Digitalisation of justice: Council approves its mandate for negotiations on the e-CODEX system

The Council today approved a general approach on the regulation on the e-CODEX system. The main aim of this system is to improve the efficiency of cross-border communication between the competent judicial authorities and facilitate access to justice for citizens and businesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on the need to, among other, speed up the digitalisation and interoperability of our justice systems. Providing our judicial authorities with a sustainable, secure system to communicate in cross-border procedures is an important step in this direction.

Francisca Van Dunem, Portuguese Minister of Justice

Digitalisation of justice aims to facilitate access to justice, improve overall efficiency, and ensure the resilience of justice systems in times of crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. e-CODEX (e-Justice Communication via Online Data Exchange) is a key technological enabler for modernising, through digitalisation, the communication in the context of cross-border judicial proceedings.

e-CODEX allows for the interoperability between the IT systems used by judicial authorities. It enables different national e-justice systems to be interconnected in order to carry out cross-border procedures in civil and criminal matters.

e-CODEX consists of a package of software components that enables the connectivity between national systems. It allows its users (competent judicial authorities, legal practitioners and citizens) to electronically send and receive documents, legal forms, evidence or other information in a swift and secure manner. In this way, e-CODEX allows the establishment of interoperable and secure decentralised communication networks between national IT systems supporting cross-border civil and criminal proceedings. For instance, e CODEX is already underpinning the e-Evidence Digital Exchange System, supports the exchanges in relation to European Investigation Orders and Mutual Legal Assistance in the area of judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

This system has been in development for a number of years through a consortium of member states, who are in charge of managing/ it until 2024. The draft regulation aims to provide a sustainable, long-term legal framework for the system, by handing over its management to eu-LISA. The approved compromise text introduces provisions protecting the independence of the judiciary and details the governance and management structure to be implemented within eu-LISA.

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