Digital Justice

Countries

Spain

Policy areas

Organisation name Spanish Ministry of Justice

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Contact person: Jose Luis Hernandez Carrian

sgntj.secretaria@mju.es

The Digital Justice Programme provides electronic case management of legal affairs submitted to Courts in Spain. Moreover, the project is responsible for the implementation of new working methodologies that improve the efficiency of the legal processes. The technological solution includes a set of components that, thanks to its interoperability with the Minerva Procedural Management System, allows the judicial bodies under the Ministry of Justice jurisdiction to electronically manage data and electronic judicial documents.

The general objective of the project is to provide paperless case management at all jurisdictional levels (civil, criminal, social and contentious administrative) and all instances (jurisdictional stages in which presentation, assessment and resolution of cases presented to court may be divided) within the territorial scope of the Spanish Ministry of Justice, including the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Communications (claims, pleadings, notifications and administrative files) and the operations of signing, viewing and consulting documents are entirely electronic, eliminating the use of paper in the process and granting greater guarantees to all legal acts. The designed model generates documentation directly in electronic format and allows the adding of new digital information, such as the recordings of trials and information sent by professionals. It incorporates a system to exploit the stored documentation with the necessary security guarantees, facilitating control and follow-up of issues.

Currently, proceedings cease to be a set of papers that moves from one legal agent to another and become a set of electronic information available to all participants in the process. Documents are directly produced in an electronic format and are included in the electronic judicial file. It allows the staff of the judicial office who need to access them during their daily work to always deal with them and in a concurrent and secure manner.

Results of the project include the following:

Electronic procedural communications have been extended and consolidated, significantly reducing entry and exit of paper documents in the judicial offices, which is a key element in the implementation of the electronic judicial file. The judicial bodies present notifications electronically as well as the following groups of legal professionals: legal services of public administrations, lawyers, solicitors, social graduates, the Attorney General, state security forces and bodies, public and private health centres, penitentiary institutions, citizenship, legal entities and others.

Between 22 February 2016 and 25 September 2017, the electronic processing of legal proceedings was implemented in 100% of the provincial courts and superior courts of justice, as well as in 88% of the single judicial bodies under the Ministry of Justice jurisdiction (578 of 659). Regarding central organs, Digital Justice has been implemented in the Labour Chamber of the Spanish Supreme Court. To complete its implementation, the solution is deployed in 30 judicial parties, the rest of Chambers of the Spanish Supreme Court and in the Spanish National Court.

Since EPSA, more than 78% of pleadings are presented electronically, more than 10 million documents have been digitally signed and 6.1 million consultations and downloads of documents and proceedings have been carried out electronically. Also, work is being done on the provision of mobile workplaces so that judges, lawyers of the Justice Administration and prosecutors can access the electronic judicial file with all its functionalities, including electronic signature, from any location and at any time with the necessary security guarantees.

A key characteristic of the project is its interoperability that permitted the project to develop and expand into various institutions. The technological and operational solution that has been designed includes a set of components that, thanks to its interoperability with the Procedural Management System, allows the judicial bodies and Public Prosecutors’ Offices under the Ministry jurisdiction to electronically manage information. Thus, in addition to communications (claims, pleadings, notifications and administrative files), signing, viewing and consulting documents are entirely electronic, eliminating the use of paper in the process and granting greater guarantees to all legal acts.

The Digital Justice Programme represents a new model of provision of justice services, focused on sustainability, efficiency and expansion throughout the Justice Administration. A centralised and distributed work model has been developed, adapted to the particularities of the judicial office (single-member body, collegiate responsibility, organisational singularities of the judicial office, etc.). Also, it fosters the maximum use of ICTs in judicial activity, so that systems can share data and information allowing a faster processing of judicial affairs, reducing errors and improving the quality of judicial decisions.

Therefore, the process that has been initiated not only does not have to go back, but requires further progress. It is still necessary to complete its implementation in all judicial bodies and to definitively stabilise the system to take full advantage of the benefits already being received. Usage data show that the systems used for electronic communications are becoming a mandatory and usual work tool, and that only for exceptional reasons is the manual system enabled for specific assumptions of use and are utilised.

On the other hand, new challenges arise regarding the full technological integration of the Justice Administration at national level. It is essential to adapt the systems to the needs of the Ministry of Justice and of the Autonomous Communities under the jurisdiction of the Spanish Ministry of Justice. This implies designing a national strategy to follow that must result from the collaborative work between all the administrations with jurisdiction in the area of justice.

The project has developed entirely electronic communications (claims, pleadings, notifications and administrative files), signing, viewing and consulting documents. Likewise, it eliminated the use of paper in the proceedings and granted greater guarantees to all legal acts. The following platforms and systems have been developed:

  • Procedural Management System Minerva. This supports the processing of information related to judicial proceedings and provides service to judicial bodies.
  • LexNet: a secure information exchange system that enables electronic bidirectional communication between judicial offices and diverse legal operators for submission of notifications and presentation of pleadings.
  • HERMES: enables electronic communications with the public health system and with the police bodies dependent on local authorities.
  • Electronic Administrative File Loader System: allows the automatic inclusion of administrative files electronically sent by other public administrations.
  • Electronic Judicial Office of the Spanish Ministry of Justice: provides the service of communication and notification by electronic means to citizens and legal entities.
  • Electronic judicial files viewer HORUS: allows users to quickly find and consult the information from judicial and administrative electronic files.
  • Electronic signature holder: provides electronic signatures.
  • Other systems: provide support to all the additional needs that surround judicial proceedings, such as presenting an appeal to other judicial bodies, loading and consulting judgements published by the Judicial Documentation Centre and recording trials or other proceedings.

Main achievements of the project include the following:

  • On 1 January 2016, electronic communications were implemented by bodies and judicial offices within the territorial scope of the Spanish Ministry of Justice, and the following groups: professionals of the legal services of public administrations and the social security administration, lawyers, the Attorney General, solicitors and social graduates. During 2016, more than 69 million electronic acts of procedural communications have been exchanged.
  • Between 22 February and 14 December 2016, the complete processing of judicial proceedings through the Digital Justice solution was implemented in 26 judicial parties (all provincial capitals and major judicial parties). In addition, two out of three courts (717 judicial units) and 70% of cases processed within the territorial scope of the Spanish Ministry of Justice are already entirely working electronically. More than 76% of pleadings were presented electronically (1 638 277 electronic pleadings versus 510 897 submitted on paper); 6 274 730 documents were electronically signed; 998 264 documents, 561 280 proceedings and 5082 hearings were consulted through the electronic judicial files viewer, and 1 568 255 documents and 28 873 proceedings were downloaded.
  • On 1 January 2017, electronic communications were extended to the rest of public administrations and bodies related to Justice Administration, such as the State Security Forces and bodies, public and private health centres, police corps dependent on local authorities, penitentiary institutions, universities, citizenship and legal entities.
  • From 1 January to 26 April 2017, more than 27 500 000 electronic communications were submitted.
  • With the implementation of the electronic management of judicial proceedings the public service provided by the Justice Administration has been improved, adapting itself to Law 18/2011 of 5 July, regulating the use of Information and Communication Technologies in the Justice Administration, and achieving strategic objectives such as a more accessible, transparent, agile and better interconnected Justice.
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