The European Commission has released today its proposal for a new Evidence Regulation. Key amendments include:
Currently, the term ‘court’ is not defined and this has led to diverging interpretations among Member States. Some take it as referring only to traditional tribunals, while others also execute requests from other judicial authorities (e.g. notaries public) if they are empowered under their national laws to perform tasks of taking of evidence. These uncertainties should be eliminated by a definition of the concept of ‘court’.
This amendment introduces the mandatory electronic transmission, as a rule, of requests and communications pursuant to the Regulation (paragraph 1). In exceptional cases, i.e. where the system is interrupted or not suitable for the transmission in question (e.g. transmission of a DNA sample as evidence), other channels can still be used (paragraph 4).
Articles 17 and 17a
The purpose of the proposed amendments is to ensure a more appropriate, more frequent and faster use of direct taking of evidence in accordance with Article 17 via videoconference, where available to the courts in question and appropriate in the light of the specific circumstances of the case.
The purpose of this new Article is to facilitate the taking of evidence by diplomatic officers or consular agents. The Article provides that such persons may, in the territory of another Member State and in the area where they exercise their functions, take evidence without the need for a prior request, by hearing nationals of the Member State which they represent without compulsion in the context of proceedings pending in the courts of that Member State.
This new Article is to ensure that digital evidence taken in accordance with the law of the Member State where it was taken is not rejected as evidence in other Member States solely due to its digital nature.
This provision sets out that the Commission shall establish a detailed programme for monitoring the outputs, results and impacts of this Regulation”.
The proposal may be accessed here.