Changes in evidence proceedings – amendment to the Code of Civil Procedure
On November 7, 2019, a large part of the amendment to the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure introduced by the last amendment will enter into force. Some of them concern evidentiary proceedings and are supposed to accelerate court proceedings. Below are the most important of them.
- evidence contract
The evidence contract is a new solution in civil proceedings, reserved for cases examined in the commercial procedure. It gives parties the opportunity to exclude certain evidence from the proceedings. For example, the parties may stipulate in the contract that evidence of defective goods will be limited to evidence from an expert opinion or that they will not provide evidence that may disclose the trade secrets. Evidence excluded by an evidence contract will not be admitted ex officio.
An evidence contract for its validity will have to be concluded in writing or orally before the court.
- limitation of evidence from witnesses in cases examined in commercial proceedings
Proceedings in business cases are to be based primarily on documentary evidence. Evidence from witness testimonies will be admitted exceptionally by the court, if all other means of evidence have been exhausted or in their absence there are unexplained facts relevant to the resolution of the case.
- hearing plan
If the court carries out preparatory proceedings, it sets a hearing plan in which it decides the parties’ evidence applications. In addition, in the hearing plan, the court may determine the order and time of taking particular evidence.
The parties may cite assertions and evidence until approval of the hearing plan. After this date, the court will disregard new claims and evidence, unless the party makes it probable that their appointment was not possible or the need to appoint them arose later.
The novelty is the possibility for witnesses to testify in writing within the time limit set by the court. Along with the testimony, the witness will make a written promise. If the witness fails to give written evidence on time, he may be subject to a fine.
- notifying the witness of the party’s obligation to appear
The new provision assumes the active efforts of the party to ensure the presence at the hearing of witnesses appointed by experts and other persons. In particular, the party is obliged to inform this person about the time and place of obligatory appearance. However, this provision does not exclude court notifications of these persons.
- automatic admission of documentary evidence
The documents contained in the case files or attached thereto will constitute evidence without issuing a separate order on their admission. Only when the court decides to omit evidence will it issue an appropriate decision.
- facts about which information is publicly available
As with facts known to the court ex officio, facts about which information is publicly available will not require proof. The court should, however, draw the parties’ attention to them, so that they will have the opportunity to verify that the information classified in this way by the court does not, however, require specialist knowledge and, therefore, the taking of evidence from an expert opinion.
- omission of evidence by the court
In the decision omitting the evidence presented by the party, the court will have to indicate the legal basis of the decision. Omission of evidence may be due to, among others the inability to carry it out, the inadequacy to prove a given fact or the lack of a formal request for evidence. The court may also disregard evidence intended only to extend the proceedings, which is to prove an indisputable fact, irrelevant to the resolution of the case or proved in accordance with the applicant’s assertion, which is to prevent procedural obstruction.
In the coming months, it remains to be seen whether the changes actually have a positive impact on accelerating court proceedings.