Japan is far behind other major countries in digitalization in civil procedures. For instance, Singapore started electronic filing in 1998, while Korea began to do the same in 2011. In Japan, on the other hand, we still exchange court documents on paper and by fax. I’ve personally been frustrated in this situation for a long time. At last, the government will reform the laws to digitalize civil procedures. I will outline the arguments at the time of writing.
We now file court documents on paper or by fax. It is interesting that fax, outdated technology, has by chance high security in a digital society.
After the reform, lawyers will be required to file court documents online. For the time being, people who represent themselves (i.e., those who conduct a lawsuit without a lawyer) are likely to be able to choose whether they file online or not.
The court now stores all the court files on paper. There are piles of paper in courts. After the reform, the court will keep and manage them in digital format, which can be accessed by the parties online. I am afraid that court clerks, whose main job is to handle cases, can be redundant in the end. The reform will make a much more significant impact on the court than lawyers and litigants.
We now physically attend most hearings at court. In some cases, attending hearings by phone are also available. Further, in some cases, we’ve been allowed to attend hearings online since 2019. After the reform, we will be able to participate in most hearings online. Still, I suppose that hearings for witness examination (i.e., trial) will generally be physically held at court.
If you are interested in, which is highly unlikely, you can follow the ongoing arguments here.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure that the information on this article is accurate at the time of posting, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ. If you do require advice or wish to find out more about the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.