Conference on ”e-Justice – Challenges and Opportunities in the Digital Era”, May 20th-21st, 2019

In the context of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union,  the Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with the European Commission organised the Conference ”e-Justice – Challenges and Opportunities in the Digital Era”, between May 20th-21st, 2019, in Bucharest.

The conference addressed IT specialists, practitioners and decision-makers within the judicial systems and proposed to provide a forum to discuss the importance of using new technologies in the field of justice (eg artificial intelligence, Blockchain, process automation, etc.), while aiming at encouraging participants to reflect both on the opportunities and the challenges posed by the rapid pace of technological progress as well as on the philosophical and ethical aspects generated by the implementation of such instruments in the field of justice.

At the opening of the session, Mr. Ion Popa, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice emphasized that ”the continuous development and improvement of the informatic tools which are at the disposal of the judges and the justice are a sine-qua-non condition of the evolution of a judicial system. Furthermore, in our situation of the Member States, we consider that we must pay particular attention to facilitating European cross-border cooperation with the technology”.

The continuation of the commitments of the last decade, redeemed - concretely - by the projects foreseen in the Strategy and the Action Plan, proves, on one hand, that the e-Justice of Europe works both for the benefit of the citizens and for the benefit of the actors/professionals involved in the judicial procedures, improving access to justice and enhancing mutual trust between the Member States of the European Union, on the other.

The focus of the conference was to encourage participants to reflect on the opportunities and challenges posed by the rapid pace of technological progress as well as on the philosophical and ethical aspects of the implementation of such instruments in the field of justice.

Romania encourages the use of modern technologies - such as automatic machine learning, artificial intelligence - to support the work of judicial systems and is equally concerned with providing the necessary legal framework for their use.

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EU adopts new rules on sales contracts for goods and digital content

The EU is introducing new rules to make it easier and safer for consumers to buy and companies to sell both goods and digital content cross-border.

The Council today adopted a package comprising a directive on contracts for the supply of digital content and services (Digital content directive), and a directive on contracts the sales of goods (Sales of goods directive). This formal adoption marks the end of the legislative procedure.

The objective is to provide a high level of protection and legal certainty for European consumers, in particular when buying across borders as well as to make it easier for businesses, especially SMEs, to sell EU-wide.

  • The European Union is boosting consumer rights for Europeans and creating new business opportunities for EU companies. Companies will be able to cut red tape when they want to expand and start selling across the Union. This will help in particular SMEs to extend their operations in other EU countries.

          Niculae Bădălău, Minister of Economy of Romania

  • Consumers will benefit from a higher level of protection thanks to the EU. They will be entitled to remedies when they buy anything from clothes to complex goods, such as smart watches, or when they purchase cloud services, antivirus software or e-books.

          Tudorel Toader, Minister of justice of Romania

The digital content directive introduces a high level of protection for consumers paying for a service but also for those providing data in exchange for such service. The new rules foresee in particular that, if it is not possible to fix defects within a reasonable amount of time, the consumer is entitled to a price reduction or full reimbursement. Moreover, the guarantee period cannot be shorter than two years.

The sale of goods directive will apply to all goods, including those products with a digital element (e.g. smart fridges).  The new rules introduce a two years minimum guarantee period (from the time the consumer receives the good) and  a one year period for the reversed burden of proof in favour of the consumer. Countries can go beyond those times to maintain their current level of consumer protection.

Next steps

The texts will now be formally signed and publish in the Official journal. Member states will have two years to transpose the new rules into their national law.

Background

The "digital content directive" concerns the supply of digital content and covers: data produced and supplied in digital form (e.g. music, online video, etc.), services allowing for the creation, processing or storage of data in digital form (e.g. cloud storage), services allowing for the sharing of data (e.g. Facebook, YouTube, etc.) and any durable medium used exclusively as a carrier of digital content (e.g. DVDs). 'Over the top' interpersonal communication services (OTTs), bundle contracts and the processing of personal data are included within the scope of the DCD directive.

The "sales of goods directive" concerns all sales of goods, whether than happens physically (in shops), online or in any distance sale. Goods with a digital component (e.g. smart fridge or intelligent watch) are covered by this directive.

Both directives are based on the principle of maximum harmonisation, which means member states cannot deviate from the requirements. However, on some aspects, some room is foreseen for EU countries to go beyond the requirements in order in particular to maintain the level of consumer protection already applied at national level.

Source: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/04/15/eu-adopts-new-rules-on-sales-contracts-for-goods-and-digital-content

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EU puts in place tighter rules to fight non cash payment fraud

The EU is stepping up the fight against fraud involving non-cash means of payment (credit cards, online shopping, etc.) by upgrading and modernising the existing rules.

The Council formally adopted today the directive on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment. Member states have 2 years to implement the new rules.

The directive updates the existing rules to ensure that a clear, robust and technology-neutral legal framework is in place. It also gets ride of operational obstacles that hamper investigation and prosecution, and foresees actions to enhance public awareness of fraudulent techniques such as phishing or skimming.

Main provisions of the text

The directive aims to be technology-neutral and encompass not only traditional non-cash payments such as bank cards or cheques but also new ways of making payment which have appeared over recent years, such as electronic wallets, mobile payments and virtual currencies.

Some of the main provisions are:

  • Harmonised definitions of some online crime offences, such as hacking a victim's computer or phishing;
  • Harmonised rules on penalties for natural persons: five, four or three years of prison, depending on the offence, as the minimum penalty in cases where a judge imposes the national “maximum” custodial sentence for non-cash payment fraud;
  • Assistance and support to ensure victims are sufficiently informed of their rights and citizens are advised on how to protect themselves from such frauds;
  • Clarification of the scope of jurisdiction to ensure cross border fraud is tackled more effectively.

The directive provides for minimum rules, so member states are free to go further and implement more stringent rules, including a broader definition of offences or higher penalties.

Next steps

This formal votes marks the end of the legislative process. The directive will now be formally signed and then published in the official journal. Member states will have two years (from the publication in the OJ) to implement the new provisions.

Background

In 2013, it is estimated that €1.44 billion was stolen by criminals through non cash payment fraud. Around 36 billion of phishing messages are sent every year to European citizens.

The directive was proposed by the Commission in September 2017 as part of the EU's response to the challenge of cybersecurity. It updates the Council framework decision 2001/413/JHA dating back to 2001.

Source: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/04/09/eu-puts-in-place-tighter-rules-to-fight-non-cash-payment-fraud/

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The meeting of Mr. Tudorel TOADER, Minister of Justice, with Mr. Almat Madaliyev, Vice-minister, Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan

On April 4th, 2019, at the seat of the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Tudorel TOADER, Minister of Justice, had a working meeting with a delegation from the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan, leaded by Mr. Almat Madaliyev, Vice-minister of Justice. His Excellency, Mr. Daulet Batrashev, Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Romania, Mr. Ruslan ASHENOV, investigator within the Department of Investigation, the Department of Investigation within of the State Committe on Revenues of the Republic of Kazakhstan, chief investigator, Mr. Diat IBRASHEV, Adviser to the General Prosecution Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Mr. Amankali SAGATOV, Consultant of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The objectives of this meeting were the current state of mutual cooperation in justice matters and the development of bilateral relations.

In the opening, the Romanian official appreciated the development of the bilateral juridical framework, emphasizing, in this context, the excellent collaboration between experts for the conclusion of some very important cooperation agreements in criminal matters.

The meeting proved the utility and the importance of a complete juridical framework for the mutual cooperation in criminal matters, in this context: the Treaty between Romania and the Republic of Kazakhstan regarding mutual assistance in criminal matters, signed in Bucharest, on November 14th, 2014.

Both sides emphasized the importance of the development of mutual cooperation and of the identification of best solutions for the issues of common interest.

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The meeting of Mr. Tudorel TOADER, Minister of Justice, with Mr. Azman Bin Ali, deputy director of the Prison Simpang Renggam, Malaysia

Between 1st and 4th of April, 2019, in Sinaia, the National Administration of Penitentiaries, in partnership with the Norwegian Correctional Service Directorate, organizes the International Conference of the directors of penitentiaries services on the topic of “Contemporary challenges in European prison systems – Preventing the phenomenon of radicalization and reducing overcrowding in prisons”.

On this occasion, on April 2nd, 2019, Mr. Tudorel TOADER, Minister of Justice, had a meeting with Mr. Azman Bin Ali, deputy director of the Prison Simpang Renggam, Malaysia.

Mainly, the discussions concentrated on the topics of mutual interest for the correctional services in both countries.

The meeting represented a continuation of the steps taken by the Romanian Minister of Justice in the context of the visit from December 2017, context which marked the signing of the Memorandum between the Government of Romania and the Government of Malaysia regarding juridical cooperation. The Memorandum provide different form of cooperation, such as: legislation, good practices and experience exchanges on topics of mutual interest, mutual visits of representatives from both countries judiciary systems, the promotion of programs and projects of mutual cooperation in justice matters. The signing of the Memorandum had an important role towards the progress of negotiations regarding the transfer of inmates in Romania.

During the aforementioned visit in Malaysia in December 2017, The Romanian Minister of Justice visited the Prisons Bentong and Simpang Rengam, in which three Romanian citizens were imprisoned and facing a death penalty.

After the visit of the Romanian Minister of Justice and the signing of the Memorandum between the Government of Romania and the Government of Malaysia, significant changes for the good were made for the Romanian citizens imprisoned in the two prisons, especially the regime of the serving of their sentences. In March 2019, one of the Romanian citizens, Laurențiu Marian Peity had his sentences commuted from the death penalty to life imprisonment.

The meeting represented a great opportunity for sharing the best practices in judicial matters and for the consolidation of collaboration relations, by providing continuity for the steps already taken by the Romanian Minister of Justice.

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