Bill on Full Digitization of Civil Court Records Goes to Riigikogu | New
While the full digitization of criminal cases is also continuing separately, the aim is for all court hearings to be fully digitized by 2026.
While until now court files were stored both on paper and digitally in parallel, in future only the digital version will have legal value, while paper files will no longer be written anyway.
Justice Minister Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa) said the transition to a digital file will speed up the court process and make it more convenient for all participants in the proceedings.
The Minister said: “The digitization of court proceedings and the transition to digital records in civil and administrative cases is an important step in the development of the Estonian e-state, and was preceded by long and comprehensive preparatory work. .
“The courts have been preparing for the transition to a paperless procedure since 2017 – the corresponding software has been developed and new work processes have been practiced,” she continued.
“However, the ability to communicate with a court on paper will remain in place. When paper documents arrive, which is happening less and less frequently, they will be scanned and added to the files of the court information system.”
This decision will also make things clearer, more streamlined – given that there are sometimes differences between county courts and district courts in terms of the difference between paper and digital – and save money. money, added the Minister, noting that all parties to the proceedings and the courts can consult a file simultaneously, in the case of digital files.
Digitalization in general has made the Estonian judiciary very resilient to crises, as evidenced by the Covid pandemic, when court proceedings continued at their previous pace, while in many countries the work of courts was disrupted, often seriously.
The procedure will also serve as an example for other countries and is part of Estonia’s general status as an electronic pioneer state.
The transition to digital-only files in criminal cases will also follow.
“There is already a draft amendment to the Criminal Code under the Riigikogu process which creates a legal basis for digital procedure in criminal cases,” the minister added.
Estonia has been named a pioneer in the field of digitization of courts In a study conducted by the Nordic Council of Ministers this year, a comparative study recently published by the Council of Europe, the Digitization Index of the Estonian Judicial System is 9.79 on a ten-point scale, i.e. close to the maximum.
Around 27% of civil and administrative cases were handled without a paper file in 2019, while around 38% of all proceedings recorded in the court information system in 2020. Last year, the proportion of digital files had increased 53% in civil cases and 63% in administrative cases.