Information and communication technologies and the judicial system of Uzbekistan

May 27, 2016

The foreign experience of application of information and communication technologies (ICT) by courts, in particular, the experience of such technological leaders as Singapore, Korea, Malaysia, Germany and Estonia shows that introduction of new technologies allows to improve performance of courts by optimizing their working processes. More specifically, by using electronic document management systems the courts were able to reduce the number of actions taken by judges and court personnel. The introduction of e-justice has helped to resolve the numerous issues of the judicial system, in particular it has allowed to reduce the terms of consideration of applications of citizens, to ensure interaction and data exchange between agencies, and created conditions for automatic collection of analytical data on activities of the courts.

In turn, for the citizens such systems became a very important tool of openness, as the systems made it possible to track procedural actions of courts in respect of specific applications and to timely access to judicial documents. In addition, the information and interactive services available on the web sites of the courts provide the public with the necessary information about activities of the courts, with a database of depersonalized decisions of the courts, templates of document and other services. The systems of video conferencing and audio-video recording of court sessions, first, facilitate effective communication of courts with parties, and second, ensure openness of judicial processes and prevent procedural violations.

In Uzbekistan, given the growth of applications filed to courts by individuals and legal entities and, as a consequence, the increase in workload of judges, there is of high importance the issue of implementing new methods of improving the efficiency of performance of courts. Implementation of ICT as a means of optimizing judicial proceedings can contribute to creating open and accessible courts.

The system E-SUD

At the moment in Uzbekistan there has been adopted a legislative framework, which enables submission of applications to courts in electronic form. Accordingly, by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan there is being developed the National Electronic Case Management System E-SUD (www.esud.uz).

The system E-SUD is intended for automation of consideration of civil cases and statements to issue a judicial order, and enables citizens to file applications to courts in electronic form, thereby saving time and money of litigants. After registration in the system, users obtain access to all case materials, as well as to determinations and decisions passed by courts, and are able to track the progress of consideration of cases. On the other hand, judges are able to optimize their work thanks to the fast-track process of issuance of documents and the templates available in the system.

In addition, the system requests for a minim necessary data at the moment of submitting documents to courts, which allows to start collecting information as early as at the time of submitting documents. Statements and enclosed to them documents, which are submitted by users, are transferred to the database of the system, where they are accessed by judges and court staff.

 

The National Electronic Case Management System E-SUD is being developed exclusively by the local staff, and the system is unique throughout the region. The system E-SUD has been examined by the Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications and recommended for implementation in the civil courts. The information system E-SUD offers the following interactive services:

  • Application to any court that is connected to the information system E-SUD, via the web portal.
  • Continually track changes on a case through the personal user account.
  • The system allows judges and court staff through their personal user accounts to review materials of civil cases and prepare procedural acts using information from the database.
  • Access to all procedural acts passed by judges regarding specific application, which are automatically stored in the database of the information system.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

The system E-SUD was first piloted with support of the UNDP in 2013 in part of passing court order in Zangiata inter-district civil court. During piloting was revealed that the use of the system E-SUD in preparation of court acts in writ proceedings resulted in significant time savings.

Today, the system E-SUD operates in part of passing court order in eight courts on civil cases of Tashkent city and Tashkent region. Also for the launch of the system there are prepared the civil courts of the Tashkent region. In these courts there are created local area networks and the judges are provided with the latest computers and necessary office equipment. Judges and court personnel are getting training at the local level based on special education programs and are improving their skills for working with the information system. Also, the system is being learned by external users, which are the employees of utility service providers and tax inspectorates.

These actions are being carried out within the framework of the joint Project of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Programme “Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan”.

 

 

When fully operational, it is expected that the system E-SUD will make it possible for citizens to file applications to civil courts at any time, either from home, or through special terminals installed in courts. Moreover, citizens will be able to attach the required documents online, to monitor the progress of case and to receive judicial decisions. The system not only will allow to reduce the time needed to consider cases, but also to improve the quality of administration of justice.

Of course, by facilitating consideration of cases by using the system E-SUD in part of passing court orders, we are solving only some of the tasks of the judicial system. In order to achieve complete computerization of the courts and to provide transparency of court proceedings it is necessary to expand this system and to embrace the courts of higher instances.

 

Within the framework of the Project “Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan” in 2015 has been developed the new official website of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan (www.oliysud.uz), which offers an array of information and interactive services to citizens, including an opportunity to file applications in electronic form through the system E-SUD.

 

 

Further steps

To date, there are being carried out works for extension of the existing system towards consideration of statements and complaints in action proceedings, special proceedings and proceedings for consideration of complaints, and besides there was created a feature allowing to automatically generate statistical reports. This module of the system is currently undergoing tests in order to identify any possible problems. Also, to provide vertical communication between courts of all instances, there is being developed a module for consideration of cases in appellate/cassation and supervisory instances. Meanwhile, щne of the most critical tasks is integration of the system E-SUD with the systems of other public authorities.

In particular, integration of the system E-SUD with the Center for Registration of Electronic Digital Signatures (EDS) under the State Tax Committee. By using EDS it will become possible to confirm authenticity of the documents submitted to a court in electronic form, thus eliminating the need for signature of statements by individuals. In addition, the use of EDS for legal documents passed by judges while considering civil cases will allow to substitute the official seal of the court.

For obtaining information about the persons involved in the case and for their subsequent notification, it is proposed to integrate the information system E-SUD with the Database of Individuals and Legal Entities at the State Center of Personalization, through the use of a single identifier.

To date, there is another topical issue of paying state duty at the time of applying to civil courts. As to this issue, it is necessary to integrate the system E-SUD with the billing system, thus making it possible to pay the state duty through UZKART and other means of electronic payments.

In addition to the above areas of work, which are aimed at ensuring effective and sustainable operation of the system E-SUD, there also remains the issue of enforcement of court orders and decisions. To date, the legislation provides for issuance of a writ of execution to the claimant (plaintiff, appellant) (except in cases of immediate enforcement) for further application of the latter to the Department of Bailiffs, and, only at the request of the claimant (plaintiff) a writ of execution may be sent directly by the court.

Therefore, in implementing electronic proceedings it is necessary to establish the procedure of immediate sending of writ of execution in electronic form. To do this, one of the primary tasks is integration of the system E-SUD with the system for controlling over enforcement of judgments ‘E-Ijro’, which allows for immediate sending of a writ of execution to bailiffs and to control over its enforcement.

 Along with optimization of consideration of cases, also should be addressed the issue of transparency of proceedings. For this purpose, with the support of the Project “Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan” in the Supreme Economic Court and in economic courts of Tashkent region and Tashkent city there is being piloted the system of audio-video recording of court proceedings.

While being capable to perform multi-channel audio-video recording of a court session, the system primarily aims at improving the quality and simplification of keeping records of trials. In the future, audio-visual recording of court sessions may even eliminate the need for preparing minutes in paper form.

For the purpose of optimizing economic proceedings there is also being developed the mechanism of publishing depersonalized decisions of economic courts on the Internet.

It is important to keep in mind that the major expected outcome from implementing ICT in the courts is openness and accessibility of justice. The measures, which are being taken in our Republic for implementing ICT in the activity of the judiciary, will help to improve the quality of functioning of the courts, to increase the authority of judges and court staff, and will serve as a basis for creating an effective and independent judiciary. 

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