COVID-19: Litigation Procedures and Opportunities
By Marzanna Sobaniec, Penteris
We have all seen seismic changes in the sector this past year. In 2020, McKinsey estimated that 23% of the work done by lawyers can be automated using current technology. In light of COVID, many EU countries have passed laws allowing video-conferencing in the regular operation of its courts. Likewise, in Poland, where the pandemic has accelerated the move to “online”, this has been a blessing in disguise.
Counsellors, parties, and witnesses are not obliged now to physically appear in court, despite there being no single standard on how an online hearing should be conducted. The decision to conduct a hearing with the usage of modern technologies depends solely on the judge and, fortunately, increasingly many are deciding to make use of these tools.
However, the pandemic has also brought about changes which have been widely criticised by lawyers.
Courts can conduct non-public hearings in certain situations and there are ongoing talks about making this a standard. Public hearings will be conducted only if it is necessary and there are no health concerns.
Another example would see appeals adjudicated by only one judge instead of three. The panel of three judges would adjudicate only in the most important or complex of cases.
COVID restrictions could be violating certain of our rights. As a rule, proceedings are public and before the pandemic anyone could go to court and observe most public hearings, allowing citizens to supervise judicial authority. Now, however, this has been restricted by some courts. This is even more so for online proceedings when only the participants may obtain access.
The pandemic has pushed the envelope for the use of technology in court procedures, but it has also highlighted the challenges still awaiting us. A fossilised system will not be modernised simply with the use of video-conferencing. True modernisation will require a genuine re-boot, which we are still waiting for in Poland.
Marzanna SobaniecGGI member firm
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Penteris is a law firm combining in-depth expertise, robust advice, and a pan-regional reach. We boast a team of seasoned dispute resolution specialists under one roof. Our strong project management skills are particularly important in case of complex, inter-connected disputes. We ensure comprehensive project management and cross-coordination of all related cases, in addition to court representation.
Marzanna Sobaniec is a Polish attorney-at-law, Partner of the Dispute Resolution Practice at Penteris. Handling multi-jurisdiction cases ranging from Real Estate, Energy, Banking, FMCG, and Construction, she works with diverse businesses, both from the private and public sectors. Marzanna’s broad experience in litigation, arbitration and mediation sees her find the most effective dispute strategies and business solutions for her clients.
Published: Litigation & Dispute Resolution Newsletter, No. 14, Spring 2021 l Photo: TTstudio - stock.adobe.com