The European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters is a framework set up by the European Union in order to facilitate the application of the rules governing judicial cooperation in civil matters between Member States, i.e. those rules governing, in civil cases having cross-border elements, the determination of the courts having jurisdiction and the applicable law, the movement of judgements and public documents and the mutual assistance among the various States’ authorities, for instance in the field of service and evidence. In practice, the Network offers the Member States authorities and the legal professions representative bodies the opportunity to confront each other in an informal way on the concrete application of the rules on judicial cooperation, discussing any difficulties, whether of a general issue or related to particular cases.
What rules govern it?
Established in 2001, the Network is disciplined by the 2001/470/EC Council Decision of 28 May 2001 (amended by the Decision No 568/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009). The consolidated text of the founding Decision can be read here.
What are its specific tasks?
The Network has, among others, the task of: fostering judicial cooperation between Member States; facilitating effective access to justice by means of information activities on the functioning of EU legal acts and international instruments relating to judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters; ensuring the proper handling of proceedings having cross-border implications and satisfying the requests for judicial cooperation between Member States, in particular where no European or international instrument is applicable; ensuring effective and practical application of EU legal acts or international conventions in force; creating and promoting an information system conceived for the public on judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters within the European Union, on EU legal acts and relevant international instruments as well as on the Member States’ domestic law, with particular attention to access to justice.
Who is part of the Network?
The Network consists of: contact points designated by the Member States; the central authorities provided for in EU legal acts, international instruments the Member States participate to or rules under domestic law on judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters; liaison magistrates with responsibility in the field of judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters; any other appropriate judicial or administrative authority with responsibilities for judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters whose membership in the Network is considered to be useful by the Member State to which it belongs to; professional associations representing at national level, within the Member States, legal practitioners who directly contribute to the application of EU legal acts and international instruments relating to judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters.
The contact points
A certain number of the Network contact points operate within each Member State. These are judges and officials who interact with the other members of the Network and with the judicial authorities of the respective Member State. These have to, among others: ensure that local judicial authorities receive general information on EU legal acts and international instruments in the matter of judicial cooperation; provide the necessary information to ensure a good judicial cooperation among Member States both within the Network and towards the authorities of the respective Member State, in order to allow them to submit implementable requests for judicial cooperation and to establish direct contacts; provide the Member State authorities with information that facilitates the application of the law of another Member State, applicable by virtue of a EU legal act or an international instrument; seek solutions to the concrete difficulties may arise in the application of the rules on judicial cooperation; facilitate the coordination in the processing of requests for judicial cooperation in the Member State concerned; contribute to informing the public on issues of judicial cooperation; ensure coordination between the Network members at national level.
The Network in Italy
In Italy, the Network is based at the Italian Ministry of Justice, Department for Justice Affairs – Directorate General for International Affairs and Judicial Cooperation – Office I (International Judicial Cooperation). The following operate in Italy for the Network: five contact points (four magistrates and an administrative officer); the central authority designated pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 on matrimonial matters and parental responsibility (Brussels II bis) and Council Regulation (EC) No 4/2009 on maintenance obligations (Office IV – Department of Juvenile and Community Justice of the Italian Ministry of Justice); the central authority designated pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 on cross-border notifications (Single Bailiffs Office – Section for notifying foreign legal documents at the Rome Court of Appeal); a representative of the Italian National Bar Council; a representative of the Italian National Council of Notaries. More details on the Network’s activities in Italy are available here.
The main source of information on the Network is the Network website.