The concept of e-litigation was first introduced in Indonesia with Supreme Court Regulation 3/2018,(1) the scope of which was largely confined to the electronic filing and service of documents, payment of court fees and internal case administration by the courts.
Following Regulation 3/2018, Chief Justice Muhammad Hatta Ali officially launched the country's new e-litigation system (known as the 'e-Court') during a ceremony in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on 13 July 2018.
The Supreme Court has now issued a new regulation (Regulation 1/2019, effective 19 August 2019),(2) which significantly expands the scope of the earlier regulation and envisages the eventual development of a full-blown electronic court system, meaning that proceedings can be commenced, court fees paid, documents and pleadings submitted, hearings conducted and judgments pronounced electronically. To ensure that this goal can be achieved, Regulation 1/2019 anticipates that evidentiary hearings (ie, hearings during which evidence is heard) will ultimately be capable of being conducted remotely by means of video conferencing. However, as the Supreme Court readily admits, it will be some time before this can be realised as a significant investment in the necessary technological infrastructure will be required.
For the time being, e-litigation services are available only for civil and administrative proceedings in the district courts, religious courts, administrative courts and military courts. Regulation 1/2019 also expands the scope of the e-litigation system to encompass the appellate, cassation and judgment-review levels, whereas previously, under Regulation 3/2009, it was restricted to proceedings at first instance.
Ali's Directive 129/KMA/VIII/2019 provides technical guidelines to support the implementation of Regulation 1/2019.(3)
At present, e-litigation services are confined to the:
- e-filing of documents (eg, claims and applications, powers of attorney and pleadings);
- e-payment of court fees;
- e-summons to hearings; and
- e-notification of judgments.
According to the e-Court website, e-litigation services are currently available in:
- all of the country's 382 district courts;
- 412 religious courts (including the shariah tribunals in Aceh province); and
- 30 administrative courts.
Up-to-date figures on the use of the system are unavailable. However, at the end of March 2019 it was reported that 208 cases in the district courts, 714 cases in the religious courts and 28 cases in the administrative courts had been filed online.
A firm timeframe for the roll-out of electronic evidentiary hearings has yet to be announced.
While the move towards the establishment of a comprehensive e-litigation system is to be commended, there are nevertheless several constraints that could hamper the process.
First, the fact that the consent of both parties (ie, plaintiff and defendant) is required before e-litigation services may be used could impede uptake as – from a psychological perspective – many defendants will likely be unwilling to accept anything that would make it easier for them to be sued.
There are also concerns over data security. Potential litigants – particularly businesses – may consider that the time and cost savings generated by e-litigation are outweighed by the dangers posed by entrusting confidential information to an external electronic system.
Another possible constraint is resistance from courtroom lawyers, some of whom will no doubt be concerned about the disruption to their established ways of doing things and the potential loss of income that e-litigation could cause.
Notwithstanding these potential obstacles, the Supreme Court will hopefully press ahead with its ongoing development of the e-litigation system. Not only will e-litigation result in considerable savings in terms of time and money for businesses that find themselves involved in legal disputes, it will also be of significant benefit to the general public in a country as large as Indonesia, where the geographical distance from physical court infrastructures often serves as a real impediment to justice.
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