European e-Justice Portal Now Available

The European e-Justice Portal is now available.

The Portal currently provides access to a range of primary, secondary, and tertiary legal information respecting the European Union and its member states.

Click here for a video providing an overview of the Portal.

Here is a summary of the current content and services of the Portal:

  • Primary Law:
    • The Portal describes the major sources of EU law, and provides links to databases containing that law, including EUR-Lex, Summaries of EU Legislation, PreLex, JURIFAST, JURE, and Caselex.
    • The Portal also furnishes a general description of sources of law of the EU member states, and links to the N-Lex database, which enables access to the national legislation of many EU member nations. In addition, the Portal links to several databases containing court decisions from the member states.
    • The Portal describes major sources of public international law, and provides links to databases containing many of those sources, including treaties, and decisions of international tribunals.
  • Secondary and Tertiary Sources: The Portal furnishes information about many aspects of the law and legal systems of the EU and its member states, including:
    • Descriptions of the EU and member states’ judicial systems, with links to courts’ Websites;
    • Descriptions of the legal professions that operate in the EU and its member states, and links to many of those professions’ associations and cooperative networks;
    • Instructions on how to initiate a court proceeding, choose forum and venue, access procedural law, understand which substantive law applies, calculate costs, and obtain legal aid;
    • Guidance on engaging in particular types of legal proceedings, including civil and commercial matters (European Payment Order, European Small Claims Procedure, and insolvency), family law, and enforcement of judgments;
    • Descriptions of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services available at the EU and member-state levels, with links to services that help individuals locate ADR providers;
    • Descriptions of crime victims’ rights in the EU, and compensation that may be available to crime victims in each member state;
    • Descriptions of the EU’s cross-border judicial cooperation arrangements, and policies and providers respecting videoconferencing in cross-border judicial proceedings;
    • Descriptions of EU and member states’ business, land, and insolvency registers, with links to many of these registers;
    • Guidance on locating a lawyer, notary, legal translator, or ADR professional for legal matters at the EU or member-state level;
    • Descriptions of and links to several legal glossaries and thesauri covering EU and/or member states’ laws;
    • Descriptions of resources about the training of judges in the EU and among member states;
    • Descriptions of justice-related grant opportunities funded by the European Commission.

Further, on its front page, the Portal presents these sources and services in different ways for particular user groups, including citizens, businesses, legal practitioners, and the judiciary.

More databases and services are to be added to the Portal in the future. According to a June 2010 press release issued by the Council of the European Union, the Portal’s content and functions are to be introduced in stages, as follows:

  • firstly, access to law and information at EU and national level (N-Lex, EUR-Lex, case-law), including pan-European databases (e.g. to find a lawyer or notary in another Member State);
  • secondly, electronic communication between a judicial authority and the citizen (submission of applications to court, exchange of documents in court proceedings, such as the European order for payment procedure etc.); and
  • thirdly, secure communication between judicial authorities in the cross-border context (information about videoconferencing, its availability and possibilities, secure exchange of legal assistance requests etc.).

Click here for an October 2009 EU presentation about the databases to be included in the portal.

Click here for the Council’s Multi annual European e-justice action plan 2009-2013 (OJ 2009/C 75/01), which provides more details about the portal.

According to the announcement on the Portal’s Website, the Portal appears to have begun public operations on 14 July 2010. The premiere of the Portal occurred two days earlier than had been anticipated.

For more information, please see the Portal site.

Thanks to Ronald van den Hoogen for announcing the availability of the Portal, and to Benjamin Lesjak for the background documents.

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