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Faster court procedures to come into force this week

Faster court procedures to come into force this week

by Yannick LAMBERT 2 min. 13.09.2021
Commercial and civil cases are clogging the country's justice system
Justice Minister Sam Tanson oversaw the reforms
Justice Minister Sam Tanson oversaw the reforms
Photo credit: Pierre Matgé

Faster court procedures are set to come into force force on Thursday in the first major reform of civil procedures in 23 years, as Luxembourg aims to cut red tape to deal with a backlog in its congested court system. 

As of Thursday, a Justice of the Peace, the lowest-ranking civil and commercial court, may now rule on disputes about a value of up to €15,000 in oral procedures without the need of a lawyer,  instead of €10,000.

There will also be a simplified procedure to appeal judgments rendered by such courts, according to the bill, which was adopted in July.

The changes are meant to make "justice more accessible to the citizen, faster, and avoids tedious and costly procedures", the government said on Monday.  

Former general prosecutor Robert Biever as far back as 2016 bemoaned the slow pace of Luxembourg's courts in a report he submitted to parliament just before his retirement. The country is unable cope with the plethora of civil and criminal cases, mostly due to traffic accidents and business liquidations.

The slow pace of Luxembourg's legal system came into focus this summer, when prosecutors handed out the first indictments related to the Bernard Madoff fraud after a criminal investigation that ran for more than a decade. 

Fraud committed as part of Madoff's Ponzi scheme is estimated to amount to €1.5 billion in Luxembourg alone. A criminal investigation into Madoff's operations in the country began as early as March 2011, but resulted in charges only in May. Madoff died in a US prison in April, aged 82.

One of reforms will mean simpler procedures for standard cases involving disputes about amounts of up to €100,000. There will be deadlines by which legal teams must file their submissions and pre-trial judges will get greater powers to speed up the progress of cases.  

In more complex cases, lawyers will need to draw up summary submissions before the close of a hearing, including all of their arguments, something that will make "the judge's assessment work more efficient and thus saves considerable time for the litigant", the government said.

Luxembourg is also working on a wider reform of the judiciary which aims at making it more robust and more independent of political interference.

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