The expansion of the scope of application of the e-Hearing System, which enables participation in hearings by means of audio and video transmission in civil proceedings, has been on the agenda for quite some time. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, important steps have been taken to expand the e-Hearing System and provide online access to more courts. In this regard, the Ministry of Justice initiated the pilot applications of the e-Hearing System on 15 September 2020. As of 9 November 2021, the e-Hearing System has been implemented in all provinces, and online access is now available to 1,400 civil courts.
Procedure and principles of the e-Hearing System
Issues related to e-hearings and procedural actions are regulated within the scope of Regulation No. 31527 on the Execution of Hearings by Transmission of Audio and Video in Civil Procedures (“Regulation“).
Upon the request of one of the parties, the court may decide that the requesting party or its attorney can attend the hearing via the e-Hearing System and take procedural actions from the place specified in the Regulation. Likewise, upon the request of one of the parties, the court may also order that a witness or expert will be heard through the e-Hearing System.
In accordance with the Regulation, in order for an e-hearing to be held upon the request of a party, the party must submit its request to the court via the UYAP lawyer or citizen portal at least two business days before the hearing date. The judge reviewing the e-Hearing request must decide on the request at least one business day before the hearing, and this decision is final. In addition, the court may decide ex officio for a witness or expert to be heard through the e-Hearing System, or for parties in cases and matters over which they have no discretion to be heard through the e-Hearing System.
In summary, the execution of the e-Hearing takes place within the following framework:
- In lawsuits followed by more than one attorney, only attorneys who submit a request and whose request is accepted can attend the e-hearing.
- Hearing minutes are also kept during the e-hearing by the clerk.
- The signatures of parties, attorneys or persons who submit a statement via the e-Hearing System are obtained electronically and integrated into UYAP.
- During the e-hearing, information, documents and evidence are transmitted instantly via UYAP.
- If there is any interruption during the e-hearing, or if the audio and video transmission cannot be provided at the same time, the e-hearing will be reopened. If the disruption continues, the e-hearing will be terminated by stating the reason, and this matter will be recorded in the minutes.
- In the event that the e-hearing cannot be held due to technical reasons and through no fault of the party or its attorney, Article 150 of the Civil Procedure Code titled “The Parties’ Failure to Attend the Hearing, Its Results and the Lawsuit being deemed not filed” shall not apply.
With the expansion of the scope of application of the e-Hearing System, all parties, especially lawyers, now have the opportunity to participate remotely in any stage of a trial, thus saving time and effort, and reducing travel and physical contact, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, we believe that the e-Hearings will bring a breath of fresh air to legal proceedings.