Paraguay moves forward with the implementation of the electronic judicial process

Paraguay moves forward with the implementation of the electronic judicial process

By Juan Manuel Gustale Cardoni
MC/MPA Candidate, Harvard Kennedy School

Last Monday, October 10th, will be remembered as the day the electronic judicial process was formally introduced within the Paraguayan legal system, which unquestionably constituted an unprecedented breakthrough for the judiciary in this country.

Alberto Martínez Simón

Alberto Martínez Simón
Judge of the Civil and Commercial Upper Chamber of Asunción, Paraguay.
Source: ABC Color, Paraguay

The HKS Latin American Policy Journal had the chance to speak to one of the project’s pioneers and key advocates, Dr. Alberto Martínez Simón, Judge of the Civil and Commercial Upper Chamber (Second Instance) of Asunción, appointed by the Supreme Court as the general coordinator of this initiative, given his involvement in the blueprint since 2008.

Dr. Martínez Simón celebrated the fact that the pilot plan has been finally launched, asserting that it will bring along numerous advantages in the short term, by providing a faster, reliable and more transparent administration of justice, while putting in place a greener, paperless procedure.

With roughly 600 lawsuits, one Civil and Commercial Court of First Instance and one Civil and Commercial Upper Chamber of Second Instance will be in charge of implementing the e-process. The very initial phase will take place during the forthcoming months, when these courts will begin to employ innovative digital tools to run the process.

Basically, new judicial claims initiated before these courts from October 10th onwards will be digitalized and will continue their regular process, in accordance with the National Constitution of 1992 and the Code for Civil and Commercial Procedures.

Additionally, all 19 Civil and Commercial Courts of First Instance of the Capital will be required to implement e-based judicial proceedings from October 24th, 2016. Judges, along with Public Prosecutors and Public Defenders, will have a wide range of instruments at their disposal, so as to progressively adhere to the e-process.

Attorneys will be granted access to a secure electronic platform, which will represent the main channel to promptly communicate parties about notifications, jurisdictional issues, judgements, appeals and other decisions the courts might adopt.

Likewise, judicial enquiries would be conducted electronically and documentations will be recorded and kept within the platform, avoiding the need to waste piles and piles of paper, while ensuring a more rapid and trustworthy procedure for both plaintiffs and defendants.

The Supreme Court of Justice is eager to replicate this system in other jurisdictions, in order to deal with an enormous number of undecided lawsuits and to diminish the rate of delayed judgements, an issue that has affected Paraguayan courts over the last decades, with few exceptions.

It has to be emphasized that a number of safety measures have been adopted in order to safeguard the data comprised in every single judicial file, which will certainly contribute to increase the degree of credibility, much needed in these days in order to revitalize the image of a deficient judicial system.

Gradually, this ambitious project seeks to expand nationwide, so as to eradicate an archaic and slow motion procedure, often cited as one of the major weaknesses within the Paraguayan legal system. Most importantly, it will enable to substantially diminish the usage of paper, granting a more efficient and sustainable employment of resources.

About the Author

Juan Manuel Gustale Cardoni is a Paraguayan lawyer who works for the Central Bank of his country (currently on leave, doing the MC/MPA at the Harvard Kennedy School). He graduated from the National University of Asuncion and holds a Master of Laws in Banking and Financial Regulation from the London School of Economics. He has published a number of articles and has participated as a speaker in several international conferences related to financial regulation and supervision. While he spends most of his time at the Library, he also enjoys running, playing soccer and watching Suits on Netflix.

The author would like to thank Ms. Laura Ocampos Velázquez for his collaboration on this article