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European Commission


Brussels, 3 December 2013

Judicial documents circulate faster across borders, a new Commission report reveals

The European Commission today presented its findings on the application of EU rules governing the 'service of documents' in civil justice proceedings – that is providing a citizen with access to correspondence intended for them in civil justice proceedings. These EU rules (Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007) strengthen the Single Market by improving the efficiency of cross-border justice in the EU, and provide in this way strong incentives to European businesses to expand their operations beyond national borders.

According to the report released today, European rules have helped speed up the service of documents between EU countries, despite an ever increasing caseload. Delivery times for judicial documents have fallen in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece and Portugal. This reporting follows the general abolition of the "exequatur" procedure in the EU (IP/10/1075), which means that today judicial decisions in civil and commercial matters can be enforced across EU countries, without the need for bureaucratic procedures through foreign courts.

Co-operation between the judicial authorities of EU countries is a cornerstone of the creation of a European area of justice. Such cooperation is necessary in order to ensure an efficient transmission of judicial and extrajudicial documents in cross-border civil justice cases. The service of documents is part of each and every judicial case. A speedy and secure transmission of documents is crucial for the fairness of justice and the protection of the rights of parties involved in legal proceedings. To further improve the functioning of these rules, the Commission intends to follow up on today's report with a public consultation to be carried out in the course of 2014.

"Service of documents is an integral part of civil justice. We want our civil proceedings in the European Union to be fair, and for that, this service of documents has to function effectively and swiftly", said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner.

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