General overview of the Measures Imposed by The Council for the Judiciary
Recently litigation has undergone major changes. The measures taken by The Council for the Judiciary (the Judiciary) as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19 are addressed in brief below.
General scheme for case handling and temporary arrangements
It has now been 6 weeks since the Judiciary decided to close the doors of the courts, tribunals and special colleges. Cases are still being dealt with, but in a different manner.
General deviating regulations
The general regulations contain general rules concerning attendance in court, oral proceedings, safe mailing and other matters.
The basic principle remains that, in principle, no hearings take place and the parties are not physically present. In principle, the parties will be heard by telephone or other means, such as Skype for Business, will be used. Written proceedings will continue to take place as much as possible, just as before.
Temporary deviating regulations
Each sector/area of law has also drawn up and implemented its own temporary regulations. Consequently, for civil summons cases, the courts also deviate from the normal rules. Due to special circumstances caused by the Corona crisis, the Judiciary has published Temporary deviating regulations for civil summons cases before the courts. This document describes, among other things, how new cases can be brought and stipulates that all docket sessions will continue to take place in writing. All written actions, such as submitting a statement of defense, take place in the usual manner.
Until further notice, no oral hearings will take place in the presence of the parties. Already planned oral hearings will be held for the time being. The court will also ask the parties whether they agree to a written procedure instead of an oral hearing.
In principle, judgments will be delivered and circulated.
In deviation of the temporary regulations, the handling of highly urgent cases and other urgent cases will continue as much as possible, in writing or via a telephone of video connections. Very urgent cases are cases where an judgement must be delivered without delay. Urgent cases include urgent summary proceedings, partial disputes, provisional reliefs and urgent applications for attachment and requests for the renewal or extension of lease agreements.. The court shall decide whether a case can be considered very urgent and whether a hearing should take place and if so, in what way. Other urgent cases include summary proceedings, dismissal of managing directors, notices of objection and appeals in bankruptcy proceedings and provisional provisions in appeal proceedings on the merits. On the website of the Judiciary there are lists of types of cases that fall into the categories urgent or very urgent.
New regular civil cases can be brought before court in the usual manner. Such cases shall be dealt with as much as possible in writing, with due observance of all (temporary) regulations.
Online hearings and safe emailing
The Judiciary intends to allow daily practice to continue as much as possible, whether or not through (digital) means. For this reason the Judiciary has opted for online court hearings as an alternative to oral hearings in court where the parties are physically present. In addition, the Judiciary has launched a secure platform as an alternative to submitting litigation documents.
The aim of the Judiciary is to allow as many cases as possible to proceed. To this end, the Council for the Judiciary has made special arrangements to hold such meetings online via the Skype Web App.
Litigation documents and messages that are normally sent by post or fax can be sent temporarily via the Safe Emailing system of the Judiciary. To this end, the Judiciary has launched a secure platform (ZIVVER). Via this platform, in addition to the courts themselves, lawyers, other professionals, organisations and the general public can quickly and easily exchange documents and messages. Documents that need to be signed must follow by post within 14 days.
Relaxation of measures from 11 May 2020.
From 11 May 2020, it will be possible, where necessary, to hold further meetings with the physical presence of the parties concerned. However, the number of hearings will be limited and priority will be given to criminal, juvenile and family cases and not to civil cases. To enable the physical presence of the parties involved, courtrooms will be set up in all court buildings in such a way that hearings can be held in a responsible manner. The "one and a half meter distance standard" and other restrictive measures to protect public health are taken into account. Since the relevant provisions may vary from court to court, it is advisable to consult the website of the court in question for up-to-date information.
If you wish to know more about the implications of the coronavirus crisis on the litigation practice or if you need any assistance in this respect, please do not hesitate to contact our Corona Helpdesk team (email@example.com, +31(0)20 312 2800).