Overview of Existing Legal Framework in the EU Member States

Deliverable D3.1 ‘Overview of Existing Legal Framework in the EU Member States’ reports on the research conducted by Work Package 3 on the Status Quo of legislation and practices existing in the European Union Member States, concerning collection, presentation and exchange of electronic evidence. The objectives of this report is to give an initial overview of legislative provisions existing at an EU-wide level; and at Member States level on collection, preservation and exchange of electronic evidence. The report forms part of the basis of the next Deliverable D3.2 (to be developed until the autumn of 2015) aimed at identifying the requirements for uniform regulation of electronic evidence (including transnational exchange) within the European Union. These two deliverables, when taken together, will feed into the preparation of a roadmap for realizing a Common European Framework for the application of new technologies in the collection, use and exchange of evidence.

In Part 1 of the deliverable, the EVIDENCE WP3 team provided an overview of the relevant international and European legal instruments and guidelines that are applicable or potentially applicable to the collection, preservation and exchange of electronic evidence.

In Part II of the report the RUG experts aimed at offering preliminary picture of the laws and practices related to the electronic evidence in some of the European Member States. For the purpose of this document, in order to gather specific information on criminal procedural rules across European countries a bespoke questionnaire has been designed - in elaboration with the team of LUH being responsible for WP8; that allowed the conducting of a survey in selected Member States, namely: Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Hungary and The Netherlands. A more comprehensive and wider report, including an assessment of the status quo governing the collection, preservation and exchange of electronic evidence in different EU Member States, is to be provided in D3.2 mentioned above.

The information provided in Deliverable D3.1 was gathered both from the replies to the questionnaire as well as form a literature review on collection, preservation and exchange of electronic evidence and experts workshops organized by the EVIDENCE Project Consortium at the INTERPOL Headquarters in Lyon, France and at EUROJUST offices in The Hague, The Netherlands.

The structure of the second part reflects, as much as possible, the structure of the questionnaire used for the (pilot) survey, focusing on the impact of digital technologies on national investigative measures from the perspective of collection, preservation and exchange of electronic evidence. Some suggestions from experts for future policy and law-making have also been collected. The overview offered in the report should help to identify the main challenges and gaps of the Status Quo, with the final aim of providing the relevant legal basis and requirements in order to build up a roadmap for a Common European Legal Framework in electronic evidence (the overall EVIDENCE Project’s aim).