On March 18, a virtual workshop on the topic of "e-justice" shed light on the state of digital justice in German-speaking countries. Renowned experts from Switzerland, Austria and Germany reported on hurdles and successes on the way to e-justice. Professor Georg Borges moderated the exciting event, which took place as an IRI§ Spring Trimester in cooperation with the German EDV-Gerichtstag and the Research Meets Practice (ReMeP) platform.

The contributions from Austria showed the opportunities that can be created by switching from analog to digital. The goal is to digitalize all processes in the judiciary by 2025. With support from politicians Austria has already successfully implemented many projects said Dr. Gerhard Jelinek, President of the Vienna Higher Regional Court.

In his presentation under the heading "What can e-courts (not) do?" Michael Kunz, presiding judge at the Vienna Higher Regional Court, gave the workshop participants an insight into the digital judicial workplace and presented the heart of the digital file, the electronic integration portal "eIP". The portal, which was developed as part of the "Justice 3.0" project, combines various applications. Whether it's an overview of appointments, task planning, research into topics or documents - with a wide range of filter options, it opens up many possibilities. The digital structuring serves to improve the efficiency of the process. Nevertheless, Kunz emphasized that the transition was already underway. The project counts 170 applications in total.

In theory, Germany is also striving to get ready for the digitalization of e-justice. Dr. Ralf Köbler, president at Darmstadt Regional Court said that a working group made up of representatives from all the higher regional courts has been collecting ideas to modernize legal transactions for some time now. But the German civil service state is still very much attached to the "paper economy (Papierwirtschaft) of the 19th century," causing Köbler to be very doubtful of the willingness of German politicians to actually modernize the judicary. An advantage would be that the electronic file could be accessed from anywhere or several people could work on a file at the same time. Köbler and his working group strongly advocate the abolition of faxes and propose an electronic message room, as well as the transparency of negotiations.

Switzerland is also facing hurdles. The idea of a secure digital justice system is still in its early stages. Only recently, a six-figure sum in Swiss francs was spent on a new archive to accommodate the " mountains of paper". Lukas Huber, Deputy Secretary General at the High Court of the Canton of Zurich, knows about the core problem: consensus. The 26 Swiss cantons can choose for themselves which software to use. Whether it's the high court, the administrative court or the police - each instance uses a different system, thus more than 60 different parties are involved and are expected to work together.

Kerstin Just, a judge at the Vienna Commercial Court, reported on what digitalization looks like in practice. She higlighted that there were problems throughout the transitioning process as participants in court hearings found the technical equipment distracting or annoying, and the switch from paper to on screen hearings difficult. Despite these initial issues it was agreed that the great potential of digitalization outweighed the problems. 

In the discussion that followed and was led by Professor Georg Borges, the speakers exchanged the highlights and downsides of digitalization of e-justice from from different perspectives. Topics were the use of video recording during evidence taking or the inclusion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for organizational purposes. The panel agreed that not all areas of justice can be transformed into a digital act.

The event was organized by Dr. Stefan Eder, partner of Benn-Ibler Rechtsanwälte, CYBLY GmbH as part of a spring trimester of the International Legal Informatics Symposium IRIS under the direction of Professor Erich Schweighofer.


BMAS: ExamAI – KI Testing & Auditing

In the BMAS (Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs) project "ExamAI" Professor Borges' chair develops concepts for auditing and certification of AI applications. Further information: ExamAI


Legal Testbed

The chair of Prof. Borges is developing solutions for Industry 4.0 through the project "Recht-Testbed Industrie 4.0" funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). More...


As part of the »INITIATIVE« project Professor Borges' team is working on AI-supported communication for autonomous vehicles in traffic. Click here to learn more...

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