The COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on civil proceedings: where do things stand?

Law Decree No. 137 of 2020, which entered into force on October 29, 2020 and was issued following the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks, fully confirmed previous measures aimed at enhancing the use of technology in civil proceedings.

Through December 31, 2020, judges can order hearings to take place via exchange of written briefs in lieu of the parties’ presence. The written briefs will be filed via the electronic systems of the Ministry of Justice. In a case where the judge orders this to take place, each party has five days to object.

Further, any party’s counsel can file a motion at least 15 days prior to the hearing, requesting that the judge authorize him/her to participate in the hearing via videoconferencing systems. Finally, with both parties’ authorization, the judge can schedule the hearing to take place via videoconference.

The government also confirmed that all briefs and documents shall be filed via the Ministry of Justice’s electronic system. Similarly, court fees must also be paid online.

Additionally, on October 15 of this year, the Court of Cassation, the Ministry of Justice, and the National Bar Association executed a protocol that will lead to making filings before the Court of Cassation authorized only via the electronic system.

During the ongoing pandemic, innovation and modernization of the judicial system has continued apace, and these changes also offer cost and time benefits.

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