From 1 July 2009, significant changes will be made to civil procedure to facilitate measures such as:
- audio or video recording of proceedings
- electronic service
- restrictions on new facts and evidence being introduced after the first court session, and
- preliminary hearings
At present, minutes of the proceedings are taken by the presiding judge or upon his/her dictate and issued by the court in paper form, usually several days or even weeks after the hearing. Consequently, they are often inaccurate.
Accurate and complete accounts of all future court hearings will be ensured through the use of audio or video recording equipment. Although this should begin from 1 July 2009, paper minutes can still be issued in certain situations (eg if the recording device breaks down or the court room is not yet equipped with recording devices).
The changes aim to prevent parties from obstructing proceedings by refusing to receive the summons. Companies are required to have a licensed data box for electronic service of court documents. Individuals may also do set up data boxes but, if they do not do so, they can be served with paper documents by delivery to the mail address they have provided or, failing that, to their permanent residence.
Service will be valid even if the party is not present to receive the documents, unless their absence was due to hospitalisation or other adequate and recognised reason.
New facts and evidence
The changes require all new facts and new evidence to be filed by the end of the first court session in the case (although exceptions will apply). Currently, parties may state new facts and submit evidence practically at any stage of the first instance proceedings.
Courts will be able to order a preliminary hearing to enable them so that they can collect sufficient facts and proposals on evidence from the parties to be able to decide the dispute at the first session.
Where a preliminary hearing is ordered, all facts and evidence must be introduced by the end of the hearing (although exceptions will apply).
Claims will be decided in the plaintiff's favour when the defendant fails to attend the preliminary hearing or the first session without an appropriate excuse. Similarly, claims will be refused and the proceedings will be ended if the plaintiff fails to attend the preliminary hearing or the first session without an appropriate excuse.
Law: Act no. 7/2009 Coll. amending Act no. 99/1963 Coll., Civil Procedure Code
This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service. To register for Law-Now, please go to www.law-now.com/law-now/mondaq
Law-Now information is for general purposes and guidance only. The information and opinions expressed in all Law-Now articles are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to give professional or legal advice. All Law-Now information relates to circumstances prevailing at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments.
The original publication date for this article was 17/06/2009.