Colombia: Permanent Use of ITCs in Legal Proceedings now Sanctioned by Law
Author: Alejandro Castellanos
Law 2213, certified on 13 June 2022, establishes the continued relevance of Decree 806 of 2020, which implemented the temporary use of ITCs during the Covid-19 pandemic, turning it into a now permanent disposition in legal proceedings in order to streamline judicial processes and provide greater flexibility to enable and expedite access to the justice system.
When the Covid-19 pandemic started Colombia had to declare a state of emergency due to the abnormal circumstances, so as to provide a quick response to national matters that had to be modified in order to match the current necessities. This included the judicial service attention, hearings and legal proceedings.
Law 2213 provides the main requirements for the permanent use of ITCs in judicial proceedings as follows:
Subject Matter: Adopt as permanent law, the Decree 806 of 2020, to impose the use of ITCs in the legal proceedings before the ordinary jurisdiction, the administrative authorities in exercise of jurisdictional functions and arbitral proceedings. In addition, provide greater flexibility regarding judicial service attention through technological tools, regarding the right to equality for the parties involved.
Use of ITCs: Wisely integrated the use of ITCs aptly handling legal proceedings and current files and issues, to enable and expedite access to justice.
Duties of parties to judicial proceedings: Execute and participate in hearings and legal proceedings by technological tools.
Judicial files: Develop digital judicial files in a hybrid mode.
Power of Attorney: Grant and recognise the Power of Attorney through data message; neither handwritten nor digital signatures are required.
Lawsuit: Indicate the digital channel to serve the parties, legal representatives and attorneys, as well as any other witnesses, legal experts and third parties summoned to the process. Also, if it is unknown, it has to be indicated. The lawsuit and annexes of the complaint will be filed in data message.
Hearings: By disposition, hearings will have to be performed using technological resources; exceptions can be declared by the judge due to special circumstances in the proceedings.
Service of process: The process will be by the use of data message. It will be considered to have taken place after two (2) business days of the receipt of notice of the date of dispatch.
Communications: Any communications regarding the legal proceedings will be through the best technical resource that is available to all parties involved.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel
- This new law brings positive aspects to legal proceedings, streamlining judicial cases that had been delayed due to the physical impossibility of attending hearings.
- Even though the Colombian Procedural Labour Code contemplated the use of ITCs, it was not implemented until the Covid-19 pandemic struck and it suddenly became a necessity for the sustained continuation of judicial proceedings.