Will there be a revolution in the delivery system in civil proceeding?

In the second half of this year, the provisions of the Act on electronic delivery, adopted in November, regulating the rules of delivering correspondence with public entities with the use of the registered public delivery service, will come into force. These provisions are intended to revolutionize the correspondence with public entities, including administrative authorities and courts, by transferring them to the virtual world. Due to technical conditions, some provisions of the Act will enter into force in October this year, and some at later dates, sometimes up to 8 years.

The Act provides for the creation of an ICT system enabling official correspondence in electronic form, as well as a database containing addresses to which public entities will deliver correspondence. At the same time, a number of categories of entities have been authorized or obliged to have such electronic addresses, and the entry of the address in the database is to be tantamount to a request to deliver correspondence by electronic means.

Of course, public entities will be required to have such addresses. At the same time, all entrepreneurs that are subject to entry in the National Court Register or CEiDG may have such an address, and in their case it will be possible to resign from the registered electronic delivery service.

Provided that, the creation of an address related to the registered electronic delivery service is, in principle, to take place on the basis of an application by the interested party (except for newly registered entrepreneurs - in this case the address will be provided automatically).

in the absence of an address entry in the database, the Act provides for the possibility of delivering correspondence to the address known to the authority, from which the given entity corresponded.

A separate category are entities providing professional advisory services related to representing clients before public administration bodies, such as lawyers, legal advisers, tax and restructuring advisors, patent attorneys or notaries. In their case, having an address in the database enabling electronic delivery will be obligatory.

Despite the fact that the Act provides for numerous subjective and objective exceptions (e.g. voluntary service for many categories of entities, the possibility of requesting the service of a letter in paper form or a complete exclusion in some types of proceedings), such service is already a rule in the case of entities providing professional advisory services, and ultimately as the computerization of state authorities progresses, they will probably cover all entrepreneurs.

At the same time, the Act introduces changes to a number of provisions regulating the procedure before courts and public administration bodies with regard to the service of correspondence.

And so in administrative proceedings, the delivery of correspondence by electronic means will become the rule, as long as the addressee has the necessary electronic address.

Service in civil proceedings was similarly regulated, and in this case the possibility was additionally made dependent on the "technical and organizational conditions of the court". Service to natural persons will only be possible if such persons first submit a letter to the court in this way. However, this provision does not apply to entrepreneurs.

The above means that every person obliged to have an address in a database created on the basis of the provisions of the Act (i.e. professional attorneys), as well as every entrepreneur who voluntarily have such an address, may receive letters in this way, as long as the technical and organizational conditions in court allow it.

The provisions that are coming into force are undoubtedly an important step on the way to the inevitable computerization of court and administrative proceedings and should be assessed positively in this respect. It is obvious that with the technical possibilities available in the 21st century, digitization will allow for the acceleration and improvement of the operation of courts that are snowed under with work.

At the same time, the Act raises a number of concerns related to the actual implementation in the context of the lack of technical possibilities on the part of both public entities and potential recipients of electronic correspondence. This applies not only to entrepreneurs or proxies, but also to a number of spheres that seem to have not been sufficiently specified at this stage.

In the context of the expiry of procedural deadlines, one of such areas is, for example, the case of shipping advice, which may cause problems not only for professional representatives, but also for entrepreneurs who decide to use electronic delivery.

Despite the possibility (and for some entities an obligation) to appoint a mailbox administrator who will ensure the receipt of correspondence, a significant part of it requires the addressee to react within the statutory deadline. In the event of a longer absence, whether due to illness or for reasons as mundane as a longer vacation, there is a risk of missing the deadline, which may affect the final result of court or administrative proceedings. Such a problem may affect, in particular, those running a sole proprietorship and not using the help of other staff, either through employment or in any other form.

As a consequence, an important area related to deliveries seems insufficiently regulated. Practice will of course show whether this will result in problems on a larger scale, but it seems that the provisions regulating the method of confirming the delivery of correspondence and the effects of delivery require clarification.

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