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Taking evidence by videoconference

Croatia
Content provided by:
European Judicial Network
European Judicial Network (in civil and commercial matters)
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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?

The Civil Procedure Act (Zakon o parničnom postupku) (Narodne Novine (NN; Official Gazette of the Republic of Croatia) Nos 53/91, 91/92, 58/93, 112/99, 88/01, 117/03, 88/05, 02/07, 84/08, 123/08, 57/11, 148/11, 25/13, 89/14, 70/19 and 80/22; hereinafter: the ZPP) lays down the method by which evidence is taken remotely in civil cases. Pursuant to Article 115(3) of the ZPP, the court may order that specific evidence be taken remotely by using appropriate audio-visual devices and a technological platform for remote communication. Article 115(5) of the ZPP specifies that the court will decide on the remote taking of a particular piece of evidence after obtaining observations on the matter from the parties and other participants who are to attend a hearing which will be held remotely.

The conditions for taking evidence using audio-visual devices and a technological platform for remote communication will be set out in greater detail by rules to be issued by the Minister responsible for judicial affairs. Evidence may be taken by videoconference with court participation once the Minister responsible for judicial affairs determines by decision that the technical requirements for the voice recording of a hearing have been met by the individual courts concerned.

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?

Given that the Rules on conditions for taking evidence using audio-visual devices and a technological platform for remote communication have not yet been issued, any restrictions on the type of person who can be examined by videoconference remain to be seen. However, under the provisions of the ZPP, there are no restrictions as to the persons (witnesses, experts and parties) who may give a testimony as a form of evidence in civil proceedings.

3 What restrictions, if any, are there on the type of evidence that can be obtained by videoconference?

The ZPP does not provide for any general restrictions on the type of evidence that may be used to prove certain facts that are crucial for taking a decision on the substance of the matter. Pursuant to Article 115, the court may order that a hearing be held remotely by using appropriate audio-visual devices and a technological platform for remote communication or that specific evidence be taken in the same manner. However, in accordance with Article 115(5) of the ZPP, whether a remote hearing will take place or evidence will be taken remotely is decided by the court upon receiving observations on the matter by the parties and other participants who are to attend a hearing which will be held remotely. Therefore, the court decides in each specific case whether evidence can be taken in that manner or restrictions exist that prevent such taking of evidence.

4 Are there any restrictions on where the person should be examined by videoconference – i.e. does it have to be in a court?

As the Rules on conditions for taking evidence using audio-visual devices and a technological platform for remote communication have not yet been issued, no response can be given on restrictions as to the places where a person can be examined by videoconference.

5 Is it permitted to record videoconference hearings and, if so, is the facility available?

As the Rules on conditions for taking evidence using audio-visual devices and a technological platform for remote communication have not yet been issued, no response can be given.

6 In what language should the hearing be conducted: (a) where requests are made under Articles 12 to 14 of the Taking of Evidence Regulation; and (b) where there is direct taking of evidence under Articles 19 to 21 of the Taking of Evidence Regulation?

Parties and other participants in the proceedings have the right to use their own language when participating in hearings and taking other procedural action orally before the court. If the proceedings are not conducted in the language of the party or other participants in the proceedings, interpreting into their language of what is presented at the hearing and of the documents used at the hearing for presenting the evidence will be provided.

7 If interpreters are required, who is responsible for providing them and where should they be located (a) where requests are made under Articles 12 to 14 of the Taking of Evidence Regulation; and (b) where there is direct taking of evidence under Articles 19 to 21 of the Taking of Evidence Regulation?

Parties and other participants in the proceedings will be informed of their right to follow the oral proceedings before the court in their own language with the assistance of an interpreter. They may waive their right to interpretation by declaring that they know the language in which the proceedings are being conducted. A note of the fact that they have been informed of their right and the declarations provided by the parties and other participants will be made in the record. Interpreting is done by interpreters. Interpreting costs are borne by the party or participant concerned.

8 What procedure applies to the arrangements for the hearing and to notify the person to be examined about the time and place (a) where requests are made under Articles 12 to 14 of the Taking of Evidence Regulation; and (b) where there is direct taking of evidence under Articles 19 to 21 of the Taking of Evidence Regulation? For both options, how much time should be allowed when arranging the date of the hearing to enable the person to receive sufficient notification?

As the Rules on conditions for taking evidence using audio-visual devices and a technological platform for remote communication have not yet been issued, no response can be given.

9 What costs apply to the use of videoconferencing and how should they be paid?

When deciding on the costs of the proceedings, the court will order the party to reimburse only those costs which were necessary for conducting the proceedings. The costs that are necessary and the amount of those costs is decided by the court, examining carefully all the circumstances, taking account, in particular, of the rules governing the preparatory procedure for the main hearing, which involves written submissions, one preparatory hearing and one main hearing.

When a party requests that evidence be taken, they are obliged by court order to deposit in advance the amount required to cover the costs expected in taking the evidence. If the taking of evidence is proposed by both parties or ordered by the court ex officio, the court will request that both parties deposit half the required amount. If the court has ordered that evidence be taken ex officio, it may order the amount to be deposited by only one party.

A party losing the case in its entirety must cover the cost incurred by the opposing party and their intervener in the proceedings. The intervener on the side of the party that loses the case must cover the costs incurred by their actions.

If the parties are partially successful in the case, the court first determines the percentage of success of each of them and then subtracts the percentage of success of the less successful party from the percentage of success of the more successful party, after which it establishes the amount of the specific and total costs of the more successful party in the case that were necessary for proper conduct of the procedure and then reimburses that party for the part of such total costs corresponding to the percentage remaining after taking account of the parties’ percentages of success in the case. The proportion of success in the case is assessed on the basis of the claims granted, account also being taken of the success in providing evidence to back up the claims.

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?

Witnesses receive a written summons specifying the name of the person summoned, the time and venue, the case in respect of which they are summoned, and an indication that they are summoned as witnesses. In the summons, the witnesses are made aware of the consequences of an unjustified absence and of their right to the reimbursement of the costs incurred. The judge informs the witnesses that they may refuse to give testimony about matters confided to them by the party in their capacity of the party’s representative or confessed to them as a religious confessor by the party or another person, and about facts which the witness has learnt as an attorney, doctor or in the performance of any other calling or activity, if there is an obligation to keep confidential what has been learnt in the performance of that calling or activity. Furthermore, a witness may refuse to answer individual questions due to compelling reasons, in particular, if by responding to such question, they would expose themselves, or their lineal blood relative up to any degree, or a collateral blood relative up to the third degree, including their spouse, or relatives by marriage to the second degree – even if the marriage has ended – and their guardian or ward, adopted parent or child, to serious disgrace, significant material damage or criminal prosecution. The single judge or the president of the chamber informs the witness that they may refuse to give answers to the questions asked.

11 What procedure exists for verifying the identity of the person to be examined?

In order to verify their identity, the judge asks the witness to provide their name and surname, personal identification number, the name of their father, occupation, address, place of birth, age and their relationship to 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 Articles 19 to 21 of the Taking of Evidence Regulation?

The court may decide that a witness take an oath on the declarations provided, or that the oath be taken before the witness is heard. The oath is taken orally by saying the following: ‘I swear on my honour that I have answered every question asked by the court truthfully and that I have withheld no information known to me about the matter.’ Mute witnesses who are able to read and write are sworn in by signing the text of the oath, while deaf witnesses take the oath by reading its text. If deaf or mute witnesses cannot read or write, they are sworn in with the help of an interpreter. Where a witness is heard again, they will not retake the oath but will be reminded of the oath already taken. No oath is required from witnesses who, at the time of the hearing, have not reached the age of majority or are incapable of comprehending its meaning.

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?

As the Rules on conditions for taking evidence using audio-visual devices and a technological platform for remote communication have not yet been issued, no response can be given.

14 What, if any, additional information is required from the requesting court?

As the Rules on conditions for taking evidence using audio-visual devices and a technological platform for remote communication have not yet been issued, no response can be given.

Last update: 21/06/2023

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