The Government have decided to opt into the amendment to the EU service regulation but not at this stage to the amendment to the EU taking of evidence regulation.
The Government recognise that both regulations underpin the effective operation of the EU civil judicial co-operation framework by providing rules that enable documents to be transmitted between and served in other member states and that enable evidence to be obtained from witnesses in one member state for use in proceedings in another member state.
The decision on whether to opt into these proposals was made in the context of the UK’s objective to seek a mutually beneficial arrangement for the continuation of an effective civil judicial co-operation framework as the UK leaves the EU.
The Government are conscious also that there are a number of issues in both proposals that will need to be resolved during the negotiations, not least the question of the expense of the proposed system to digitise the means of transmission and communication under both regulations. It recognises that the time is right to consider updating both regulations to facilitate the greater use of IT but the exact way of doing that needs to be examined further.
While the Government are content to opt into the proposal regarding the service regulation, they decided that their concerns with the revised taking of evidence regulation proposal need to be resolved before the UK can consider participating in that proposal. In particular, the Government are concerned about the proposal’s removal of the requirement of voluntary participation of witnesses giving direct evidence to a court of a different member state, and the resulting implication that coercive measures could be used in such circumstances.
Notwithstanding the opt-in decision relating to taking of evidence, the UK Government consider it is in the interests of the UK to participate in negotiations on the amendment of both regulations.
In the event of the negotiations leading to a successful resolution of the Government’s concerns, and should the taking of evidence proposal be adopted during the proposed implementation period, the UK may decide to seek a post-adoption opt-in at that point.