This new Act allows, under defined conditions, relief from the effects of expiry of a time limit, even in cases where it would not otherwise be possible under the law. Lex Covid also sets out that  until 30 June 2020, with exceptions, the courts will not undertake enforcements by selling movable  assets and buildings in which the debtor has permanent residence. 

As we have informed, the President of the Czech Republic signed an Act known as Lex Covid on 20 April 2020. The Act is intended to address practical problems arising in connection with the  Covid-19 pandemic in judicial proceedings and bankruptcies, and it also deals with the functioning  of legal entities. The purpose of this newsletter is to present the content of Lex Covid concerning  the procedural law issues and implementation of enforcements. 

Relief from the effects of expiry of procedural time limits
As a result of the adopted extraordinary measures, the courts have scaled down their activity and in particular they have significantly reduced access to the court buildings for the public whereby,  among other things, they have limited access to case files. That, however, made it impossible or  excessively difficult for some parties to proceedings to carry out the necessary procedural steps  within the set time limits, e.g. submission of a response. In some cases, such situation could be  addressed by filing a request for extension of the time limit to perform an act but the courts did not manage to deal with the requests within a reasonable time.

Lex Covid therefore enables relief from the effects of expiry of a time limit under set conditions, even in cases where this would be otherwise impossible by law. A condition for the relief is  submission of a request/application by the party concerned within a set time limit, to which the  omitted act must be attached. 

The time limit for filing the application will start to run upon terminating or cancelling the extraordinary measure against the epidemic, which made it impossible or substantially difficult to  carry out the act. The time limit will not end before a certain number of days after the emergency  ends. The time limits for which it is possible to file an application or request for relief vary in  different areas of the procedural law. 

In civil justice, the application for relief must be filed within 15 days of the termination or cancellation of extraordinary measures. If the party has missed the time limit for submission of a response, as  a result of which a judgement for recognition was issued, the court will decide based on the  application of the party concerned on relief from the effects of expiry of the time limit for  response and on an annulment of the judgement for recognition. 

In administrative justice, the application for relief from the effects of expiry of a time limit must be filed within 14 days of terminating or cancelling the extraordinary measure that hindered or rendered it excessively difficult to carry out the omitted act.

In enforcement proceedings, the application for relief can be filed within 7 days of the termination or cancellation of the extraordinary measure. However, it is not possible to condone  non-compliance with the time limit for filing an appeal against a decision in which the ownership  of an asset was transferred to the purchaser at auction (an example can be a forced sale of  immovable assets, or sanctioning of a business establishment by its sale). 

It is newly possible under this extraordinary situation to launch proceedings for a stay of enforcement also after the enforcement has already been performed, provided that the performance  took place during the extraordinary measures and the party could not file the application before  the enforcement was performed due to the extraordinary measures. The party can launch proceedings for a stay of enforcement, if it was  ordered based on an unenforceable decision, the enforcement decision is annulled or rendered  ineffective, or if the enforcement was inadmissible because there is another reason why the decision cannot be enforced. 

The same applies for enforcement proceedings. If, moreover, the party against whom enforcement is sought permits the time limit for fulfilling the enforced obligation to elapse, it can apply for  relief from the effects of the expiry of that period. However, such party must pay the enforced  claim and an advance payment for the reduced execution costs within 15 days of the termination or  cancellation of the extraordinary measure, which will eventually mean lower execution costs for the  party. 

In insolvency proceedings, the person who permitted the time limit set for completing acts in this type of proceedings to elapse due to extraordinary measures can file an application for relief, with the  omitted act attached, within 7 days of the termination or cancellation of the extraordinary  measure. That does not apply if the case in question has already been decided or if the judgment  against which the party failed to lodge an objection within the set period has become final and the  party would like to file the objection presently. 

In proceedings before the Constitutional Court, the application cannot be rejected solely on the grounds of being filed after the expiry of the set period, if the appellant filed it out of time  due to restrictions arising from extraordinary measures against the epidemic. But the application  must be filed no later than 15 days following the termination or cancellation of the extraordinary  measure. That period will not end earlier than 15 days after the termination or cancellation the  state of emergency. 

If a person in criminal proceedings has allowed a period set for performing an act to expire, the person can apply to have his position restored to the status quo ante. That way, it is possible to  restore also the period for lodging an appeal. It is necessary to apply for restoration of the  status quo ante within 3 days of the termination or cancellation of the extraordinary measure in  question, however, that period will not end earlier than 3 days after the termination or  cancellation of the emergency. Such application must be accompanied by the act in question if it  still has not been performed. 

Lex Covid also deals with relief from the effects of expiry of a time limit in proceedings for satisfaction of property claims pursuant to the Act on the use of funds from material criminal  sanctions imposed in criminal proceedings, and also with relief in procedures relating  to  applications for financial assistance pursuant to the Act on victims – in both cases, the entitled  person can file an application for relief within 15 days of the termination or cancellation of  extraordinary measures against the epidemic. The application must be accompanied by the submission which was to be made within the missed period. 

Court decisions granting the relief, except for decisions of the Constitutional Court, do not have to be justified. 

Enforcement and execution proceedings

Lex Covid has also laid down that until 30 June 2020, the courts will not implement enforcement and  execution by forced sales of movable assets and buildings in which the debtors are registered as  permanently resident. That does not apply if the person against whom the enforcement is brought  makes a written notification to the court that the court should continue the enforcement or  execution in the above manner, or if the subject of the proceedings is recovery of maintenance  claims, personal injury claims or claims of compensation for damage caused by intentional criminal  offences. 

Should you have any questions concerning procedural law, not only related to the state of emergency, please contact Mr Ladislav Peterka at l adislav.peterka (at) randalegal.com. 

Řanda Havel Legal

Prague office
Truhlàřskà 13-15
110 00
Prague
Czech Republic
+420 222 537 500-501
+420 222 537 510
Martin.Randa@randalegal.com