On 31 July 2015 the president signed an act amending, inter alia, the Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure. The purpose of the amendment is, among other objectives, to facilitate the work of courts and enhance access to justice. The above is to take place owing to the digitalisation of the process and wider application of new technologies.
The most important changes include:
- the introduction of a rule according to which despite the fact that a party has submitted an application for excluding a judge, until the application is considered such judge may undertake all actions regarding a given case, e.g. hold trials, hear witnesses. The judge only cannot conclude proceedings, i.e. for example issue judgments. If the judge is subsequently excluded, the actions carried out thereby will be considered as non-existing unless they were urgent and undertaking them could not have been postponed;
- the possibility of summoning parties, witnesses and experts to appear at trials otherwise than through formal letters if the court deems it necessary to accelerate the case and has no doubts as to the fact that the summons were received by the addressee; the court may choose such manner as it deems purposeful, i.e., for example, contacting a given person on the phone or via e-mail;
- the possibility of recognising a case at a closed session, without the presence of the parties, if following the submission of pleadings by the parties the court determines that a trial is not necessary; however, the court will be unable to do so if a party in its first pleading applies for a trial;
- introducing a rule according to which pleadings are to be delivered to entrepreneurs entered into the Central Register and Information on Business (i.e. to those that carry out sole proprietorship business activity) to the address indicated therein. Prior to the amendment, pleadings had to be delivered to an address of residence that was not disclosed in the register which often led to difficulties in effective delivery;
The amendment also introduces further computerisation of the process by such actions as:
- introducing a possibility for an electronic submission of pleadings and for courts to use electronic deliveries also in traditional proceedings (previously it was only possible in selected electronic proceedings). The above is to be effected by means of the “electronic registry office” application. Courts have 3 years to technically prepare themselves to such changes, upon the lapse of this period all courts will have to ensure a possibility for the parties to submit pleadings electronically;
- the possibility to hold a trial via videoconference between court buildings – this will allow the parties, witnesses and other persons to participate in a trial remotely;
- introducing a possibility to confirm the delivery of court correspondence not only by means of a traditional confirmation slip but also by means of a post operator sending information about such delivery to the court in electronic form. Such solution is to eliminate the courts’ long waiting period for confirmation slips and the problem of lost confirmation slips.
All the above changes are likely to make the process less formal and to accelerate the recognition of cases by courts as well as to make the judiciary friendlier for entrepreneurs using new technologies.
At present, the act is awaiting publication in the Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw), and will enter into force 12 months following its announcement in order to provide sufficient time for parties, attorneys and courts to prepare for such changes.
Text of an act amending the Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure. (Polish version only)