The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice

In Austria there exists a large range of electronical support within the court system. Communication, registration of cases, statistics, registries of land and companies, videoconferencies, …
All lawyers are connected with the courts by an electronic trafic system, which allows the courts to distribute summons, protocols and decisions electronically to the lawyers, and forces lawyers to send almost all their claims and other informations electronically to the courts.
This is not a system using emails. There are special providers, which have been licensed by the Ministry of Justice. If one has the technical facilities und pays a certain fee, using the electronic trafic system is possible. It is mandatory for lawyers. Most of the proceedings with participation of lawyers or other professional clients are therefore instigated electronically.
Payment orders are produced automatically and have only to be examined and signed by the judge. Initial orders in the enforcement procedures are too very much supported by routines of the computer.
Another main electronic part of the court system is the electronic registry of the courts. There is not only registered the main data of the case, since some months all information, distributed using the eletronic trafic system is stored too in the electronic registry. The electronic registry is used too for monitoring the length of proceedings. Every judge gets a list of pending cases monthly and a list of cases pending a longer time frequently.
We up to now have no electronic file, but by storing all the information exchanged between court and the users of the electronic trafic system almost all informations are stored in the registry. Lawyers get an electronic code of access to the registered data of their files
Parties who not take part in the electronic trafic system will reach papers by post. But most of these papers are print and sent automatically using an automatic post printing system in Vienna. Therefore courts in most of the cases do not distribute by post themselves.
Video conference is used in public hearings for the hearing of witnesses, experts and parties. Until now almost all Austrian courts have got the equipment for these conferences.
For all clients we provide a data based law information system on public internet, run by the Austrian government, containing all national and federal law and court decisions of the Supreme Court and the Oberlandesgerichte.

Dr. Walter Engelberger
District court of Linz, Austria