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Taking evidence by videoconference

Czech Republic
Content provided by:
European Judicial Network
European Judicial Network (in civil and commercial matters)

1 Is it possible for evidence to be taken by videoconference either with the participation of a court in the requesting Member State or directly by a court of that Member State? If yes, what are the relevant national procedures or laws that apply?

The procedure is governed both by Act No 99/1963 (the Civil Procedure Code, as amended) and also – primarily – by Ministry of Justice Instruction No 505/2001 issuing internal and office rules for district, regional and supreme courts.

Pursuant to Section 10a of Ministry of Justice Instruction No 505/2001, the chairman of a panel of judges (a sole judge) may use technical equipment for video and audio transmission ('a videophone') in order to hear a witness or an expert if this is appropriate from the point of view of protecting the rights or ensuring the safety of persons or necessary for security or other compelling reasons, and if it is technically possible.

2 Are there any restrictions on the type of person who can be examined by videoconference – for example, is it only witnesses or can others such as experts or parties also be examined in this way?

Pursuant to Section 11a of Ministry of Justice Instruction No 505/2001, experts as well as witnesses may be heard by videophone.

3 What restrictions, if any, are there on the type of evidence that can be obtained by videoconference?

A videophone may be used to hear witnesses and experts only.

4 Are there any restrictions on where the person should be examined by videoconference – i.e. does it have to be in a court?

If the chairman of a panel of judges (a sole judge) agrees to hear a witness or an expert via videophone, the place at which the witness or expert is to report for the hearing will be stated in the summons. In other words, other spaces that are appropriate for a hearing (for example, the place in which experts or witnesses are present, such as a hospital or a laboratory) may also be used.

5 Is it permitted to record videoconference hearings and, if so, is the facility available?

The essence of a witness's testimony is recorded. Parts of a testimony may have to be recorded verbatim. Alternative methods are to have the whole testimony recorded by an official recorder or to obtain an audio recording or video and audio recording if there is legal provision for so doing so or if the chairman of a panel of judges (a sole judge) decides that such methods may be used.

6 In what language should the hearing be conducted: (a) where requests are made under Articles 10 to 12; and (b) where there is direct taking of evidence under Article 17?

If a witness does not know the language in which the hearing is conducted, he or she is entitled to an interpreter under Article 37(4) of Constitutional Act No 2/1993 (the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms). Pursuant to Section 18(2) of the Civil Procedure Code, a court will appoint an interpreter for a party whose mother tongue is a language other than Czech as soon as such need becomes apparent in the proceedings.

7 If interpreters are required, who is responsible for providing them under both types of hearing and where should they be located?

Under Section 18(1) and (2) of Civil Procedure Code, a court is required to provide the parties with the same opportunities to exercise their rights and to appoint an interpreter for any party whose mother tongue is a language other than Czech as soon as such need becomes apparent in the proceedings.

8 What procedure applies to the arrangements for the hearing and to notify the person to be examined about the time and place? How much time should be allowed when arranging the date of the hearing to enable the person to receive sufficient notification?

When serving a summons on a person, the court proceeds in accordance with Section 51 of the Civil Procedure Code. Unless the law or a special legal regulation stipulates other requirements for a summons, the summons must contain the following information: the case in which the person summoned is to appear, the subject, place and starting time of the court action, the reason for the summons, the status of the summoned person in the proceedings, the obligations of a summoned person during the court action and, where appropriate, the expected duration of that action. A summons may be served in paper or electronic form and, in urgent cases, by telephone or telefax. If a witness or expert hearing is to take place by videophone and the person to be heard is to appear for the hearing in the district of another court, the court in whose district the person is to appear for the hearing serves the summons and the requesting court asks the other court to cooperate in performing this act (letter of request). Pursuant to Section 115(2) of the Civil Procedure Code, summons must be served to the parties in such a manner that they have enough time to prepare (usually at least 10 days before the date on which the hearing is to take place), unless there is a preliminary hearing.

9 What costs apply to the use of videoconferencing and how should they be paid?

The use of videoconferencing entails transmission costs. The transmission of information should be paid for by the requesting court that initiates the videoconference.

10 What requirements, if any, are there for ensuring that the person examined directly by the requesting court has been informed that the performance shall take place on a voluntary basis?

Pursuant to Section 126(1) of the Civil Procedure Code, any natural person who is not a party to proceedings is required to appear in court when summonsed and to give testimony as a witness. Persons may refuse to give testimony only if doing so would expose them or persons close to them to the risk of criminal prosecution. Prior to the start of a hearing, witnesses are always informed of the significance of their testimony, of their rights and obligations and of the penal consequences of false testimony.

11 What procedure exists for verifying the identity of the person to be examined?

At the start of a hearing, the court is required under Section 126(2) of the Civil Procedure Code to ascertain a witness's identity. This is usually done by asking the witness to present his or her identity card or passport.

12 What requirements for taking oaths apply and what information is needed from the requesting court when an oath is required during direct taking of evidence under Article 17?

Pursuant to Section 104(1) of Act No 91/2012 on international private law, witnesses, experts and parties may – if so requested by an authority in another country – be heard under oath. For witnesses and parties to proceedings, the oath reads: ‘I swear on my honour that I will answer every question asked by the court fully and truthfully and that I will withhold nothing.’ For an expert, the oath reads: ‘I swear on my honour that the opinion I will give will be according to the best of my knowledge and belief.’ If there is a subsequent oath, the wording of the oath will be modified accordingly.

13 What arrangements are there for ensuring that there is a contact person at the place of the videoconference with whom the requesting court can liaise and a person who is available on the day of the hearing to operate the videoconferencing facilities and deal with any technical problems?

Specific arrangements are agreed when the videoconference is being prepared and are based on the needs of the requesting and requested courts.

14 What, if any, additional information is required from the requesting court?

Specific arrangements are agreed when the videoconference is being prepared and are based on the needs of the requesting and requested courts.

Last update: 16/09/2016

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

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