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?
In Poland, evidence may be taken by videoconference, in accordance with Articles 10–12 and Article 17 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001 of 28 May 2001 on cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters, as well as in accordance with the Hague Convention of 18 March 1970 on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters. Videoconferencing is governed by Article 235(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure and the Regulation of the Minister of Justice of 24 February 2010 on the technical equipment and resources that enable evidence to be taken remotely in civil proceedings.
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?
Polish law does not impose any such restrictions: experts, parties and witnesses may be heard by videoconference.
3 What restrictions, if any, are there on the type of evidence that can be obtained by videoconference?
Polish law does not lay down any particular restrictions on the type of evidence that may be obtained by videoconference. Circumstances of fact may, however, make it impossible to use videoconferencing, e.g. in the case of evidence from documents or an inspection.
4 Are there any restrictions on where the person should be examined by videoconference – i.e. does it have to be in a court?
Polish law does not place any particular restrictions on where videoconference hearings are to be held. As a rule, hearings take place in court, save where evidence is taken directly under Article 17 of Regulation No 1206/2001, which provides for the place of the hearing to be determined by the requesting court.
5 Is it permitted to record videoconference hearings and, if so, is the facility available?
Videoconference hearings are normally recorded.
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?
a) As a rule, hearings under Articles 10–12 of Regulation No 1206/2001 are conducted in Polish. If the person to be heard does not speak Polish, it is up to the Polish court, as the requested court, to provide an interpreter. In exceptional circumstances, however, the court may accept an interpreter proposed by a party.
b) Where evidence is taken directly under Article 17 of Regulation No 1206/2001, the requesting court determines whether the services of an interpreter are needed and, if so, selects one. Under Article 17(4) of Regulation No 1206/2001, Poland’s central body may oblige the requesting court to provide interpretation into Polish.
7 If interpreters are required, who is responsible for providing them under both types of hearing and where should they be located?
In the case of a hearing in accordance with Articles 10-12 of Regulation No 1206/2001, the rule is that an interpreter is provided by the Polish court, as the requested court. In exceptional circumstances, however, the court may accept an interpreter proposed by a party. The interpreter should be present in the courtroom where the hearing is being held.
Where evidence is taken directly under Article 17 of Regulation No 1206/2001 and the presence of an interpreter is necessary, it is up to the requesting court to provide the interpreter. Under Article17(4) of Regulation No 1206/2001, Poland’s central body may oblige the requesting court to provide interpretation into Polish. The requesting court decides where the interpreter is to stay during the hearing.
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?
For hearings under Articles 10-12 of Regulation No 1206/2001, the Polish court, as the requested court, notifies the person to be heard of the time and place of the hearing by serving a summons under the Code of Civil Procedure (Articles 131, 133-135 and 137) or by whatever means the court deems appropriate if this is necessary in order to expedite the matter, e.g. telephone, email or SMS, at least 7 days before the date of the hearing. In urgent cases, the court informs the witness/party of the time and place of the hearing 3 days before the date of the hearing (Articles 149 and 149(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure).
Where evidence is taken directly under Article 17 of Regulation No 1206/2001, the requesting court is responsible for notification of the time and place of the hearing. If the Polish central body designates a Polish court to take part in the taking of evidence, the requesting court should set a date for the hearing in accordance with the technical conditions on the Polish side (i.e. depending on where the videoconferencing system is located and when it can be used).
9 What costs apply to the use of videoconferencing and how should they be paid?
Polish courts do not charge fees for conducting videoconferences. As the requested court, a Polish court may, however, ask the requesting court to reimburse the fees of experts and interpreters.
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?
The requesting court is obliged to inform the person to be heard that the hearing can only take place on a voluntary basis, without recourse to coercive measures.
11 What procedure exists for verifying the identity of the person to be examined?
The court verifies a person’s identity on the basis of a document confirming a natural person’s identity or identity and nationality. For a Polish national, that document is an identity card or passport; for a foreign national, it will be a passport, travel document or other valid document proving their identity or identity and nationality. The hearing of a witness begins with questions concerning their person and relationship with the parties.
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?
For hearings under Article 17 of Regulation No 1206/2001, if the requesting court informs the Polish central body of its intention to take evidence from a witness under oath, the central body may request the text of the oath. If the oath conflicts with basic principles of Polish law, the central body is entitled to refuse to agree to the hearing or to request that the text of the oath used in Polish law be employed.
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?
If the videoconference takes place at a Polish court, the court has staff whose responsibility it is to operate the videoconferencing equipment.
14 What, if any, additional information is required from the requesting court?
Generally speaking, no such additional information is required under Polish law. If additional information is nevertheless needed, such information must be written in Polish or accompanied by a translation into Polish.
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