As a lawyer with a strong affinity for IT law, I now try to run my practice with as little paper as possible. This includes communication with my clients via secure communication channels, the use of a web file, the use of the special electronic lawyer’s box and much more. Unfortunately, you can’t really prevent it yet. Too many colleagues do not yet use electronic communication, data protection prevents some aspects, for example in archiving, and the special attorney mailbox is unfortunately still very rudimentary and error-prone.
However, there is one thing I have only been able to use once so far: digital communication in an oral hearing via Skype, for example. Here only the judge intervened, when in the context of an order mediator meeting a local date took place.
It may come as a surprise that the German Code of Civil Procedure has even formally opened up the possibility for such options. Section 128a of the Code of Civil Procedure opens up the possibility for the court to hold a hearing via Skype/video conferencing and the standard does not require the consent of the parties, nor would a corresponding order be contestable. The parties then have the choice of traveling to the court or conducting the hearing from their own office. The time and money saved can be enormous, especially when negotiating decisions with a low amount in dispute.
For example, you can use Skype pre-business, which allows you to make a conference call just by clicking on a link. I can also offer this to my clients for a meeting if, for example, they do not want to install Skype as a standalone program or simply do not have/use a Microsoft account. Of course, you also have to pay attention to whether it makes sense in the specific situation. The taking of evidence, discussions with witnesses, party presentations or hearings, the exchange of many documents and similar things are probably more likely to be carried out purely digitally, and in compliance with the principle of orality.
Motivated by this post, I will now also apply for § 128a ZPO more frequently, also in the hope of even reducing costs for my clients in the process. I am very curious to see how high the approval rate is already with courts and will give a regular update on this once. I would of course be interested in feedback from colleagues on how often such requests had already taken place!