12. 4. 2017

Amendments to the Civil Procedure Act bring radical changes

The amendments to the Civil Procedure Act (CPA-E) were adopted on 17 February 2017, the majority of which will apply as of 14 September 2017. Amendments regarding the extraordinary legal remedy of reopening proceedings and amendments regarding the possibility of filing an action for annulment of a court settlement have been effective as of 14 March 2017.

One of the main changes is the introduction of a preparatory hearing at which the court can openly discuss the legal and factual aspects of the dispute with the parties to the dispute. The purpose of this preparatory hearing is to prepare a case hearing schedule. If possible, the court shall use this schedule to fix all dates for the main hearings and the estimated time for completion of the case.

Furthermore, the number of written submissions that can be filed with the court shall be limited so that each party to the dispute will be permitted to file no more than two preparatory submissions (to date the number of preliminary submissions has not been limited). Preparatory submissions will have to be filed no later than 15 days prior to the preparatory hearing.

The matter of trade secrets is also regulated (along the lines of Directive 2014/104/EU). According to this, the court will be able to impose that one or both parties disclose information, i.e. information constituting trade secrets, if such disclosure is proposed by the other party and if such disclosure is necessary for the proceeding.

Another important change is the abolition of the institution of the authorized audit. The current provisions entail that an audit as an extraordinary legal remedy is always possible, provided that the value of the dispute exceeds EUR 40,000 or EUR 200,000 in commercial disputes. CPA-E now maintains only the institute of a permitted audit. This means that parties to the dispute, regardless of its value, will first have to file a motion for audit, in respect of which they will have to demonstrate that the motion addresses important legal questions and suggestions otherwise justified. Only where the Supreme Court upholds such a motion will the parties be permitted to submit an audit.

The amendments also introduce several other changes, whose main purpose is to compel the parties to the dispute and the court to prepare well in advance of the proceedings opening, to eliminate excess formalities and shorten the proceedings. Legislators believe that these changes will also boost confidence in the justice system and the number of direct foreign investments into the country.

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