Germany and Austria developed an IT application for the electronic processing of the European order for payment procedure. The development of a comprehensive benefit for all Member States was of special significance in the project. A pilot application was developed first that can be expanded to all Member States for their individual use. The application reflects the complete process of the European order for payment procedure as required by the Regulation No. 1896/2006. The starting point of the project was the observation that the European order for payment procedure shows numerous parallels to the national dunning procedures in Austria. First models were developed following the existing automatic processes in the Austrian judiciary. On 12 December 2008 when the European payment order procedure came into force the IT application jointly developed by Germany and Austria was put into operation in the latter States. In the first five months more than 1.200 claims with a total value of about 27 Million â‚¬ were electronically handled without significant problems. The court clerks in Germany and Austria are very familiar with the IT application and appreciate this support. On 1 July 2009 Austria will appoint one district court centrally in Vienna for all payment orders.
After raising an objection against the payment order the contradictory procedure takes place at the competent local court.
Benefits and Impact:
With the exception of necessary national features the IT application for this procedure is fundamentally suitable for use in the entire EU.
Furthermore, several elements of this IT system could be used mutatis mutandis and thus reduce the time and the money required for its development. The surface scheme in particular and the corresponding programming framework provided a good basis to develop templates for processing a case efficiently.
The basic outline is the core of the application and can be used in all EU Member States. It is equipped with language and currency modules so it can be adjusted easily to any national environment. The application had to be adapted first to the existing infrastructure. It was prepared for use in the German and Austrian variations of electronic justice systems. The systems were, however, always built in a modular way so that other Member States have the possibility to exchange components with their own national implementation structure. Any other protocols or data flows can be added as desired and with only little effort can be used elsewhereâ€“ e.g. for other electronic justice systems. This ensures a universal usability of the developed service in all Member States. The application was available by the time the European order for payment procedure entered into force on 12 December 2008. Thanks to its modular structure and the use of open standards, the basic version can subsequently and continuously be extended in additional steps.
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â To simplify cross border procedures the establishment of procedural rules alone is not sufficient; additionally an uncomplicated access to the procedures for all EU citizens and a swift and efficient processing at the courts within the legal framework are needed.
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â An EU wide IT application open to all member States can be created in an efficient way by using and modifying an existing national IT application.
Â - Â To make sure, that the steps for the technical implementation are in line with the legal requirements in all their details and correspond to the practical needs of the parties in a procedure, when establishing an IT application within the framework of eGovernment it is essential that technical work is closely assisted by legal experts experienced in the particular field.
The European order for payment procedure established by Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006 is meant to simplify and accelerate cross border procedures for the enforcement of uncontested claims. In addition to these procedural rules it was necessary to provide a swift and efficient processing at the courts within the legal framework and â€“ in a middle term perspective - an uncomplicated access to the procedures for all EU citizens. This was only possible by automating the process at all levels. The application developed by Austria and Germany reflects the complete process of the European order for payment procedure as required by the Regulation No. 1896/2006 (all Member States except Denmark need to comply with the process outlined in the Regulation). According to general EU provisions, the technical procedure uses open standards and follows a modular scheme. Several language and currency modules and necessary interfaces for its integration into different infrastructures enable its universal application.
The case is mainly meant as a contribution for reaching two general objectives having a share on the single market policy of the European Union. On the one hand, the elimination of impediments for a smooth functioning of cross-border civil procedures is supported and on the other hand the access to justice for private individuals and companies is made easier. The implementation of Regulation (EC) No. 1896/2006 is the specific objective of the project and in particular its effective and future-proof application for the European order for payment procedure. In the outcome all three objectives intertwine. The European order for payment procedure is the first cross-border civil litigation procedure to be harmonised by an EU Regulation. It was therefore especially important to make the procedure run smoothly, effectively, uniformly and in a future-proof way. This issue could only be solved by an appropriate IT application. The universal IT application and its wide usability not only grant appropriate technical support to courts, but in the medium term will also offer convenient access to the procedure for EU citizens and companies via the eJustice Portal. Creditors in particular can benefit from the improvement in the procedure. Thus, the purpose of the European order for payment procedure as laid down in Article 1 of the Regulation (EC) No. 1896/2006 stating that the litigation in cross-border cases concerning uncontested claims shall be simplified and speed up, is supported in practical terms. Therefore the application is an invaluable contribution to cross-border eService and information-sharing having a great impact on mobility for citizens and businesses across the European Union.
Description of target users and groups
The IT-based processing tool is beneficial for the courts and their staff, because their work does not have to be done in manual stages any longer and therefore becomes faster and smoother. Additionally, there is a better overview of the progress of any given procedure. All these aspects are also positive for the other parties in the procedure. Being able to receive up-to-date information from the courts easily is another great advantage for the applicants in payment procedures. Such a service also supports the companiesâ€™ call for less bureaucracy and increased efficiency. In the process of further extending the IT system (as it is done now), the parties will have improved access to the procedure. The advantages start with the possibility to receive information about the course of the procedure and the responsibilities, are followed by the electronic submission and can include tracking a procedure in real time once the system is further developed. Such an EU-wide IT application is an innovation in civil litigation procedures.
Description of the way to implement the initiative
The organisational structure/management: There are three general cooperation partners, i.e. for Germany the Senate Administration of Justice of the Land of Berlin represented by the Local Court in Wedding and for Austria the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Federal Computing Centre. Due to Germanyâ€™s federal structure the internal responsibilities are further diversified. In addition to the Senate Administration of Justice acting on behalf of all the other LÃ¤nder at the same time, the German Federal Ministry of Justice is also involved and accompanies the project.
To grant effective coordination and decision-making, the steering committee is at the top of the project bodies. The Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice, the Federal Computing Centre, the Senate Administration of Justice and (as an advisor) the German Federal Ministry of Justice convene and take the fundamental decisions in this executive body. The technical service provider is another member of the board and is represented by a senior manager. At middle project level, the project management is in charge of the project and its supervision. Executive staff of the cooperation partners and representatives of the service provider from Germany and Austria belong to the project management level. Technical staff and experts from the cooperation partners and the service providers make up the operational level and are grouped according to the different sections of the project. The judiciary officers and IT developers do the actual technical work at this level. Other Member States are kept informed through the information and advisory bodies. The evaluation of the project in the sense of assessing the results is undertaken internally among the cooperation partners.
The cooperation partners decided on the following partnership strategy: Germany provided the analysis of the business processes on the basis of applicable EU legislation. In addition to that, Germany headed and still heads the consortium. Austria provided those IT modules from its own national payment procedure that are suitable for wider use and further development. Austria also provided its special knowledge about the use of the modules and the IT automation of court processes in general. This partnership strategy guaranteed and guarantees an optimal knowledge and human resource management.
When it comes to risk management, the effective partnership strategy of constant communication and consultation between the project partners combined with the organisational structure and the extensive knowledge therein guarantees the minimisation of possible risks. Furthermore, the steering committee avouches prompt decision making in cases of unanticipated occurrence of problems.
In the whole process of developing the application it was essential that the steps for the technical implementation were in line with the legal requirements in all their details and correspond to the practical need of the parties in a payment procedure. This is why the project partners made sure that the technical work was closely assisted by legal experts who are experienced in the respective national payment procedures and have extensive knowledge of the European order for payment procedure; thereby effective management of human resources, maintenance, evaluation and knowledge was and is achieved and guaranteed throughout the whole development process.
The European Payment Order (EuPO) solution had to follow the principles of usability. Intuitive screens and quick navigation in the user interface was a major requirement. There was the choice of either using the web technology for user interface for ease of software distribution, versus the Java rich client technology for rich user experience. We had to provide rich text processing and personal text templates. Therefore the rich user experience way was chosen by leveraging the Austrian framework for Java client technology. It allowed us, for instance, to easily provide national language support and user configurable screens and templates.
Because the EuPO system must be capable of being deployed in each member state separately, interoperability with the various national systems was a major design principle. First of all it is kept independent from the relational database system product used. Second it is kept independent from the content management system for document storage. Third, it provides plug-in mechanisms to adapt any central printing facility such as the Austrian fully automated printing and enveloping system.
Pluggability is also the principle used for the integration of electronic delivery systems such as the Austrian ERV (Elektronischer Rechtsverkehr) or the German EGVP (Elektronisches Gerichts- und Verwaltungspostfach). All those possible integration points are taken into account as plug-in points where the EuPO system is open for any interface adoption. The common standard for communication between computers is SOAP over HTTP in the EuPO solution. Thus the Java rich client application is fully compatible with any server technology over SOAP. Communication is kept secure and encrypted by using HTTPs with server certificates.
As platform for services, actually the open glassfish application server is being used. Other open source software, such as Apache IBATIS, is used in the service components. Furthermore, the standard application programming interfaces (APIs) of the Java 5 platform are used. No proprietary API is used. As a result, there is a broad bandwidth of possible client and server platforms where the EuPO application can be deployed.Technology choice: Mainly (or only) open standards
Main results, benefits and impacts
Now there is an IT system to support the processing of the European order for payment procedure operational as an application in the local Court in Wedding and the competent district courts in Austria. It consists of a basic version and covers the fields of â€œcase managementâ€, â€œtext modulesâ€, â€žarchivingâ€œ and â€žstatisticsâ€œ. The processing of an application in the context of payment procedures at the courts is simplified in the following points: Â
- The desk officers receive an electronic â€œfile cover pageâ€œ, containing the most important procedural data which is always accessible.
- There is a â€œdirectoryâ€ of the progress of the procedure which is shown as a table. In the overview, all the stages of the procedure that have already been accomplished appear in chronological order. Court communication is permanently archived and is available for further processing.
- The â€ždirectoryâ€œ is the basis for all further steps to be taken such as developing documents, forms, memos and for cost accounting purposes. It is also used for providing up-to-date information at any time.
- A text editor helps access the text modules with standard phrases for most complaints, queries and communications. Further text modules can be generated and stored as required.
Â - Statistical data can be collected and processed for future evaluations of the European order for payment procedure (see Art. 32 of the Regulation (EC) No. 1896/2006 â€œBy 12 December 2013, the Commission shall present to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee a detailed report reviewing the operation of the European order for payment procedure. That report shall contain an assessment of the procedure as it has operated and an extended impact assessment for each Member State. To that end, and in order to ensure that best practice in the European Union is duly taken into account and reflects the principles of better legislation, Member States shall provide the Commission with information relating to the cross-border operation of the European order for payment. This information shall cover court fees, speed of the procedure, efficiency, ease of use and the internal payment order procedures of the Member States. The Commission's report shall be accompanied, if appropriate, by proposals for adaptationâ€) and internal workflows.
For further details on the features of the application please consult the attached PowerPoint presentation. Please note that due to the fact that it was only possible to upload files in the size of 2 Mb, the attached presentation does not cover every aspect of the application - especially not every form, the application provides.
The numerous use of the offered IT-method is also evidence of the profitableness of the application. To illustrate: In the time period 12 December 2008 until the end of May 2009 in Austria 592 actions were brought in and processed, in Germany 693. It has to be mentioned that also the user satisfaction in the courts is remarkably good because from the beginning of the project the judges and special court clerks (Rechtspfleger) were involved in the development.
The IT application provides monthly updated figures for the amount of the new cases in Germany and Austria. The attached statistics show an average value of each claim of 21.400 â‚¬.
Since the application can be expanded to all EU member States, the impact is not only national but EU wide. As a late-breaking German Study from 25 May 2009 clearly validated, the application has a positive impact on the implementation of Regulation No. 1896/2006 in terms of monetary as well as quality aspects.
The importance of the application is also substantiated by a â€œFeasibility Studyâ€ done by the European Commission evaluating the possibilities for supporting the execution of the European order for payment procedure process with electronic means (Final Report; P-01293-01-500/MI.01.01/AR 284_JLS Order for Payment_Final_Report_v1.1.doc/V1.1). In this study it is stated that â€œâ€¦a minimal intervention is needed in the form of a pan-European interoperability layer... The long-term vision is therefore to have Member State systems (automating national Orders for Payment), being properly adapted to cover European functionality (according to specifications provided) and interconnected through the interoperability layer. To the extent that the Community is willing to speed-up the process, it can choose between two other alternatives. These describe systems that can be readily used in the context of the European Order for Payment and which contain modules that could be re-used in national systems under development. Some of these modules can come from the existing pilot project of Austria and Germanyâ€.
The extension of the basic version of the application for electronic implementation of the European order for payment procedure is an up to date project of the Land of Berlin (coordinator), the Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice, the Austrian Federal Computing Centre and IBM Germany. The extension is will include electronic data filing with access to eJustice, a plausibility check and deadline management - all mechanisms that could be explored for exchange, transfer and replication.
Return on investmentReturn on investment: Not applicable / Not available
Track record of sharing
In the year 2007 the project developing an IT application for the electronic processing of the European order for payment procedure between Germany represented by the Land of Berlin, Senate Administration for Justice, Local Court in Wedding and Austria, represented by the Federal Ministry of Justice, started. The long-time IT-experiences of both partners in the area of the national electronic processing of payment procedures (Germany even since the early eighties)Â enabled efficient cross-border cooperation, which is useful for Austria, Germany as well as for other countries. The partners reused fundamental parts of the Austrian justice IT-program called Automation of Court Procedures, which was created in 1986 for the national electronic processing of payment procedures, for the European context. The date coming into force on 12 December 2008, the expense factor and the need to create a general solution (instead of a lot of parallel national solutions) as well as the possibility to benefit from the wide experience of the respective project partner were reasons for the chosen cooperation. A solo attempt would have been ineffective. Because of the further integration of IBM Germany, IBM Austria and the Federal Computing Centre of Austria the partnership is particularly a cross-territorial public-public one, in addition a cross-territorial public-private one.
As already mentioned the extension of the basic version of the pilot for electronic implementation of the European order for payment procedure is an up to date project of the Land of Berlin (coordinator), the Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice, the Austrian Federal Computing Centre and IBM Germany and will include electronic data filing with access to eJustice, a plausibility check and deadline management, all mechanisms that could be explored for exchange, transfer and replication.
The application can be equipped for use in all European Member States with all their different IT infrastructures, contains language and currency modules and all necessary components for integration into portals and participation in electronic justice systems, and therefore serves the single market by providing an Instrument of cross-border e-Service.
A lot of European member states in particular France, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, United Kingdom, showed a great interest in the project (these countries were vested with the status of an observer and are regularly informed about ongoing developments). The reactions confirm the great success of the application.
There is no license fee or software costs for the solution. Only for further developments joining countries would be expected to contribute a service charge. This service charge would be used for further developments of the solution, which include â€œElectronic application submissionâ€, â€œValidation and verification of claim dataâ€, â€œElectronic exchange between courts and countriesâ€, â€œAutomated scanningâ€, â€œBatch printingâ€ and â€œIncorporation of authentication and authorizationâ€.
There is another current project of the Land of Berlin, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice (coordinator), the Austrian Federal Computing Centre, the Ministry of Justice of Nordrhein-Westfalen, the Ministry of Justice of the Netherlands, the Ministry of Justice of Romania and the cadastre of the Netherlands. The project is called â€œConcept for Cross border Electronic Filingâ€; its outcome is a high-level design for an interoperable European legal communication platform. This will include harmonised process activities and business rules, security standards, and an IT design of the platform. For this project as well as for the extension of the basic version of the European payment order procedure, European subsidies in the amount of â‚¬ 500.000, -- for each project have been requested. Whether these subsidies are conceded is not decided yet.
To simplify cross border procedures the establishment of procedural rules alone is not sufficient. Additionally there is always the need to provide uncomplicated access to the procedures for all EU citizens and swift and efficient processing within the legal framework. Granting such an access is possible, but intense cross-border cooperation and cooperation with private partners is needed in this context.
Still, it is not always easy to stay within the legal framework and make sure, that all procedural rules imposed by a regulation are and stay obeyed. To ensure that the steps for the technical implementation are in line with the legal requirements, when establishing an IT application within the framework of eGovernment it is essential that technical work is closely assisted by legal experts experienced in the particular field.
Moreover within the development of the application it became obvious, that national IT Projects in the fields of eGovernment never lack a European dimension. So when developing new projects or pilots, it is almost inevitable to bare in mind that an application might one day also serve each and every member State and, even more important each and every EU citizen.
That the European payment order application definitely has potential for sharing good practice is confirmed in the already cited â€œFeasibility Studyâ€ by the European Commission (Final Report; P-01293-01-500/MI.01.01/AR 284_JLS Order for Payment_Final_Report_v1.1.doc/V1.1), when it points out that â€œsubstantial gains and other benefits could be realised, if synergy with the Pilot Project of Austria/Germany is establishedâ€. According to this study, â€œsome Member states (e.g. IT, UK, PT, FR, AT, SI, EE, FI, DE) already dispose of an electronic system in support of their national Order for Payment procedure or plan to implement such system in the coming years. Most of those MS would prefer to enhance their system rather than building a new one. Â Some Member States (e.g. HU, CY, LTâ€¦) have nothing and would be keen to receive a turnkey packaged system that they might also possibly re-use or enhance in order to support their national Order for Payment procedures. Â Some countries (e.g. HU, LV, SK, NLâ€¦) are closely following the works of the Council e-Justice workgroup on the electronic implementation of the European Order for Payment procedure. Those MS may decide to implement the solution developed by Germany and Austria within the context of the e-Justice program.â€ This analysis of the present situation emphasizes the potential for sharing good practice of the application developed by Austria and Germany in this area.
The application also has the capability for sharing good practice in other policy contexts. For instance the European Small Claims Procedure established by Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 is in some aspects (use of forms for filing a claim, possibility of decision making without contradictory procedure) similar to the European payment order procedure. Thus, lessons learned when developing the European payment order procedure could be used for the development of an EU wide application for the small claims procedure.Scope: Cross-border, International, National, Pan-European