Online Litigation to Become Mandatory

(Kyodo News)

On January 28, 2022, a panel of the Legislative Council (an advisory body to the Minister of Justice), which considers the use of IT in civil trials, compiled a draft outline of amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure and other measures that would allow all procedures, from filing a lawsuit to judgment, to be conducted online by 2025. The government plans to submit a bill to the Diet on 4 February.

In the amendment, the obligation to litigants is limited to online filing by lawyers and other representatives; based on the opinion that consideration should be given to digitally vulnerable people who are not familiar with IT devices, “personal litigation” without appointing a representative is excluded from the obligation to file online.

The court date (oral argument) will be held via web conference, and witness examination, which was previously limited to cases where the witness lived in a remote area, will be possible if the parties do not object. A monitor will be installed in the courtroom where the judge will be present, and it is expected that the lawyers and the parties will be able to communicate with each other via the screen.

In the wake of the Corona disaster, a number of court hearing dates were postponed, exposing the remarkable lag in the use of IT in Japan’s courts. In light of this, there was criticism from the businesses and others that Japan was lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of the convenience and speed of trials. The move to IT is a response to this criticism and should be welcomed from the point of view of them.

All of our lawyers speak English and/or Vietnamese, and we have handled a wide range of cases from all over the country and abroad. If all the procedures of litigation (and mediation of family law cases, which will also be amended in the foreseeable future) are put online, we will be able to respond to our clients’ needs more quickly and accurately.