What became a civil judge

Civil judges' day on digitization: Careful into the future of the ZPO

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More online procedures, more video technology: at the civil judges 'day, a judges' working group presented proposals for reforming the ZPO. The legal profession and science should now also discuss this - and then quickly become law.

E-files instead of mountains of paper, better access for citizens to civil justice and the use of video technology: at the virtual civil judges' day at the Nuremberg Higher Regional Court, a working group chaired by the President of the Nuremberg Higher Regional Court, Dr. Thomas Dickert, officially presented their proposals for the modernization of the civil process. The first key points became known as early as the summer of 2020, followed by the final report of the working group. In addition to the presidents of the Higher Regional Courts, the Court of Appeal, the Bavarian Supreme Court and the Federal Court of Justice, numerous judges from various higher regional court districts also took part.

Unsurprisingly, the participants agreed on one point: There is a need for reform in the civil process. But how should it go on? "The task now is to find the right pace for reform," said Prof. Roman Poseck, President of the Higher Regional Court Frankfurt am Main. He indicated that the topics of verbal protocol in civil proceedings, the use of artificial intelligence and structuring requirements for the presentations by lawyers are about areas in which the pace of reform will in any case not reach top speed.

Bavaria's Justice Minister: "First of all, digitization costs money"

On the other hand, the core points of the working group, such as the introduction of an online procedure, with which citizens can submit their concerns simply and without a lawyer using an input mask, seem more realistic for a timely implementation. This should enable consumers to enforce claims more easily and beyond private competition from Legal Tech & Co. The amount in dispute is currently 5,000 euros.

"Citizens' access to court is still largely paper-based or requires a personal interview. There is an urgent need for action here: contemporary digital access to the courts must be made possible for those seeking justice. In addition, the civil process must be more efficient with IT resources , faster and more resource-efficient, "said Dickert on Tuesday in Nuremberg.

Bavaria's Justice Minister Georg Eisenreich (CSU) emphasized: "We need a digital offensive in civil proceedings." Justice is there for the people and the possibilities of digitization must be used to make civil proceedings of the future even closer to the citizen and more efficient. Eisenreich does not believe that the judiciary can really save money as a result. "First of all, digitization costs money," he said.

ZPO reform is likely to be the case for the next legislative period

Eisenreich's participation in the conference is a sign that the proposals should be more than just a discussion paper as soon as possible and instead become a legal-political project. Bavaria had already advocated the digitization of justice at the Justice Ministers' Conference (Jumiko) in autumn 2020, the Eisenreich previously held the post of State Minister for Digital in Bavaria.

With a unanimous decision by Jumiko, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection is to set up a federal-state working group to further develop the proposals. As a legislator, it would be the federal government's turn to reform the ZPO. With a view to the short remaining time of the current legislative period, the project is likely to be a case for the next governing coalition.

So far, the proposals are still an internal civil justice project, but the civil judges' day should now give the starting shot for a broader discussion - the lawyers and academics will certainly have their own contribution to this.