European e-Justice Internet portal up and running

The European Union has launched on July 16th, the European Internet portal e-Justice, an electronic one-stop-shop for access to justice throughout the EU. With this new website, the Union aims at solving the main questions related to legal issues and helping citizens, companies as well as law practitioners, by contributing to the creation of a single area of justice.

With more than 12.000 pages of content, the first version of the European Internet portal e-Justice provides information and links on laws and practices in all Member States. For example, the portal offers information on legal aid, judicial training, and videoconferencing, as well as links to legal databases, online insolvency and land registers.

More than 10 million citizens involved in cross-border judicial procedures each year, will benefit from a simple and accessible way to get information. Besides, it will also be an important tool for everyday work of lawyers and judges.

e-Justice Portal, who benefits?

  • Citizens can get answers on how the 27 Member States' legal systems function. They can get quick answers when dealing with real-life events such as divorce, death, litigation or even moving house. They can find a legal practitioner in another country, learn how to avoid costly court cases through mediation, where to bring a lawsuit, which Member State's law applies in cases and whether they are eligible for legal aid.
  • Lawyers, notaries and judges can have access to legal databases, contact colleagues through judicial networks and find information on judicial training. They also find information on arranging cross-border videoconferences.
  • Businesses will find links to insolvency and property registers and information about the laws that apply and about cross-border proceedings.

The involvement of judges and legal practitioners, such as notaries, lawyers, bailiffs and mediators, is essential to the success of the portal. There are several projects are under way, such as the work on a European Case-Law Identifier (ECLI) to facilitate access to national and EU case law in the cross-border context, or other initiatives such as the web to facilitate access to multilingual information on succession law recently launched by a project promoted by the Council of the Notariats of the EU.

The Commission, which manages the site, will continue to work closely with Member States to progressively enrich its content and develop new functionalities. Fact sheets on defendants' rights and victims' rights in all EU Member States will be available in early 2011, including, for example, information on how road traffic offences are dealt with in different countries. These fact sheets will serve as a basic reference tool for legal practitioners as well as citizens.

Future versions of the portal will also make existing EU justice tools more effective, and work is already under way to ensure that by 2013 there will be a tool allowing citizens to narrow their searches for lawyers. Good progress is also expected to be made to tackle EU-wide interoperability issues for e-Signature, e-Identity and e-Payment. Solutions in these areas are required for several of the e-Justice projects' full implementation, such as for the European Payment Order or the European Small Claims procedure.

Council Action Plan on European e-Justice 2009-2013

The Council Action Plan on European e-Justice 2009-2013, adopted in November 2008, aims to improve access to justice and its delivery. It sets the objective of creating a European e-Justice portal. It recognises that information and communication technologies can play a key role in improving the way judicial systems work because they can facilitate legal practitioners' daily work and foster cooperation among legal authorities.