1 Is it possible for evidence to be taken by videoconference either with the participation of a court in the requesting Member State or directly by a court of that Member State? If yes, what are the relevant national procedures or laws that apply?
Both procedures are possible. A request should clearly state which procedure the requesting court means.
Where requests are made under Articles 10 to 12 of the Regulation, the provisions of the Code of Judicial Procedure relating to the presentation of evidence apply to the hearing.
2 Are there any restrictions on the type of person who can be examined by videoconference – for example, is it only witnesses or can others such as experts or parties also be examined in this way?
There are no such restrictions in civil or commercial law cases. Experts and parties can also be examined by video conference.
3 What restrictions, if any, are there on the type of evidence that can be obtained by videoconference?
4 Are there any restrictions on where the person should be examined by videoconference – i.e. does it have to be in a court?
5 Is it permitted to record videoconference hearings and, if so, is the facility available?
The recording of video-conference hearings is not prohibited, but the requisite equipment is not available in all courts. A separate enquiry to this effect should be made when the request is submitted.
6 In what language should the hearing be conducted: (a) where requests are made under Articles 10 to 12; and (b) where there is direct taking of evidence under Article 17?
Where requests are made under Articles 10 to 12, the hearing is conducted in Finnish or Swedish. In the case of a direct hearing under Article 17, the requesting court selects the language to be used.
7 If interpreters are required, who is responsible for providing them under both types of hearing and where should they be located?
Where requests are made under Articles 10 to 12, the provision and location of interpreters is a matter to be agreed between the requesting court and the receiving court. Where requests are made under Article 17, the requesting court is responsible for obtaining interpreters and deciding where they should be located.
8 What procedure applies to the arrangements for the hearing and to notify the person to be examined about the time and place? How much time should be allowed when arranging the date of the hearing to enable the person to receive sufficient notification?
Where requests are made under Articles 10 to 12, the receiving court sends a written summons to the person to be examined. Ideally, there should be at least two to three weeks between the service of notice and the date of the hearing. Where requests are made under Article 17, the requesting court is responsible for the service of notice and for making the necessary arrangements.
9 What costs apply to the use of videoconferencing and how should they be paid?
When a person is examined pursuant to Articles 10 to 12 of the Regulation in a video-equipped court, the use of video conferencing equipment does not usually generate separate costs. When a person is examined pursuant to Article 17 in a place other than a court, the requesting court takes responsibility for videoconferencing costs.
10 What requirements, if any, are there for ensuring that the person examined directly by the requesting court has been informed that the performance shall take place on a voluntary basis?
A court which has submitted a request under Article 17(2) of the Regulation must inform the person in question that evidence is taken on a voluntary basis.
11 What procedure exists for verifying the identity of the person to be examined?
Where requests are made under Articles 10 to 12, the receiving court establishes the identity of the person to be examined and checks it, if necessary, against the person’s identity card or passport. Where requests are made under Article 17, the requesting court is required to verify the identity of the person to be examined.
12 What requirements for taking oaths apply and what information is needed from the requesting court when an oath is required during direct taking of evidence under Article 17?
No particular requirements for taking oaths apply during direct taking of evidence under Article 17. An oath is sworn in accordance with the legislation governing the court that is examining the witness.
13 What arrangements are there for ensuring that there is a contact person at the place of the videoconference with whom the requesting court can liaise and a person who is available on the day of the hearing to operate the videoconferencing facilities and deal with any technical problems?
The receiving court provides the name of such a contact person.
14 What, if any, additional information is required from the requesting court?
– The requesting court should ideally provide the names of contact persons for both technical arrangements and case-specific (legal) issues.
– The request should contain contact details (email addresses and/or telephone numbers) of the contact persons that allow them to be reached also during the court hearing in case there are problems with the video link or other similar issues.
– If the states are located in different time zones, the request should specify whether the times mentioned are the times of the requesting state or the receiving state.
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