On 1 November 2013, the new Slovak act on the electronic performance of powers of public authorities – the Act on e-Government  (“Act”) – will come into force. As the general legislation for the entire public administration, judiciary included, the Act brings new ways of exercising public authority electronically and introduces electronic delivery, guaranteed conversion of documents, and electronic payment of all administrative and court fees. Nevertheless, these fundamental changes will be implemented gradually
The guiding principle of the new Act is the obligation of public authorities to exercise public power electronically. Other institutions and persons have the option, but not the obligation, to communicate with public authorities electronically. In mutual communication, the Act applies a principle that is also applied in the Czech Republic: the public authority is prohibited from requiring data and facts that are known to this public authority from its official activities or are contained in another public register (e.g. commercial register, trade register, land registry, etc.). The Act also contains the necessary legislation on personal identification, authentication and authorisation, and the legislation on reference registers. Under the Act, the computerisation of public administration shall occur gradually over the next three years.
The Data Boxes (i.e., the official email-style system for the delivery of documents) will be established and activated first for the public authorities no later than by the end of January 2014. For the private sector, it is planned for mid-2015, when the Data Boxes will be obligatorily activated for all legal entities and branches with their registered seat in Slovakia. Persons over 18 years and individual entrepreneurs may establish a Data Box voluntarily.
Over time, the public authorities will be able to deliver to legal entities almost exclusively in electronic form. Regular messages will be delivered on the day after the message is uploaded to the Data Box. Messages that need confirmation of delivery must be confirmed by the addressee before the message is opened; the message is regarded as having been delivered following this confirmation. For messages into own hands of the addressee there is a legal fiction of delivery by the 15th day of the uploading of such message to the Data Box. If alternative delivery is impossible (it is prohibited by a special act), the fiction of 15 days will not be applied and the public authority must repeat the delivery.
The Act also introduces conversion, meaning the transfer of electronic documents into paper form and vice versa, or the transfer of electronic documents into another format by an authorised person. Conversion will be performed by public authorities, as well as by notaries and the post office. Attorneys will be able to convert all documents, except public charters.
The essential principle of conversion, which also applies in the Czech Republic, is that the converted document has the same legal effects as the original document. The same applies to public charters.
Payment of fees
The Act also provides the basic framework for facilitating the payment of court and administrative fees. Revenue stamps will be replaced by modern means of payment, including payment via bank transfer or credit card. The system counts on the involvement of banks, the post office and others.
The Act on e-Government provides a solid foundation for the further computerisation of public administration in Slovakia. Its implementation is only now getting underway and the fundamental shift can be expected after the activation of Data Boxes for legal entities and, especially, after the three-year transition period that ends at the close of 2016. The Act’s positive impacts include the termination of the legal vacuum in the conversion of documents and the introduction of more effective means of paying court and administrative fees by submission. Another advantage: facts and data that are already known to public authorities will no longer have to be proven.