COVID-19 Response: Regional Framework Project on Digital Transformation of Courts - Development of Online Courts for Small Claims

Location:

Regional

TCRS Number:

14481

Business sector:

Legal reform

Notice type:

Public

Status:

Approved

PSD disclosed:

15 Mar 2021

Project Description

The recent lockdown due to COVID-19 has significantly limited access to one of the essential public services that businesses need – court services. This happened in a system already overburdened by caseload and critiqued for its limited accessibility because of high costs, lengthy court proceedings, and high complexity making it difficult for businesses, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular, to effectively defend their rights and interests.

In an Enterprise Survey conducted by the EBRD, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank Group, 17% of the firms reported that courts are a “major” or “very severe” obstacle to their operation.  Costs associated with court proceedings are one of the most significant barriers for SMEs. The EU Eurobarometer reported that, while 51% of large enterprises reported that costs of court proceedings are satisfactory, only 24% of SMEs did so (European Commission (2012), ‘Business-to-Business Alternative Dispute Resolution in the EU’, Flash Eurobarometer 347.)  The data are alarming as SMEs amount to 99% of the entire business community in the EU and represent the largest business community in EBRD countries of operation (CoOs).

The point of departure for the proposed Project is that the existing modus operandi of the judiciary does not meet the needs of those who seek justice, in particular the SMEs. In addition, SMEs have been significantly affected by the pandemic.  Before there was COVID-19, a number of jurisdictions have created successful online courts specialising in resolution of civil and commercial matters including the UK, Canada, US, Australia and Singapore. Online courts meaning a dispute resolution proceeding conducted by default online, starting from claim submission and ending with the delivery of judgement, accessible directly to litigants and their representatives and augmented by services and tools to ease access to justice and litigant participation.

In May 2020, the Legal Transition Team (LTT) conducted a survey among 20 EBRD CoOs  (Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Romania, Serbia, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.) to obtain information about the most recent developments in their court digitalisation processes. The information was provided by law firms. The questions focused on the risk of postponement and backlogs amid COVID-19, the availability of a case management system for courts and online information system available to litigants and attorneys, as well as the use of remote hearings by courts. The findings from the survey were used to then draft and circulate a discussion paper, which provides a brief overview of existing best practice in several jurisdictions, as well as key challenges that other jurisdictions should be aware of before establishing online courts. In October, EBRD organized a webinar with keynote speakers from the UK, Canada, Estonia, and Ukraine to discuss the experience and lessons learned from the process of establishing online courts.

The Project will build on the above-mentioned activities in order to assist EBRD CoOs in Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and Caucasus, as well as Central Asia in developing online courts for small claims. The Projects consists of two components, that will be implemented in a staged approach:

Component 1 – Cross-Regional Court Performance Assessment, which aims to define a set of performance indicators and standards for commercial and online courts. Based on such indicators, an assessment of the current status of commercial courts in selected jurisdictions in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Western Balkans will take place. The next step will be to test the indicators in two jurisdictions and then roll out the assessment to another eight jurisdictions. Preliminary research on online courts and international practices related to their development was conducted by the EBRD and can be found in the Documents section here.

Component 2 – Online Court Development, which aims to gradually implement online courts for small claims in selected CoOs, based on an initial piloting in one jurisdiction (tentatively, Ukraine) and then rolled out to selected jurisdictions in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Western Balkans. The success of the pilot online court for small claims is expected to be a pre-requisite for the roll out of the initiative to other countries and building on its replicability.   

The Project implementation will involve active consultations with the relevant country authorities, including the Ministries of Justice, the E-Governance Agencies, Bar Associations, Judicial Councils/Councils of Magistracy or other relevant institutions.

The Project will be led by LTT in close coordination with the IT Insight and Innovation Team, Governance & Political Affairs and Corporate Strategy.

Understanding Transition

Further information regarding the EBRD’s approach to measuring transition impact is available here.

Business opportunities

Procurement notice for this technical assistance project is published on EBRD’s electronic procurement platform SMART by GEP. Please access procurement notice №PR001982 “Regional: Cross-Regional Court Performance Assessment” for more information and to make an application.

Registration is required to view the procurement notice. For assistance during registration, contact the GEP Helpdesk: support@gep.com.

For business opportunities or procurement, contact the client company.

For business opportunities with EBRD (not related to procurement) contact:

Tel: +44 20 7338 7168
Email: projectenquiries@ebrd.com

For state-sector projects, visit EBRD Procurement:

Tel: +44 20 7338 6794
Email: procurement@ebrd.com

Any competitive selections for business opportunities relating to this project will be published on the EBRD's website: Consultancy Procurement Opportunities.

General enquiries

EBRD project enquiries not related to procurement:
Tel: +44 20 7338 7168
Email: projectenquiries@ebrd.com

Access to Information Policy (AIP)

The AIP sets out how the EBRD discloses information and consults with its stakeholders so as to promote better awareness and understanding of its strategies, policies and operations following its entry into force on 1 January 2020. Please visit the Access to Information Policy page to find out what information is available from the EBRD website.

Specific requests for information can be made using the EBRD Enquiries form

Independent Project Accountability Mechanism (IPAM)

If efforts to address environmental, social or public disclosure concerns with the Client or the Bank are unsuccessful (e.g. through the Client’s Project-level grievance mechanism or through direct engagement with Bank management), individuals and organisations may seek to address their concerns through the EBRD’s Independent Project Accountability Mechanism (IPAM).

IPAM independently reviews Project issues that are believed to have caused (or to be likely to cause) harm. The purpose of the Mechanism is: to support dialogue between Project stakeholders to resolve environmental, social and public disclosure issues; to determine whether the Bank has complied with its Environmental and Social Policy or Project-specific provisions of its Access to Information Policy; and where applicable, to address any existing non-compliance with these policies, while preventing future non-compliance by the Bank.

Please visit the Independent Project Accountability Mechanism webpage to find out more about IPAM and its mandate; how to submit a Request for review; or contact IPAM  via email ipam@ebrd.com to get guidance and more information on IPAM and how to submit a request.

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