1. The court isn’t there to serve you, is it?

No, it is not there to serve you. Neither the judiciary as a whole, nor any particular court can be a service that is provided to people. Their role is not to serve you, but to administer justice.

2. Then why are we talking about the court as a service?

Every day, thousands of people go to court. They file documents, call to find out something, look at the case docket on the court website, search for legal information. What is usually meant by court services is making these routine things more frictionless. The court might be fulfilling its core functions very well, but the process might be inconvenient. So one of the characteristics of a European court is that everyone is treated like a human being and a client of certain services provided by the state. Implementing such an approach is an important part of the judicial reform.

3. In what way has the “service” part of things become smoother?

We’ll name just three changes: the e-court, professional representation, and new rules of court procedures.

4. What is the e-court?

The e-court provides online access to many functions of the court. It allows you to file a lawsuit online, check whether your attorney is taking action in your case in a timely fashion, keep track of the progress of your case, pay fines and court fees. The functions of the e-court will gradually expand. This will allow cases to move along faster and will make navigating legal proceedings easier.

5. How can I make use of the e-court?

You can read about it here.

6. OK, but what is professional representation?

One of the means that you are getting service as part of legal action is through your attorney—a legal professional who is entrusted with representing someone’s interests when there is a need for it. Until very recently, the state didn’t get involved in the matter of whom a person might choose to represent their interests in court. This was wrong, because it opened the way into the legal profession for random people who could sometimes be unscrupulous and were not always competent. Amendments to the Constitution introduced as part of the judicial reform have corrected this. They introduced a requirement that, starting from January 1, 2018, only attorneys have the right to represent another person in court and be a defender in a criminal case. In order to be recognized as an attorney, a person has to not only have a law degree, but also pass a qualification exam and obtain a license to practice law.

7. So why is professional representation important anyway?

Court proceedings are a complicated matter. In order to feel confident in court, one has to know thousands of laws, regulations, and examples of how similar cases were decided by courts in the past. For a regular person, this would be both overwhelming and unnecessary. So how can regular people protect their rights when a need arises? The answer is simple—by hiring an attorney.

8. What do I need to know about newly introduced court procedures?

Amendments to the Commercial, Civil, and Administrative Procedural Codes that were adopted in October 2017 have greatly simplified court procedures. Whenever possible, procedural rules for various kinds of processes (civil, commercial, and administrative) that used to be different have now been unified. Besides, effective measures preventing parties to a case from abusing their procedural rights and dragging out litigation have been implemented. Thanks to this, court proceedings have become better organized, more straightforward and speedy.