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Recent Developments in the Judicial Field in Lithuania

On 1 October, 2011, the Law amending the Code of Civil Procedure entered into force. The new legislation is a major modernization of the Code of Civil Procedure (hereinafter - CCP), replacing nearly 400 articles of the CCP.
Major amendments:
1. Changes related to the jurisdiction of district courts in civil law proceedings:
Since 1 October, 2011, district courts shall settle the cases exceeding the amount of LTL 150,000 (before this amendment was made, the respective amount of LTL 100,000 was applicable). However, these courts shall not have the obligation to settle labour cases and cases for non-pecuniary damages. In addition, district courts shall have the competence to settle the disputes for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages regarding the violation of patient rights.
2. Changes regarding litigation costs. Certain amendments on the new rates of fixed stamp duties were introduced.
3. Drafting of court documents and their delivery:

4. Recording of the court hearing:
From 1 January, 2013, each court hearing will be recorded and sound recording will be made available to the participants of court proceedings.
5. Use of information and electronic communication technologies in legal proceedings:
Since 1 January, 2013, a person shall be entitled to submit court documents to the court in the electronic form by means of electronic communication and interrogate witnesses and/or participants of the proceedings by means of electronic technologies and communication (via video conferencing, teleconferences or otherwise).
6. Other amendments related to the appeal and cassation proceedings, public procurement litigation, enforcement proceedings, e.g.:

Moreover, recently Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania passed the decision of joining several courts. To be more precise, from September 1, 2012, four district courts of Vilnius city will be joined into one Vilnius city district court, two district courts of Kaunas city and Kaunas region will be joined into one Kaunas city district court and two district courts of Siauliai city and Siauliai region shall be joined into one Siauliai city district court. These developments will enable courts to function in more effective and transparent way, also ensuring the rights of people to be heard before the court.
Developments in the field of administrative activity. On July 15, 2011, Judicial Council approved the regulation on Courts administrative actions register that shall come into force on 1 December, 2012. The purpose of the register is to register, collect, accumulate, edit, systematize, save, use and provide the data and documents determined in this Regulation from the time the Regulation on Administration in courts were approved, etc.). Till the register is not working yet, the documents are sent by court to the National Courts’ Administration and shall be placed into the register when it shall work. Such system of registering the documents of administrative activity of the courts shall enable the courts to cooperate more and to see whether certain actions are taken in proper time.
Also the regulation on inventory of transferring the documents from the Central mortgage institution branches under the district courts to the district courts. This regulation was necessary, since the subordination of such branches has changed from the district courts to the Central mortgage institution. After close cooperation between the Judicial Council and Central mortgage institution, the documents to be delivered to the district courts were determined and the list concerned was stipulated in the regulation.
The events concerning the number of the judges in particular courts, as well as other court staff were an issue in 2011. Regarding the change of jurisdiction of the cases of administrative offence (the appeal now goes to the regional courts instead of the supreme Administrative court) the judge from every administrative regional court was transferred to the regional court of common competence. Moreover, in order to ensure the proper treatment of the children and juvenile in criminal process, as well as in civil one, 5 psychologists will be working in regional courts from 1 December, 2012. Therefore, Judicial Council has prepared and approved the example of the
International Activities. Referring to the international activity, the new delegates were appointed to participate in the European Networks of Councils for the judiciary (ENCJ) working groups. The members of Judicial Council also participated in drafting the proposal for the programme „Efficiency, quality and transparency in Lithuanian courts“, supported by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 (and the Judicial Council shall take part while developing the project). Specifically, three pre-defined projects: “Modernization of court’s information system”, “Witnesses and crime victims support and security in courts”, “The quality in the NCA and courts”, have been designed to contribute to the achievement of three expected outcomes.