The epidemic caused by the Covid-19 virus has significantly introduced changes in the search for safe solutions for people-to-people contact. These changes also affected the courts and the mode of court hearings, in order to ensure the greatest possible safety for the parties to the proceedings and court employees. In this situation, the best way to limit direct contact was the possibility of using electronic communication methods.
Amendment to the Polish Act of March 2, 2020 on special solutions related to the prevention, counteraction and combating of COVID-19, other infectious diseases and the emergencies caused by them, implemented by two acts of May 14, 2020 and May 28, 2021, allowed for the possibility of holding court hearings in Polish courts with using means of distance communication. The change resulting directly from article 15 zzs1 of the Polish Act of 2 March 2020 allowed for the possibility of participating in a remote hearing from a place other than the court, because until now the Polish Code of Civil Procedure allowed for the possibility of conducting a remote hearing, but the persons participating in it had to be present in the court building. Pursuant to article 15zzs1 point 1 of the Polish Act of 2 March 2020, during the period of the epidemic threat or epidemic state announced due to COVID-19 and within one year of the last of them being recalled in cases examined under the provisions of the Polish Code of Civil Procedure, court hearings or open sessions are held with the use of technical devices enabling them to be carried out at a distance with the simultaneous direct transmission of image and sound, except that the people participating in them do not have to be in the court building, unless holding a hearing or a public hearing without the use of the above devices causes excessive health risk to the participants.
The Polish legislator provides for two forms of proceedings taking place as part of a remote hearing. The first one, indicated above, allows to participate in a remote hearing in the court building. The second one introduces the possibility of connecting with the court from any location. In the case of a remote hearing in the court, the court is fully responsible for the technical and organizational aspects of conducting a remote hearing. On the other hand, in a situation where the participants are not in the court building, technical and organizational aspects rest on the parties and participants in the proceedings, who must ensure on their own appropriate technical equipment enabling sound and image recording and a good-quality internet connection with the court. Such a device can be e.g. a laptop, a tablet, a mobile phone, equipped with a camera and a sound device.
In the content of both the notices and summons, the court should include an appropriate instruction on the possibility of holding a hearing through technical devices recording image and sound, without the need to stay in the court building. The parties, witnesses and experts should also be instructed about the need to submit an application for this purpose, bearing the reference number of the case. The instruction should also contain information about the need to have access to the Internet and a functional device enabling connection. Importantly, the parties and witnesses should also provide their e-mail address and telephone number in order to send a link to the connection and possible contact in case of connection problems. Remote hearing also allows a witness to testify without the need to appear in court. However, if the witness does not have access to the Internet or a functional communication device, his appearance in the court building is necessary. The person connecting with the court should have an ID card or another document confirming identity.
As for the admissible software for conducting a trial, there are no restrictions on the choice of software for conducting a trial, because no executive act has so far specified a catalog of admissible programs. Currently, remote hearings are conducted on the basis of technical solutions prepared and maintained by the Court of Appeals in Wrocław, belonging to the Ministry of Justice, described on the Central Videoconference Portal, in particular the OpenSource JITSI software.
#remotehearingandCovid #Polishlaw #PolishlawRemotehearings #Jitsisoftware #Callingawitness
 Biała M. Rozprawy zdalne w postępowaniu cywilnym, Komentarz Praktyczny