Modernising judicial cooperation across borders: Presidency and Parliament reach provisional agreement on the taking of evidence and the service of documents regulations

The EU is working to modernise cross-border exchanges between authorities through digitalisation to improve judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters.

The Council Presidency and the European Parliament today reached a provisional agreement on two amended regulations, one on the taking of evidence and a second on the service of documents. The provisional agreement now needs to be submitted for endorsement by EU member states’ ambassadors.

Having a modern, digitalised system of judicial cooperation is now more important than ever. The provisional agreement reached today with the European Parliament will improve citizens’ access to justice, by making procedures quicker and more efficient.

Dražen Bošnjaković, Minister of Justice of Croatia

The draft regulations provide for the modernisation of judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters in the taking of evidence and service of documents. They improve the efficiency and speed of cross-border judicial proceedings by taking advantage of digitalisation and the use of modern technology, and by these means advance access to justice and fair trial for the parties.

Changes in both regulations include the mandatory use of an electronic decentralised IT system, composed of interconnected national IT systems, for the transmission of documents and requests between member states. The draft regulations also task the Commission with the creation, maintenance and future development of a reference software which member states can choose to apply as their back end system, instead of a nationally-developed IT system.

Regarding the service of documents, under the draft new rules documents can be served electronically and directly on an addressee with a known address in another member state, when his or her express consent is given in advance. The service can be performed through qualified electronic registered delivery services or, under additional conditions, by e-mail.

The draft new rules also promote the use of videoconferencing or other distance communication technology in the taking of evidence which implies hearing a witness, party or expert present in another member state.


The current regulation on the service of documents has put in place a fast-track and standardised transmission procedure for the service of documents between courts and other parties located in different EU countries.

The current regulation on the taking of evidence provides a framework for cross-border judicial assistance between EU countries by facilitating the collection of evidence across borders.