Recently the European Commission published Regulation (EU) 2023/2844 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2023 on the digitalisation of judicial cooperation and access to justice in cross-border civil, commercial and criminal matters, and amending certain acts in the field of judicial cooperation (Digitalisation Regulation or e-justice Regulation).

With the Regulation, the EU establishes a uniform legal framework for (1) the use of electronic communication between competent authorities in judicial cooperation procedures in civil, commercial and criminal matters (2) the use of electronic communication between natural or legal persons and competent authorities in judicial procedures in civil and commercial matters (3) the use of videoconferencing or other distance communication technology as well as (4) certain provisions regarding electronic signatures and seals and legal effects of electronic documents (article 8) of the Regulation).

In accordance with article 3 of the Regulation, communication regarding a number of EU acts, between competent authorities of different Member States and between a national competent authority and a European Union body or agency, including the exchange of forms established by those acts, in future needs to be carried out through a secure, efficient and reliable decentralised IT system. Not necessarily, this is the software as developed by the European Commission. Recital 21 mentions that implementation software should be based on a modular setup, meaning that the software is packaged and delivered separately from the e-CODEX components needed to connect it to the decentralised IT system. Such a setup enables Member States to reuse or enhance their existing national judicial communication infrastructure for the purpose of cross-border use. For matters relating to maintenance obligations, this recital explicitly refers to the software developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (iSupport).

From the Regulation, the taking of evidence (already under the Evidence Regulation 2020/1783), and the service of documents (already under Regulation 2020/1784) are exempted.  Yet, it is important to mention that certain provisions of the Service Regulation are adjusted.  In order to enhance the electronic service of documents which is to be effected

directly on a person who has a known address for service in another Member State, the Regulation introduces certain amendments to Regulation (EU) 2020/1784.

A new article 19A will be introduced to the Service Regulation. This provision enables the service of judicial documents that can be effected directly on a person who has a known address for service in another Member State through the European electronic access point established under Article 4(1) of Regulation (EU) 2023/2844, provided that the addressee has given prior express consent to the use of that electronic means for serving documents in the course of the legal proceedings concerned. This electronic access point is to be established on the European e-Justice portal. Under the newly introduced article 19A to the Service Regulation, the addressee shall confirm the receipt of the documents with an acknowledgment of receipt, including the date of the receipt. The date of service of documents shall be the date specified in the acknowledgment of receipt. The same rule shall apply in the case of service of refused documents. This provision will go into force from 17 January 2028. For that through article 10 of the Regulation, an extra paragraph is added to article 37 of the Service Regulation.

Article 10 also mentions the planning regarding the adoption of the implementing acts on the decentralised IT system. The Regulation foresees in a planning for the adoption of those implementing acts. As far as relevant for enforcement agents:

  • 17 January 2026 for the European Payment Order procedure (1896/2006) and the European Small Claims procedure (861/2007);
  • 17 January 2027 for the European Account Preservation Order Procedure (655/2014); Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters (606/2013) and the Regulation on insolvency proceedings (2015/848)
  • 17 January 2028 for the Regulation (implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of matrimonial property regimes (2016/1103) and the Regulation implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of the property consequences of registered partnerships (2016/1104).
  • 17 January 2029 for the European Enforcement Order for uncontested claims (805/2004), Regulation on Maintenance Obligations (4/2009), Brussels I Bis (1215/2012)

Regulation 2023/2844 will enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. It shall apply from 1 May 2025. The provisions regarding the electronic access point apply from the first day of the month following the period of two years from the date of entry into force of the corresponding implementing acts.