Last July the Hellenic Parliament adopted Law 4335/2015 amending the Code of Civil Procedure. The main thrust of these amendment is to reduce the means of defence available to debtors in the event of foreclosures, to speed up the administration of justice through a new procedure for civil actions and to amend the procedure for satisfying creditors through auctions, involving the partial abolition of the prerogatives of workers and the State in favour of mortgagees (normally banks).
The new provisions have been criticised by the Bar Associations of Greece as more complicated and time-consuming as well as impossible to implement due to insufficient infrastructure, a shortage of judges and secretaries, etc. … It is also strange that the new Code of Civil Procedure enters into force on 01.01.2016, i.e. in the middle of the legal year. This causes great inconvenience to the judicial officials (judges, lawyers, court clerks) who have jointly submitted a formal request for a nine-month postponement of the entry into force of the new Code so it begins with the new legal year (September 2016).
In view of the above, will the Commission say:
a) What is the position of its representative in the Troika and the Commissioner responsible as regards the entry into force of the new Code from the middle of the legal year?
b) Where do they stand on the demand to improve infrastructure and hire the extra staff needed?
Answer given by Ms Jourová on behalf of the Commission
A number of decisions of the European Court of Human Rights have shown that civil proceedings in Greece are not timely and have made clear the need for reform. At the end of 2014, 630 000 cases were pending at all levels of civil courts, from magistrate courts to the Supreme Court(1). The length of judicial proceedings should be improved despite progress in 2014 compared to previous years(2). Delays in judicial proceedings prevent citizens from having their individual rights upheld in a timely manner by courts and have become a deterrent to beneficial business activity and investment.
The reform of the civil procedure code was enacted on 23 July 2015 by Law 4335/2015 further to three years of intensive work by a Greek drafting legislative committee. The Greek authorities, and in particular the Ministry of Justice in charge of its implementation, did not consider it feasible for the new law to enter into force at the beginning of the judicial year (September) and enacted in the law an implementation date of 1 January 2016.
The Ministry of Justice has drawn up an action plan to ensure the smooth implementation of the new civil procedure code. The Structural Reform Support Service of the Commission is providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Justice to support the modernisation of the judicial system in Greece.
(1) Data published in the website of the Greek Ministry of Justice.
(2) 2016 EU Justice Scoreboard COM(2016) 199 final.