Coronavirus vs. courts activity

19.03.2020

Due to the state of the epidemic threat, common courts, administrative courts and the Supreme Court have limited their activities. In the courts, direct customer service has been suspended and reduced to telephone and electronic contact. This means that access for review of court files has been limited. Hearings have also been canceled in most courts until 31th March 2020, except for urgent cases. The decision whether to cancel particular hearings has been taken by the presidents of particular courts by way of ordinances. The catalogue of urgent cases in which hearings can still be held has not been adopted consistently by all courts. Some courts refer to the definition of urgent case in § 2 section 5 of the  rules of internal procedure of common courts, while others have created their own catalogues of such cases. The list of urgent cases is indicated generally in the orders of the courts’ presidents.

It cannot be ruled out that the ongoing state of the epidemic threat will cause all hearings to be cancelled until the end of April 2020. According to information provided by the Ministry of Justice, works are currently in progress, the aim of which is to amend the Act of 2 March 2020 on specific solutions related to the prevention and eradication of COVID-19, other infectious diseases and crisis situations caused by them. The aim of the amendment is to introduce a unified catalogue of urgent cases, rules for the functioning of courts including the possibility of suspending the operation of some courts in general (which means closing the court and the taking over of its tasks by another court), and to regulate procedural and substantive time limits, as well as to form some legal relationships. The Minister of Development is coordinating work on this amendment. The project has not yet been published.

Because of the lack of unified regulation of court operations during the state of epidemic threat, we recommend checking the current orders of the courts’ presidents and contacting the courts by phone in order to determine whether a hearing in a specific case will take place on the scheduled date.