On June 30, a webinar “Online Courts: A New Session Format” took place, during which SCHNEIDER GROUP experts talked about how online sessions are held, whether the rules of online litigation appeared in Ukraine and Kazakhstan in connection with the pandemic, and what are the main problems that can be faced when choosing the format of a court session online. We have selected the most popular questions from webinar participants and asked them to SCHNEIDER GROUP experts from Ukraine and Kazakhstan. We are sure that the answers will be useful for you.
Question 1: What is the electronic judicial office in your country, its functions, and advantages?
In Ukraine the function of the electronic judicial office is performed by the “Electronic court” and “Electronic cabinet” systems which are currently working in an experimental mode. This means that both electronic systems cover the majority of courts in Ukraine, but not all of them. Currently it is possible to utilize the functions of electronic justice in all the courts of first and appeal instances, Administrative Court of Cassation, and the Commercial Court of Cassation. The following functions are available at the moment:
- Online payment of court duties
- Tracking stages of the court cases
- Access to the Unified register of court decisions
- Delivery of court documents in electronic form
- Provision of court notifications via SMS
- Publication of information in insolvency cases
In order to use the services of electronic justice it is necessary for an individual to have a qualified electronic signature which is used for identification purposes and signing documents. It is also required to use the official e-mail address on the governmental server to exchange electronic correspondence.
It is planned to further extend the functionality of electronic court services, which seems to be an efficient method of simplifying court processes and increasing their safety in pandemic times.
The judicial office in Kazakhstan is an electronic information service which was launched in 2014. It serves as a window of access to online services of the judiciary, allows filing appeals to the courts electronically, paying state duties online, tracking the progress of the case, etc.
In order to submit the applications and complaints, the user should fill out the provided application form, upload scanned copies of the documents, and sign by electronic digital signature. Thus, there is no need for the physical presence of a person to submit claims to the relevant judicial authority. In addition, the users can track the status of the application and monitor the progress of the case.
Introduction of the judicial office has improved the level of public access to justice, as well as contributed to reduction of paper document flow in the judiciary.
Question 2: Are there any other problems that the judiciary faces during remote court hearings?
Taking into account the rapid launch of remote court hearings in Ukraine due to quarantine measures, there are several problems connected with technical equipment of the courts and a lack of experience by the participants. It seems that these problems will be solved after some time, as soon as the judicial system of Ukraine adapts to the new regime of work. At the same time, it was noted that the remote hearing mode itself could lead to violation of certain principles of justice, namely:
- Principle of respect to the court – as during the remote court it is quite difficult to control compliance with the various requirements set forth by this principle (appropriate attire, attention to the process, etc.).
- Principle of openness of the court hearing – as the possibility of non-participants in the court case to attend the hearing in remote mode is quite limited.
The practice of holding remote court hearings highlighted that interrogation of a witness can be quite problematic due to the following:
- In the course of remote hearing it is not possible to check the premises where a witness is located, therefore, no one can guarantee that an interrogated witness is no under pressure from someone;
- Identity of a witness cannot be checked in full, so that there is a risk that false replacement of a witness could take place.
In addition, some judges claim that during a remote court hearing, the monitor cannot give a full picture of emotional state of a participant, and judges cannot identify false testimonies that a participant might give.