the e-filing of a complaint, the plaintiff would not need to deliver any original or certified duplicate copies to the IP Court. Simultaneously, TIPO will file its defence online through the system. If there are other participants in the case and they engage counsel, the judge handling the matter will encourage the counsel to use the system, so that the participants' defences and submissions can be delivered through it. Further, the Judicial Yuan has stressed that the system is limited only to the exchange of submissions and exhibits between the litigants; all letters issued by the court to them would continue to be in paper form. Finally, the IP Court will publish the Regulations of the Intellectual Property Court on Electronic Litigation system for Intellectual Property-Related Administration Litigation, which will serve as the regulatory basis for the system.
At present, the system is available for use only by counsel and patent attorneys. Thus, if a litigant has no legal representation, it would be unable to use the system. Nevertheless, since counsel and patent attorneys are often engaged in administrative litigation cases, it can be expected that the system will be widely used and that it will significantly improve efficiency of litigation work and reduce the production of paper documents, thereby achieving the dual purpose of promoting environmental protection and the economy.
For further information on this topic please contact Katherine Juang at Lee and Li Attorneys at Law by telephone (+886 2 2715 3300) or email ([email protected]). The Lee and Li website can be accessed at www.leeandli.com.