The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted Regulation (EU) 2020/1784 of 25 November 2020 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters (recast) (“The Regulation”).
The Regulation applies from 1 July 2022 across the EU Member States (except Denmark). It replaces and repeals the well-known Regulation (EU) 1393/2007 and it aims to improve and expedite the transmission and service of judicial and extrajudicial documents whilst safeguarding the privacy and personal data of the addressees.
The Regulation does not apply to revenue, customs or administrative matters or to the liability of a Member State for actions or omissions in the exercise of state authority (acta iure imperii).
With the exception of the provisions on assistance in address enquiries discussed below (Article 7), the Regulation does not apply where the address of the person to be served with a document is not known, neither does it apply to the service of a document in the forum Member State (i.e. the Member State in which the judicial proceedings take place – Article 2(1)) on a representative authorised by the person to be served, regardless of the place of residence of that person.
Means of communication to be used by transmitting agencies, receiving agencies and central bodies - Transmission of documents through a decentralised IT system
The documents to be served, requests, confirmations, receipts, certificates and communications between transmitting agencies and receiving agencies, between those agencies and the central bodies or between the central bodies of different Member States shall be transmitted through a secure and reliable decentralised IT system (defined as a “network of national IT systems and interoperable access points, operating under the individual responsibility and management of each Member State, that enables the secure and reliable cross-border exchange of information between the national IT systems” – Article 2(2)) based on an interoperable solution such as e-CODEX (Article 5(1) – see relevant Regulation (EU) 2022/850 of 30 May 2022 on a computerised system for the cross-border electronic exchange of data in the area of judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters (e-CODEX system), amending Regulation (EU) 2018/1726 published on the Official Journal of 1 June 2022).
According to Article 37, these provisions concerning the transmission of documents between the agencies and the central bodies (Articles 5, 8 and 10) shall apply following the period of three years after the date of entry into force of the implementing acts establishing such a decentralised IT system.
Documents transmitted through the decentralised IT system shall not be denied legal effect or considered inadmissible as evidence in the proceedings solely on the grounds that they are in electronic form (Article 6).
Qualified electronic seals / signatures
Qualified electronic seals or qualified electronic signatures (as defined in Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market) may be duly used (Article 5(3)).
Assistance in address enquiries
Where the address of the person to be served with the judicial or extrajudicial document in another Member State is not known, that Member State shall provide assistance in determining the address (Article 7) by:
Methods of service
The receiving agency shall itself serve the document or have it served, either in accordance with the law of the Member State addressed or by a particular method requested by the transmitting agency, unless that method is incompatible with the law of that Member State (Article 11(1)).
The receiving agency shall take all necessary steps to effect the service of the document as soon as possible, and in any event within one month of its receipt. If this is not possible, the receiving agency shall immediately inform the transmitting agency and continue to take all necessary steps to effect the service (Article 11(2)).
Other means of transmission and service of judicial documents are further provided, such as postal services and electronic service (Articles 16 - 20). With respect to electronic service this is subject to the conditions that:
The receiving agency shall inform the addressee in writing of the right to refuse the document if it is not accompanied by a translation into either a language which the addressee understands or the official language of the Member State addressed (Articles 9 and 12). The addressee may refuse to accept the document either at the time of service or within two weeks of the time of service by making a written declaration of refusal of acceptance (Article 12(3)).
Fundamental rights and freedoms
The Regulation aims to ensure that the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons involved shall be fully observed and respected in accordance with Union law, in particular the rights to equal access to justice, non-discrimination and the protection of personal data and privacy (Articles 31 and 32).
Relevant monitoring procedures are also put in place as by 2 July 2023 the Commission shall establish a detailed programme for monitoring the outputs, results and impact of the Regulation with the assistance of Member States (Article 34) whilst an evaluation shall also be carried out and a report shall be presented to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee no later than five years after the date of application of the provisions on the transmission through a decentralised IT system (Article 35).
The Regulation seeks to target delays and excessive costs for individuals and businesses, simplify the process of service of documents and enhance effectiveness by putting technology into use.
The content of this article is valid as at the date of its first publication. It is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you seek professional advice on your specific matter before acting on any information provided. For further information or advice, please contact Constantina Zantira, Senior Associate, telephone +357 25363685, Limassol Office, or email firstname.lastname@example.org