Deputy Director of the Lithuanian National Courts Administration
Where the digitalisation of courts is concerned, the following e-tools for case management in Lithuanian courts may be determined:
- Lithuanian courts’ informational system, LITEKO
- Recording of court hearings
- E-file system (Lithuanian courts’ electronic service portal)
- Informational pre-trial investigation system (IBPS)
- Remote court hearings
LITEKO is a system that was developed in 2005 and is a database for the judicial information on all cases, procedures, etc. (not only electronic documents), enabling the use of data for the justice service. Some LITEKO functionalities include:
- Electronic/automatic random allocation of cases
- Electronic e-services
- Storage of the audio records of court hearings
- Gathering, management, and storage of electronic information and documents for every case in the centralised database
- Publication of information on the courts’ activities
- Automatically generating statistical reports of the judges and courts’ activities
- The search of documents and other data for the courts’ process in LITEKO, other registers, and databases.
The system is integrated with over 25 registers or informational systems (courts receive and submit data from the courts’ informational system).
From the 1st of July, 2013, the e-file system was introduced in Lithuania – the process whereby participants could submit e-documents to courts in civil and administrative cases; from the 1st of July, 2015, the system was used in administrative offense cases and from the 1st of January, 2020, the procedures in some criminal cases (judicial order in criminal cases) were managed electronically as well.
The court electronic services are accessible for customers via the specific portal, e.teismas.lt, in several convenient ways. The participant, using the e.teismas.lt portal, may log in via the Electronic Government Gateway – the centralised state administrated platform for public electronic services. This platform enables authentication via electronic banking, identity cards, and electronic signatures. While increasing accessibility to the portal, the courts issue the specific accession data for those who, for any reason, may not authenticate via the Electronic Government Gateway, i.e., foreigners.
It is outlined in the law that there is a list of cases that should only be formed electronically and that there are a group of participants who are obliged to receive court documents electronically (e.g. attorneys, notaries, bailiffs, public institutions, etc.). If the case is initiated electronically, the process participant shall only pay 75% of the stamp duty. All documents in the e-case shall be signed electronically or digitalised.
The registered users may initiate case forms and other documents directly in the portal by completing more than 90 forms that are placed in a document list with unique data, and saving them in their own account or personal computer for the later submission to a court. Therefore, a function is available for uploading various external format documents. It is important to point out that this system automatically fills in documents with the pre-existing metadata from the users’ account. Therefore, these instruments allow the formation of procedural documents in a prompt and convenient way.
For the familiarisation of the case material, the user may only need a few clicks. The general information about the case, the documents stored by the court, including the documents provided by the parties, the documents issued by the court, and the records of the court hearings are placed in the electronic case and may be reviewed online, or the documents may be downloaded in ADOC format as soon as the court employee, upon request, grants the necessary rights. For easy access to the course of the case examination, the information on all court proceedings is directly disclosed to the participants who have legal interests in the case via their accounts and are sent by email or short messages by their GSM operator.
For representation in electronic cases, a specific function has been created, and the party may authorise the representative to represent his/her interests. The delegate may get all the information about the case, form and deliver electronic documents in the name of the party, and exercise other representative rights using electronic means. Consequently, due to these functionalities, the use of electronic services among professional lawyers is constantly growing. Also, there is a possibility to delegate the representation for a natural person, as well as a legal entity.
For the broader accessibility of the administrative public services, the specific functionalities for the management of information on the stamp-duty, the imposed expenses of litigation, fines, and even the connection tools for the electronic payment are introduced in the system. The user of the portal, e.teismas.lt, in his/her personal account may count the stamp duty, receive the court rulings binding to pay the litigation costs or fines, form the payment orders, follow up the payment history, and directly pay them via the Internet banking system in all the main state banks. Due to these functionalities, by taking only a few actions in the shortest time, all litigation costs may be covered.
The system possesses functionalities for judicial mediation for secure, prompt, and convenient communication among judicial mediators and the parties in the procedure.
The formation and submission of documents to courts, the acquisition of the case material using electronic means, and the possibility to perform the duties concerning the payment of stamp duty, litigation costs or court imposed fines in only a few clicks were the considerable responsibilities ensured when making the implementation of justice more time efficient and cost-saving. At the end of 2019, there were 68 350 users of the system (54 118 in 2018) and 74% of civil and administrative cases were managed electronically.
Recording of court hearings
According to the national law, the court hearings in civil cases, administrative cases, and cases of an administrative offense shall be carried out with the audio recordings (in criminal cases, the record shall be a part of the protocol). The courts shall have the modern technology required for the fixation of the court proceedings.
This type of record allows people to easily become acquainted with the online qualitative, fair information not only for the court clerks but also for everyone who has the legal right and interest in getting to know this type of information. The fairness, quality, and accessibility to information are the main criteria for introducing this type of information technology in courts. The ability to access the electronic version of court hearings contributes to the aim of becoming familiar with the case material by electronic means.
Informational pre-trial investigation system (IBPS)
Since 2016, the court has carried out the pre-trial investigation actions within the Informational pre-trial investigation system, managed by the Ministry of the Interior. The direct link from LITEKO allows the court to access the system in the most convenient and prompt way.
Video conferencing system for remote court hearings
Due to the growing amount of cross border cases, while seeking lower litigation costs and enhancing the exercise of the constitutional right to a fair trial, the demand for remote court hearings has considerably increased. From the 1st of January 2015, the process participants could attend the court hearing via video conferences; courts were equipped with 18 stationary video conferencing equipment and 5 mobile sets, and all imprisonment institutions in Lithuania were equipped with special video conferencing sets.
The remote court hearings simplify the court procedure not only in cases when one or a few participants are abroad or imprisoned but also when there is a need to protect the victim of the crime and/or the juvenile witness. The introduction of video conferences in courts optimises court proceedings in terms of costs and time used and simplify possibilities for parties to participate in court proceedings by expanding modern information technology in courts. The intention to create such a system has arisen because the number of cases being examined in courts is constantly increasing, as well as the number of pending cases.
The number of remote court hearings instantly increased; in 2019, 2 612 remote court hearings were carried out (1 500 in 2018). Therefore, further equipping of courts will be completed this year.
The expected results of the development of the courts’ information systems include more efficient, transparent court work and, most importantly, the change in the evaluation of the implementation of justice in society. These initiatives shall be continued and the best European Union states’ practice shall be overtaken. Following the changes in the information technologies, the courts’ infrastructure shall constantly be renewed. When the court provides services, the corresponding and follow-up changes will be made in the information technologies, the implementation of justice will be easily accessible, and the exercise of constitutional rights will be more approachable and convenient.