Electronic Justice (e-Justice)

The action plan of the Council for the European electronic justice 2009-2013, which was established in November 2008, aims at the improvement of access to justice and justice given. It sets as an object the creation of a portal for the European electronic justice and it recognizes that the information technology and communication can contribute decisively in the improvement of the function of  justice systems, given the fact that they can facilitate the everyday practice of the legal professions and will promote the cooperation between the legal authorities.
Citizens can get answers on how the 27 Member -States' legal systems function. They can get quick answers when dealing with real-life events such as divorce, death, litigation or even moving house. They can find a legal practitioner in another country, learn how to avoid costly court cases through mediation, where to bring a lawsuit, which Member State's law applies in cases and whether they are eligible for legal aid.
Lawyers, notaries and judges can have access to legal databases, contact colleagues through judicial networks and find information on judicial training. They also find information on arranging cross-border videoconferences;
Businesses will find links to insolvency and property registers and information about the laws that apply and about cross-border proceedings.
Language barriers – which often complicate getting this information – are overcome by offering information in all official EU languages. The website’s contents are available in 22 official EU languages. The website’s links will direct users to national information of Member States.
The involvement of judges and legal practitioners - notaries, lawyers, bailiffs and mediators - is essential to the success of the portal and several projects are underway. For example, work is ongoing on a European Case-Law Identifier (ECLI) to facilitate access to national and EU case law in the cross-border context.
The Commission, which manages the site, will continue to work closely with Member States to progressively enrich its content and develop new functionalities.
Next steps
Today's launch is the first step in developing a multilingual portal that can make life easier for citizens, businesses and practitioners in Europe.
New information, tools and functions will be added to the portal in the next few years. Fact sheets on defendants' rights and victims' rights in all EU Member States will be available in early 2011, including, for example, information on how road traffic offences are dealt with in different countries. These fact sheets will serve as a basic reference tool for legal practitioners as well as citizens.
Future versions of the portal will also make existing EU justice tools more effective, allowing a citizen to make a cross-border small claim or payment order online. Businesses will also benefit from lower costs thanks to simpler, streamlined online legal procedures once insolvency registers, business registers and land registers are accessible via the portal. Courts would be able to deal with cross-border requests online and communicate with the claimants and defendants in a particular case as well as with courts in other Member States.
Work is already underway to ensure that by 2013 there will be a tool allowing citizens