E-Justice for taxation: Current status and future prospects in Latin America

Introductory concepts

Latin America has inherited from continental Europe its traditional judicial systems, where tons of cases were accumulated on paper.

Several countries in our region have undertaken far-reaching judicial reforms in order to address the need to promote the transformation of judicial systems from paper to the digital environment.

Social Change as an Instrument of Change in Law

Modern society is globalized and immersed in a constant and rapid flow of changes, – as said by Sociologist Bauman, which are also digital and electronic. It is undeniable that ICT have influenced the way of practicing the law. Now they constitute cornerstones in facilitating access to justice and improve its speed, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness.

Spurred by a true cybernetic revolution, we walk an intricate path to a new paradigm in the administration of justice: the e-justice.

First approach to the concept of E-Justice

E-Justice far exceeds the digital filing, since it constitutes a means of facilitating access to justice for people. It tends to provide a justice system of higher quality, speed and transparency.

Under these guidelines, it is possible to define the e-justice as the use of the information and communications technologies to improve the citizen’s access to justice and the effectiveness of the judicial action, understood as any activity consisting of solving litigation or criminally penalize a behavior.[1]

ICT in the Administration of Justice in Latin America

Costa Rica has been a pioneer in applying a “paperless Justice“, logical derivation of the ”Zero Paper Program“, while the Tax and Administrative Federal Court of Justice of Mexico has implemented the “Trial Online“, adapted to promote, substantiate and resolve “on line” the administrative contentious lawsuit on the website of the Court.

In Colombia, the legislation (Code of Administrative Procedure and Administrative Litigation) requires the adoption of technological figures such as electronic records, digital signatures, the mailbox for judicial notices, etc.

In Portugal, Portaria No. 380/2017 -in force since January 4, 2018-regulates “…the Electronic management of lawsuits in administrative judicial circuits, in tax courts, in administrative courts, and at the Supreme Administrative Court” and Peru has established the “Electronic Judicial File” (EJE) framed in a process of modernizing the service of justice administration. The Tax Court is also moving towards the digitization of its procedures, to regulate the “Procedure for electronic notification of administrative acts of the Tax Court” (R. M. No. 442-2017-EF / 40).

IN Brazil, the National Videoconference System was developed by the National Council of Justice (CNJ) in order to provide greater ease, speed and efficiency in the exercise of the judicial function.

Spain has enacted Law No. 18/2011, on July 5, regulating the use of information and communications technology in the administration of justice. In the final provisions, this law alludes to its normative development and provides for the regulation of the use of videoconferencing systems in the Administration of Justice. The Economic-Administrative Courts have been taking undisputed leadership in activities related to eGovernment,

Artificial intelligence for justice.

CABA, a multidisciplinary team of Public Attorneys and a group of experts have developed the first artificial intelligence system, called “Prometea” in which cases are resolved quickly and with a high degree of accuracy.

The algorithms have been adopted from the US criminal justice, by using the “Compas” system, which is a kind of management of criminals profiles for alternative penalties from[2] the prison system, which has been validated by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, while the Australian police authorities have a system called STMP (“Suspect Targeting Management Plan”), which uses an algorithm that quantifies the likelihood to breach the law again.

We understand that “sentencing” –to pronounce or issue a judgement- materializes a human judgment, without prejudice of the assistance that artificial intelligence could provide to the court in its delicate function, so their systems would not violate the fundamental rights of individuals, but would help to reach the final decision.

Conclusions

The use of new technologies within the judicial scope not only implies a radical change in technology, but a real cultural change.

The implementation of ICT must take place with caution, in a reasonable and consistent manner, considering the peculiarities of the judicial structure of each country and respecting the fundamental rights of the taxpayers and citizens.

We are convinced that the emergence of ICT in the administration of justice will contribute decisively to maximize and facilitate access to justice, the basic pillar of any modern and democratic state of law.

Digital files quickly speed up and impulse the lawsuits. Digital signature, electronic notifications and online consultation of the records shorten time, and thwart tactics aimed at merely delaying the process.

Download a document I authored, where these topics are developed more in-depth.


[1]COM (2008) 329 Final. Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee. Towards a European strategy on e-Justice (Online Justice).

[2] Supreme Court of Wisconsin; Eric L. LOOMIS, petitioner, v. WISCONSIN, July 13, 2016, 137 S.Ct. 2290 (2017).

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