Practical Obstacles in Cross-Border Litigation and Communication between (EU) Courts
18 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2013
Date Written: February 5, 2013
In cross-border civil litigation the use of different official court languages causes severe problems when - at least one of the parties - is not familiar with the official language of the court, since the parties' constitutional right to a fair trial depends very much on the communication with the court. As a consequence, interpreters must often be used during the trials and hearings and legislatures have to decide to what extent legal documents should be translated. The article takes the position that the European legislature sometimes underestimates the language problem and does not always provide sufficient safeguards for the parties' right to be heard (in a language they can understand). In particular, the defendant's procedural rights often require a translation of documents in cross-border service of process and must take precedence over procedural economy. European regulations also tend to emphasize the cooperation between courts in different Member States without taking into consideration that there is often no common language and that many judges will not have the language skills to communicate with their colleagues. The use of standard forms available in the 23 official languages is no perfect solution for all situations.
Keywords: fair trial, service of documents, translation of documents, cross-border enforcement of judgments given in default of appearance, judicial cooperation, use of standard forms
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