May 16, 2020 was the effective date for most provisions of the Act of May 14, 2020, amending specific acts in terms of protective actions related to the spread of SARS-CoV2 (Dz. U. / Journal of Laws of 2020, item 875), commonly referred to as “Anti-Crisis Shield 3.0.” Civil procedure has been amended to extend the possibility to conduct remote hearings (videoconferencing) and issue rulings at closed-door sessions.
Pursuant to the newly-adopted Act, the following will apply to cases examined under the Code of Civil Procedure during the state of epidemic or epidemic threat, and for a year of the end of the later of them:
• videoconferencing will be used for court proceedings. In order to have a remote hearing, the parties to the procedure needed to be in court buildings, e.g. in their city/town of residence. Now they will be able to participate without leaving their home. Traditional hearings can be held under exceptional circumstances, as long as they do not pose a major threat to the participants’ health. The lawmaker left ample room for interpretation as regards the criteria to adopt for evaluation whether the hearing will not expose participants to excessive hazard. It seems that such criteria could include the age of participants, their total number, the stage of epidemic, etc.;
• if the court is unable to conduct a remote hearing, while a traditional one might pose a threat to the participants’ health, the court will be entitled to examine the case at a closed-door session, unless any party objects. An objection can be filed within 7 days of the delivery of a notice about a closed-door session. Only individuals that are not represented by a professional legal advisor will be notified about such right to object;
• if so decided by the president of the court, the judging panel (apart from the presiding judge and clerk) may participate in the hearing through means of electronic communication (i.e. they will be able to participate from home), except for the hearing at which the case gets closed;
• in cases where the evidentiary procedure has already been completed, the court may close the case and issue a ruling at a closed-door session, after receiving the parties’ (or participants’) written positions;
• the period of application of article 374 of the Code of Civil Procedure has been extended, making it possible to examine appeals brought before November 07, 2019 at closed-door hearings (unless a party applies for a standard hearing or for evidence involving testimony of witnesses/parties). A request for a standard hearing can be filed within 7 days of the delivery of a notice about a closed-door session. In same of withdrawal of a lawsuit or appeal, or with respect to invalidation of proceedings, the court examines the case at a closed-door hearing.
Please feel free to contact us for any questions you might have.