Digitalising cross-border judicial cooperation

Briefing 12-02-2024

On 23 November 2023, the European Parliament approved the compromise reached with the Council in July 2023 on the European Commission proposal for a horizontal regulation on digitalisation of judicial cooperation and access to justice, intended to apply to both civil and criminal cross-border proceedings within the EU. The regulation, proposed back in December 2021, will supplement horizontally, rather than replace, existing rules on the digital delivery of documents, digital hearings and other uses of information technology for cross-border judicial cooperation. In principle, Member States' competent judicial or other authorities will be obliged to use digital channels of communication; for individuals, their use would be optional. The co-legislators' changes to the original proposal include: i) modifications to the definitions, including a new definition of 'videoconferencing' and a modified definition of 'competent authority'; ii) specification of situations where alternative means of communication may be used; iii) the possibility to use a decentralised system also between national authorities of one country; iv) better protection of private parties' rights; (v) detailed rules on consent to use electronic means for hearing in criminal matters; and vi) a new rule on training of justice professionals. The regulation, published in the Official Journal of the EU on 27 December 2023, will apply from 1 May 2025. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.