What is e-CODEX?
e-CODEX (e-Justice Communication via Online Data Exchange) is a business collaboration solution with software components underneath it. Without replacing the existing back-end systems in the Members States, e-CODEX interlinks national and European IT systems in the justice domain. As such, it offers a digital infrastructure for secure cross-border communication and information exchange in a growing number of civil, criminal, and commercial use cases (specific flows or procedures as foreseen in a specific regulation or legislative instrument).
e-CODEX consists of two main software elements – a Gateway and a Connector. The Gateway (also called “access point”) ensures a secured cross-border connection with a Gateway in another location; it creates a standardised envelope and initiates its sending to another Gateway. The Connector packs the content of the message, guarantees its authenticity, its correct delivery, and it processes all tracing activities. The Connector (standalone) Client, an optional module of the e-CODEX package, provides Member States that do not have their own national back-end application with a back-end solution that acts as a digital receiver.
Both the Connector and the Gateway are ‘content-agnostic’, meaning that both components are ‘blind’ for the (legal) content of the messages; thus, they can be similarly applied to all use cases in every legal domain. e-CODEX merely digitalises the analogue communication and exchange process that is already there. The way in which this is done, characterises the working method of e-CODEX – it is based on the active involvement of user communities for each specific use case while respecting the national process design and judicial peculiarities in the Member States. The (business) process models and the XML data structures are the unique semantic assets defined per use case.
e-CODEX was initiated in 2010 as a project by a consortium of 22 Member States. Today, various participants are using e-CODEX to support cross-border legal procedures in various civil, commercial, and criminal matters, including European Order for Payment, European Small Claims, European Account Preservation Order, transmission of Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matter (MLA) and/or European Investigation Order (EIO), Mutual Recognition of Financial Penalties, interconnection of Insolvency and Business Registers, cross-border recovery of maintenance obligations under the EU 2009 Maintenance Regulation and the 2007 HCCH Child Support Convention, etc. Other possible and/or desirable future applications of e-CODEX include European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters, European Arrest Warrant, family law matters, mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences, mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders, etc.
Based on Council Conclusions from 9 June 2016 the Commission has built a secure online solution for electronic requests and responses concerning MLA and EIOs: the e-Evidence Digital Exchange System (e-EDES) and its Reference Implementation Portal (e-EDES-RI). A first assessment by the Commission of the potential users of this system within each Member State shows that the total number of users of an e-CODEX based system is about to increase dramatically in the upcoming years.
On 3 December 2019, the JHA Ministerial Council reached a general approach on the two proposals for amending regulations regarding the service of documents and the taking of evidence. The legislative process is entering its final phase. In February 2020, the Croatian presidency suggested to follow the position of the European Parliament to include an explicit reference to e-CODEX in the recitals of the taking of evidence regulation.
Why is e-CODEX so important for TREIO?
The use of e-CODEX will become crucial in all cross-border proceedings following its EU expansion and expected regulatory strengthening. Thus, TREIO seeks not only to deliver all-round training for the EIO procedure as such but also to strengthen the practitioners’ awareness and knowledge of its underlying tools that are essentially the tools to be used in all key judicial cooperation procedures in future.
TREIO will explore real-time training possibilities for more realistic and immersive sessions, as users would be able to see proof of delivery, trust-OK tokens, and other relevant information in real-time. TREIO will emulate e-Evidence Digital Exchange System responses and fully customise them according to different training scenarios. These simulations will be integrated in the TREIO training, thus users with no experience or access to e-CODEX can also get familiar with the relevant cross-border processes.
This approach, once proven its usefulness, could be multiplied for other judicial procedures, and become best practice in judicial trainings.