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Electronic services for citizens – an international conference under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice

On the initiative of the Ministry of Justice, Polish and foreign experts met in Warsaw at a two-day (12-13 December) international conference entitled “Standards and best practice in the field of e-services in public administration”. The participants discussed mainly IT solutions which streamline the administration of justice. They also shared their experiences in this respect.

The meeting was attended by Łukasz Piebiak, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Justice, Karol Okoński, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Digitization, and Olav Aasen, Deputy Director of the Norwegian Courts Administration – a partner institution of the Ministry of Justice in the implementation of the program “Building institutional potential and cooperation in the area of the administration of justice/Improving the effectiveness of the administration of justice”.

The conference was also attended by, among others, representatives of the National Public Prosecutor’s Office, judges, as well as guests from Romania and Lithuania who presented the most interesting IT solutions implemented in judicial institutions in these countries.

Common goal

- We are discussing an issue which is extremely important in the context of technology development, namely computerization of services rendered by the judiciary. For years, we have been cooperating and sharing experiences in the framework of Norwegian funds in many areas of the administration of justice, as well as with respect to IT solutions. I hope that this cooperation will be continued in the coming years – said Łukasz Piebiak, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Justice, opening the conference.

- We all have one common goal – to make state-of-the-art technologies streamline the daily tasks performed by public administration and courts. With the projects implemented by us the administration of justice is becoming more efficient and more friendly to citizens. Greater transparency of the state’s functioning is yet another advantage – added the Deputy Minister.

Mr. Olav Aasen thanked for inviting him to the conference and encouraged the participants to engage in a fruitful discussion and to share experiences.

As emphasized during the meeting, computerization, digitization and e-services are challenges of the 21st century which also by the judiciary has to face. This is not, however, about using the latest IT solutions, but developing systems to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of legal institutions’ performance, while being simple and citizen-friendly. The Ministry of Justice has experience in the successful implementation of a number of such systems.

Electronic land and mortgage registers

New regulations on electronic land and mortgage proceedings entered into force on 1 July 2016. Under these regulations notaries, court executive officers and heads of tax offices, acting as enforcement authorities, file applications for entry in the land and mortgage register via an IT system called Electronic Land and Mortgage Registers. Introduction of this system greatly facilitates the work of courts, as part of the data contained in the application can be automatically transferred to the land and mortgage register, and the application forwarded to the court is formalized and structured. So far, the application was formulated in an arbitrary way as part of a notarial deed. After the application was filed with the court, changes were supposed to be identified and entered in the land and mortgage register.

The Electronic Land and Mortgage Registers system increases the reliability of trade in real property. When the traditional method of making entries in land and mortgage registers prevailed, sometimes three or four days passed from the conclusion of an agreement on sale of real property and preparation of a notarial deed to making a relevant entry in the land and mortgage register. This meant that the real property could be traded even several times. The Electronic Land and Mortgage Registers system prevents this pathology. It also facilitates and accelerates the work of courts by introducing mechanisms for transferring data from electronic applications and electronic services. The ability to quickly obtain current information on issues relating to land and mortgage registers without having to resort to courts is yet another advantage.
Since the implementation of the system, as many as almost half a million applications for entry in electronic land and mortgage proceedings have been filed.

e-Payments

To meet the expectations of citizens, the Ministry of Justice will launch an e-Payments platform through which they will be able to pay any court fees. From 1 January 2017, it will be possible to pay through the e-Payments platform a court fee for a claim (an application), an office fee (e.g. for the delivery of a copy of a judgment) and buy a court fee stamp in electronic form.

The court fee stamp in the new form will be a numerical barcode (consisting of 14 Arab digits), corresponding to the notation in the e-Payments system database. Any denomination of the stamp will be possible. The system safeguards enable using an electronic court fee stamp only once. It will be possible to validate it only once.

The stamp will be available to be bought both in the cash desk in the court and at: www.oplaty.ms.gov.pl. Court fee stamps in the traditional form will be valid until their stocks have been used up; no longer, however, than by 30 June 2018.
e-Payments will ultimately be used to pay for all sorts of services – e.g. the Electronic Land and Mortgage Register, the National Court Register or the National Criminal Register.

Using e-Payments will result in tangible benefits for citizens as well as courts and the state budget. Dues will be paid faster and easier. Courts will no longer have to pay for printing and distributing court fee stamps, while automatic booking of payments will accelerate court proceedings.

Electronic protocol

As part of the project entitled “Implementation of an Electronic Protocol in Civil and Delinquency Cases” pursued by the Ministry of Justice, hearings in 2,267 courtrooms in all courts of appeal and regional courts are being recorded. e-Protocol has been implemented also in the district courts of appeal in Wrocław, Białystok, Warsaw, Łódź, Krakow and Gdańsk (183 courts). So far, the electronic protocol has been implemented in as many as 239 courts throughout Poland. Over 1,500 courtrooms have been furnished with equipment enabling court videoconferences to take evidence on a remote basis.
More than 14 thousand system users have been trained and over 2.4 million hearings have already been recorded (75 thousand hearings a month on average).

The Ministry of Justice is also one of the leaders of an EU project aimed at promoting the use of videoconferences in cross-border proceedings, i.e. ones in which the parties come from at least two countries.

The electronic protocol has numerous advantages, as it:
• accelerates the process of adjudicating and makes it more efficient;
• reduces the duration of hearings;
• provides for hearing of witnesses and parties on a remote basis with the use of videoconference terminals;
• provides for presenting evidence in electronic form;
• fully embodies the principle of transparency of proceedings;
• accurately reflects the course of the hearing by recording statements uttered by the parties, which eliminates controversies as to the actual course of the hearing and problems relating to correcting the court minutes;
• enhances discipline in the courtroom.

File digitization system

The electronic protocol is connected with another system – that of digitization of files in preparatory proceedings, i.e. their transcribing, collecting, processing and sharing in digital form. The project is being implemented by the National Public Prosecutor’s Office. Its main objective is to provide files in electronic form to citizens who are a party to preparatory proceedings conducted by the prosecution, i.e. those aggrieved, attorneys, defenders and suspects. The system enables also efficient sharing of data with law enforcement agencies and the judiciary. The File Digitization System has a number of advantages:
• saving time of citizens by reducing time of waiting to gain access to files in preparatory proceedings;
• saving costs associated with obtaining photocopies and copies of paper files;
• saving costs of escorting arrested individuals to files reading rooms in public prosecutor’s offices (the arrested can inspect files in electronic form at the place of detention);
• increased efficiency of operations performed by the prosecutor’s office by saving time needed to prepare files to be shares.

Over 44 thousand volumes of files in 3,760 cases have already been digitized. Currently, the National Public Prosecutor’s Office is implementing a project entitled “Development of a System for Digitization of Files in Preparatory Proceedings (iSDA)”, co-financed from the European Regional Development Fund.

Electronic court register

Since 2009, citizens have been able to file electronically through a dedicated website an application for entry into the National Court Register, change to the entry or removal from the National Court Register to each of the thirty courts of registration. The website enables also filing electronically financial statements with a court of registration, as well as an application to the Central Information of the National Court Register for access to data from the register.

Another website which has been launched enables free access to information stored in the National Court Register, updated on a weekly basis, which can be searched and printed. A printout generated via the website has legal force under a relevant act. It is also possible to verify the authenticity of the printout.

Another website, available since 2014, enables the formation of a limited liability company, a registered partnership or a limited partnership, as well as filing a request for its entry with a court of registration. Articles of association of a company formed through the website do not require a notarial deed, and the request for entry into the National Court Register is examined within one day.

The National Court Register is integrated with the Universal Electronic System of Population Register (PESEL), the Central Register of Taxpayers (CRP KEP), the National Business Register (REGON) and the National Criminal Register (KRK). This integration allows for preserving consistency of data in the various registers, and in the case of the National Court Register, it enables effective elimination from companies’ bodies of those convicted or banned from holding positions in them.

Moreover, thanks to the integration of the KRS, CRP KEP and REGON registers, an operator that has been entered in the National Court Register is almost immediately assigned a taxpayer identification number (TIN) and a number in the National Business Register (REGON) required to start operation, with no need to submit separate requests for entry in these registers.

Work is underway now on the development of a Business Registers Interconnection System (BRIS) in EU countries. Integration of the National Court Register with BRIS will make it easier for foreign contractors to obtain cross-border access to data and documents of Polish companies,

Electronic archives and e-Appointments

The Ministry of Justice is implementing, with the support of Norwegian Funds, a project entitled “Archival Information Centers for General Courts – Judicial Records Management System” to develop a modern uniform system for court records management. Priority is given to registration files stored in general courts. The system provides for uninterrupted access to these files, thereby enhancing ongoing work of courts, while the e-Appointments system, using electronic communication, streamlines and accelerates the flow – between the courts, the Ministry of Justice and the National Council of the Judiciary of Poland – of documents relating to the appointment of a general court judge.

Department of Communication and Promotion
MoJ Poland

Documents to download (presentations of the speakers are numbered according to the conference program):

Programme of the IT conference

Presentation No 1

Presentation No 3

Presentation No 5

Presentation No 7

Presentation No 8

Presentation No 9

Presentation No 10

Presentation No 11

Presentation No 12

Presentation No 13

Presentation No 14

Presentation No 15

Fot. MoJ Poland