12 November 2013
CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL OF EUROPEAN JUDGES
Activities of the CCJE
(November 2012 – October 2013)
Document prepared by the Bureau of the CCJE
I. Terms of Reference
According to its Terms of Reference, the CCJE shall:
(i) prepare and adopt, in 2012 and 2013 respectively, two opinions for the attention of the Committee of Ministers on issues regarding the status of judges and the exercise of their functions, in particular concerning:
a. the relationship between judges and lawyers and the concrete means to improve the efficiency and quality of judicial proceedings, namely as regards judicial time management, taking into account, inter alia, the relevant work of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ);
b. the specialisation of judges;
(ii) provide targeted cooperation at the request of member states, CCJE members, judicial bodies or relevant associations of judges, to enable states to comply with Council of Europe
standards concerning judges;
(iii) prepare texts or opinions concerning the specific situation of judges at the request of the
Committee of Ministers or other bodies of the Council of Europe such as the Secretary General or the Parliamentary Assembly;
(iv) encourage partnerships in the judicial field involving courts, judges and judges’ associations.
II. Meetings held
a) The 13th plenary meeting of the CCJE took place on 5-6 November 2012 in Paris;
b) The Working Party of the CCJE held its meetings on 24–26 April 2013 in Strasbourg, and on 12–14 June 2013 in Rome;
c) The Bureau of the CCJE held three meetings: on 24 April 2013, on 12 June 2013 and on 11 September 2013.
III. Documents issued
a) During its 13th plenary, on 6 November 2012, the CCJE adopted the Opinion No. 15 on the “Specialization of judges”;
b) In view of its adoption by the 14th plenary meeting of the CCJE, the Working Group drafted an Opinion on “The relations between judges and lawyers”;
c) As was decided in the 13th plenary meeting, the Bureau of the CCJE summarised the requests and information received by the CCJE during the last two years in a “Situation report on the judiciary and judges in the Council of Europe member States” which updates a similar report adopted by the 12th plenary of the CCJE in November 2011;
d) At the request of the President of the Supreme Court of Georgia, the CCJE commented on a draft law on “Establishing the Temporary State Commission on Studying the Miscarriages of Justice”.
IV. Participation of members of the CCJE following invitations to disseminate CCJE´s working results and to provide requested assistance
1) CCJE was invited to take part in the 17th Conference of Directors of Prison Administration, which took place from 22 to 24 November 2012. President Reissner and Mr Stelios Nathanael, the member of CCJE in respect of Cyprus, participated in the last day´s session, which dealt with prison overcrowding. This part was explicitly planed by the organizers to provide an exchange between the prison administration and the judges. The representatives of CCJE underlined that these very specific topic were not debated in the CCJE so far, but recalled some of the principles expressed in Opinion No 13. The organisers of the Conference and the participants mentioned that such an exchange with CCJE was very fruitful and they envisaged to have it again on a regular basis.
2) On 6-7 December 2013, CCJE participated in the 20th plenary meeting of CEPEJ in Strasbourg. The Vice-President Paul Maffei took part in a round table which was held on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of CEPEJ entitled “Efficiency and quality of justice are still to be improved; new challenges for the CEPEJ in the coming years”.
3) On 14 January 2013, the first meeting of the German Study Group on Councils for the Judiciary, chaired by Prof. Albrecht, with experts of another member state was organized. As envisaged during the meeting between representatives of this group and members of CCJE in Strasbourg in November 2012, there should be an exchange of experience between the German Group, which is composed of representatives of some ministries of the Länder, of delegates of the German judges associations, and of observers of the Federal Ministry of Justice on the one hand, and the representatives of the Council for the Judiciary, the CCJE´s member, the Ministry of Justice and judges representing another country. The first of these meetings was dedicated to the Netherlands. CCJE was represented by the Vice-President Bart van Lierop.
4) The Vice-President Bart van Lierop also gave a series of lectures on the Councils for the Judiciary, taking into account the Opinions of the CCJE, during several events including:
· at the Asser Institute in the Hague on 4 February 2013, for judges from central European countries, on the work of the CCJE;
· also at the Asser Institute on 24 May 2013 for judges from Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Jordan and Egypt, and on 14 October 2013 for legal experts of the Supreme Court of Albania;
· at the German Judicial Academy in Wustrau on 5 June 2013 on the organisation of an independent judiciary;
Mr van Lierop also attended a meeting in the Hague on 7 October 2013 on the work of the Venice Commission.
5) From 14 to 16 January 2013, the presidents of CCPE, CEPEJ and CCJE followed an invitation of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors of Turkey to Ankara and Istanbul to gain information on the recent developments in the Turkish judicial system. Meetings with the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, the Court of Cassation, the Council of State, the Justice Academy the Ministry of Justice and several courts were organized. The visit and the interesting discussions focused mostly on technical improvements following instruments of CEPEJ. It was astonishing to see how many financial means (buildings, IT etc.) and great effort Turkey provides for the justice system.
6) On 15 February 2014, the Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law had been invited to an international conference on the occasion of the anniversary of the Supreme Court of Ukraine in Kyiv on “The Supreme Court of Ukraine and the democratic society: background and perspectives”. CCJE was asked to represent the Council of Europe and President Reissner gave a short presentation in the working session entitled “The Supreme Court as an institution of democratic society: the current state and improvement perspectives”. He underlined the role of a Supreme Court to secure the unified application of the law and referred to the four level court structure in Ukraine, where many final decisions are issued by the special high courts.
7) Ms Nina Betetto, member of the Bureau of CCJE, was invited to Tunis, where a conference on “The independence of the judiciary in Tunisia on the eve of the adoption of the new Constitution” on 13 and 14 March 2013 was organized. She gave a presentation on “The Guarantees of Independence of Judges”.
8) On 18 March 2013, the second meeting of the Albrecht Commission (see above 3) took place in Berlin. This time, Italian experts were invited. CCJE was represented by the former CCJE President Raffaele Sabato. President Reissner took part as well.
9) On 23 May 2013, MEDEL organized an “Alert Day for Independence of Justice in Europe” in Brussels. President Reissner was invited and went to this conference, where problems in several member states were debated and a booklet on “Justice: un pouvoir de la démocratie en Europe” was presented. On 30 July 2013, the CCJE received a request to take the problems raised in this booklet into account in the course of drafting its Situation Report.
10) On 23 and 24 June 2013, the newly established Italian School for the Judiciary organized a conference in Florence on the topic of "The European Statute for judges and prosecutors" focusing on the Council of Europe instruments defining such statute, and on the activities of the CCJE and the CCPE. Judges and prosecutors from Italy, Spain and Bulgaria participated. Among speakers, there were Mr Raffaele Sabato, former President of the CCJE, and Ms Nina Betetto, member of the Bureau of the CCJE.
11) Following the initiative of the former CCJE President Raffaele Sabato, the National Bar Council of Italy, in cooperation with CCJE and the Italian High Council for the Judiciary, organized a conference in the premises of the Italian Bar Council on “A renewed partnership between the judiciary and the defense lawyer profession in the European framework”. Vice-President Bart van Lierop spoke about “The principles being developed by the Consultative Council of European Judges in consultation with European advocacy” and the member of the Bureau Nina Betetto participated in a round table on “What are the forms of possible collaboration between European advocacy and the Consultative Councils of Judges and Prosecutors at the Council of Europe?”
12) During the first meeting of the Bureau of the CCJE in April 2013, the CCJE was asked to contribute to a reform project in Ukraine on “Strengthening the independence, efficiency and professionalism of the judiciary in Ukraine”, which was going to be implemented by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Council of Europe. The Bureau confirmed the availability of CCJE and President Reissner took part in the launching event of this project on 18 June 2013. He presented the work of CCJE and offered future co-operation of CCJE.
13) President Reissner took part in the 21st plenary meeting of CEPEJ, which was held in Strasbourg on 20-21 June 2013, and gave a short presentation of the ongoing work of CCJE.
14) The High Council for the Judiciary of Bahrein asked the CCJE to give advice on the envisaged reform of this Council on the occasion of a symposium supported by the American Bar Association on 25-26 June 2013. President Reissner presented the CCJE Opinion No. 10 and other Council of Europe´s and international legal documents.
15) In view of possible future co-operation between CCJE and the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), President Reissner was invited to the 265th session of the Committee. He presented the work of CCJE, which was followed by an interesting debate on possible contributions of CCJE in raising the awareness of judges on the tasks and activities of ECSR and of possible future activities.
16) In the framework of the Joint Programme between the European Union and the Council of Europe entitled "Strengthening democratic reform in the southern neighbourhood", the CEPEJ organised a round table on “Efficient task management at the Court of Cassation and acceleration of the flow of procedures” in Geneva (Switzerland) on 4 July 2013. Mr Paul Maffei (Belgium), member of the CCJE, made a presentation on the topic “The management of appeals on points of law”. The round table was expected to result in the drawing up of an Action Plan for the Tunisian Court of Cassation in this field.
17) On 5 September 2013, the third session of the German Group chaired by Prof. Albrecht (see point 3 above) exchanged experience with experts from Poland. The Polish member of CCJE Katarzyna Gonera and the CCJE President Reissner participated.
18) The former CCJE President Alain Lacabarats and President Reissner were invited to the 3rd Conference of Presidents of Courts of Appeal in Pamplona from 16 to 18 October 2013. They both gave presentations on “Judicial Independence and Efficient Justice”.
19) The Turkish Council of Judges and Prosecutors, in view of an improvement of the initial formation and the in-service training of judges, organised a conference, which took place from 23 to 25 October 2013 in Antalya. President Reissner presented several opinions of the CCJE and foremost its Opinion No. 4.
20) The fourth and last round of the German Group chaired by Prof Albrecht (see point 3 above) on 11 November 2013, had invited experts from Switzerland. President Reissner took part and spoke with the representatives of the German Federal Ministry of Justice, which intended to host the meeting of the CCJE Working Group in June 2014.