Statement on the Enactment of the Act Partially Amending the Code of Civil Procedure
The Act partially amending the Code of Civil Procedure was enacted by the Diet during its 208th ordinary session.
The amendment adopts provisions concerning the introduction of Information Technology (IT), such as the online submission of complaints and other documents, the digitization of case records, and holding oral arguments and other conferences by web conferencing, to keep up with current developments in IT.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (the “JFBA”) has argued that the use of IT is an important matter in judicial proceedings and should be promoted to expand access to justice and achieve more proper and prompt dispute resolution through adequate trials. The adoption of provisions concerning the introduction of IT in civil litigation proceedings deserves acclaim as a big step forward in using IT in judicial proceedings because it has been pointed out that Japan is delayed in the introduction of IT in judicial proceedings compared to other countries.
Considering the requirement that attorneys submit complaints and other documents online, the JFBA will offer training courses to its members in an effort to ensure that the amendment will take root promptly. These efforts will also contribute to the introduction and development of IT in civil litigation proceedings to improve its accessibility by citizens through the examination of the operation of the new procedure and the publication of proposals for improvements. In addition, the JFBA, in accordance with the amendment, will work on supporting self-represented parties who have difficulty navigating the IT by coordinating with public entities such as courts and the Japan Legal Support Center and improving the support in line with the “Basic Policy on Supporting Self-Represented Parties in the Introduction of IT in Civil Litigation Proceedings” dated September 12, 2019, published by the JFBA.
The system development and structure for the implementation of the amendment must be carried out by ensuring information security, protecting privacy and trade secrets, and enhancing its usability (effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction). The JFBA requests that courts, which are responsible for the implementation, reflect the opinions of system users including attorneys, and make continuous improvements.
Several issues were pointed out in the process of making the amendment. It is necessary to consider measures including further amendments to address the issues such as giving procedural consideration to people with disabilities and setting the proper fees for filing a lawsuit in line with the introduction of IT in judicial proceedings. We should strictly refrain from making arguments leading to poor access to justice, such as abolishing and consolidating court branches. It is also essential to design a system that prevents the introduction of IT from enabling the provision of legal services by non-attorneys. In addition, the JFBA will continue to actively research and make proposals on the issues such as expanding means to gather information and evidence and extending the retention period of case records. Furthermore, it is important to further examine the operation of the new proceedings within a period fixed by law to prevent impairing the right to a trial. The JFBA will also work with courts to ensure the proper operation of the newly adopted measure to protect confidential information, such as the names of crime victims, etc.
The JFBA will use the introduction of IT as a springboard, rather than taking this amendment as an end, to re-examine the trial process in civil court proceedings and other proceedings from the perspective of enhancing trials, resolving disputes properly and promptly, reforming the system, and continue improving the operation of the amended Code, in a tireless effort to realize a more readily and easily accessible civil justice system.
May 20, 2022
President of Japan Federation of Bar Associations