Strasbourg, 3 May 2013
BUREAU OF THE CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL
OF EUROPEAN JUDGES
Report of the 13th meeting
Strasbourg, 24 April 2013
Document prepared by the Secretariat
Directorate General I – Human Rights and Rule of Law
1. The Bureau of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) held its 13th meeting in Strasbourg on 24 April 2013. The meeting was chaired by Mr Gerhard REISSNER (Austria), President of the CCJE.
2. The following members of the Bureau were also present:
· Mr Bart VAN LIEROP (the Netherlands), Vice-President of the CCJE;
· Mr Richard AIKENS (United Kingdom);
· Ms Nina BETTETO (Slovenia).
3. Mr Stephane LEYENBERGER, Acting Head of the Division for the Independence and Efficiency of Justice, briefed the Bureau on the new organisational set-up and distribution of responsibilities within the Secretariat. He will be directly in charge of the CCJE work, together with Mr Artashes MELIKYAN, Administrator.
4. Ms Hanne JUNCHER, Head of Justice and Legal Co-operation Department of DGI, conveyed to the Bureau the recent developments at the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. In particular, as regards the preparation of the biannual programme and budget of the Council of Europe for 2014-2015, the justice sector should remain among the priorities of the Organisation.
5. The agenda is set out in Appendix I.
II. PREPARATION OF OPINION No. 16
6. The Bureau examined the draft structure of the Opinion No. 16 on the relationship between judges and lawyers and concrete means to improve the efficiency and quality of judicial proceedings (Document CCJE-GT(2013)1), prepared by Ms Natalie FRICERO, scientific expert, on the basis of the replies to the relevant questionnaire submitted by 33 member States. The Bureau also examined the analysis of these replies prepared by the expert (Document CCJE-GT(2013)2). The Bureau expressed its high appreciation for the work of the expert and the usefulness of these documents for the preparation of the draft Opinion.
7. The Bureau briefly discussed the modalities of the draft structure of the Opinion to be prepared in the course of the 24th meeting of the Working Group (24-26 April 2013, Strasbourg). Taking into account the sensitivity of this Opinion, its structure should be as detailed as possible in order to provide useful guidance to the drafters. The Opinion should be drafted so that it can be applied by a broad audience of legal professionals and expert community.
III. OTHER ACTIVITIES OF THE CCJE
a) Co-operation with member states
Updating Situation Report on the judiciary and judges in different member States (Updated version n°1 (2013))
8. The members of the Bureau discussed the process and modalities of updating the Situation Report on the judiciary and judges in different member states. The first version of this report was adopted in 2011 and submitted to the Committee of Ministers. In 2012, members of the CCJE submitted detailed updates on relevant aspects of the situation of the judiciary and judges in their countries. On the basis of this information, an updated draft of the Situation Report was prepared by the Secretariat with reference to the sources of the information.
9. The members of the Bureau mentioned that all updates had been fully incorporated into the draft. The discussion went on the Terms of Reference (ToR) and particularly the fact that CCJE is not a monitoring body. Therefore, preparation of this Situation Report should be seen in the context of CCJE providing targeted cooperation to enable member States to comply with the Council of Europe standards concerning judges, as provided by the CCJE ToR. In particular, the Situation Report would highlight the recent positive developments as examples of best practices in the member States. The names of the countries would only appear in an internal version, for working purposes, but not in the public version submitted to the CoE – the countries concerned by the whole report could be listed at the beginning of the report, but not for each specific item addressed.
10. After some re-drafting according to the proposals by the members of the Bureau and their final approval through e-mail exchanges, the report will be sent to all CCJE members for final comments and possible information on new developments. The final draft will be discussed and adopted by the CCJE plenary meeting on 13-15 November 2013. As previously decided, the update of this report will be prepared every two years.
11. The members of the Bureau also discussed the information provided to the CCJE by the Association of European Administrative Judges concerning cases of alleged non-observance in different member States of the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe CM/Rec (2010)12 on judges: independence, efficiency and responsibilities.
12. The Bureau decided to create an internal database within the framework of the CCJE website on a country-by-country basis, where information about situation on the judiciary and judges would be collected, with reference to its sources and origins. This database would not be made public.
b) Co-operation with CEPEJ, CCPE and other bodies in and outside the Council of Europe
13. The Secretariat briefed the members of the Bureau on the activities of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) and the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE).
14. The CEPEJ, through its three Working Groups, has undertaken a regular process for evaluating and strengthening the efficiency and quality of judicial systems in the member States and beyond (Morocco and Tunisia are currently concerned by specific programmes):
15. – the last report evaluating the functioning of judicial systems was published in September 2012; the 2012 – 2014 evaluation cycle is under way and should result in a new report in 2014;
16. – the SATURN Centre for judicial time management is working in close cooperation with the network of pilot courts for observing on a regular basis the situation of timeframes of judicial proceedings in the member States and developing concrete tools aimed at the courts (court coaching programmes are being implemented with volunteer courts);
17. – the work on the quality of the public service of justice is currently being focused on the preparation of guidelines for the reform of judicial maps, the organisation of court premises and the role of judicial experts in judicial proceedings; CEPEJ is studying the possibility of setting some indicators of the quality of the service provided by the courts to the users. A court coaching programme is proposed to those courts willing to organise court satisfaction surveys.
18. In addition, CEPEJ is now very much involved in cooperation projects (Turkey, countries of the Eastern Partnership, countries of the neighbourhood policy).
19. The Secretariat reminded that there was no overlap between the missions of the CEPEJ and the CCJE: their status, mandate and objectives are different, but complement each other. The CEPEJ is an intergovernmental body which serves (through members representing the member States) as an arm of the Committee of Ministers to develop the policies for improving the efficiency and quality of the public service of justice, whereas the CCJE is entrusted to advise (through individual judges appointed ad personam) the Committee of Ministers on issues related to the status of judges and the exercise of their function.
20. As regards the cooperation with the CCPE, the joint Opinion of the CCJE and CCPE on the relationship between judges and prosecutors in a democratic society was recalled in the context of drafting the current Opinion on the relationship between judges and lawyers. In addition, the CCPE is currently working on drafting the Opinion on the relationship between prosecutors and media which also touches to some extent upon issues related to the work of judges.
21. The members of the Bureau were also briefed on the current project implemented in Ukraine by the Division for Legal Cooperation of the Justice and Legal Cooperation Department, DGI. The objective of the project, which is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, is to strengthen the independence, efficiency and professionalism of the Ukrainian judiciary and to facilitate institutional and legislative reforms of the justice system in Ukraine in line with European standards. In particular, the project aims at improving judicial self-governance, increasing the professionalism of judges through training, and contributing to developing an institutional set-up of the High Council of Justice, the procedures for judicial appointments as well as the professional responsibility and disciplinary measures for judges.
22. The members of the Bureau underlined their willingness to contribute to the activities of the project with a view to using the CCJE standards in the process of reforms in Ukraine. They would be ready to engage in consultancy missions and prepare advisory opinions in the course of the project implementation.
c) Specific assistance activities
23. The CCJE had received a request from the President of the Supreme Court of Georgia for an Opinion on the draft of the Law “On Establishing the Temporary State Commission on Studying the Miscarriages of Justice”. The English translation of this draft legislation, sent by the Supreme Court of Georgia, was examined by the members of the Bureau and a draft Opinion was prepared by the President of the CCJE. An exchange of views took place, and the experience in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom was discussed. The Bureau finalised and approved the Opinion to be sent to the Supreme Court of Georgia.
24. The members of the Bureau also discussed the issues raised in the letter by the Association of Judges of Serbia on the alleged problems arising from the process of judicial reforms, reappointment of judges and questions concerning the Council for the Judiciary. Due to recent developments in Serbia, which seem to be an improvement, the President of the CCJE will send a message to the requesting Association of Judges of Serbia if there is still a need of further activity of the CCJE in these matters.
d) Participation in other meetings in and outside the Council of Europe
25. The President of the CCJE briefed the Bureau on his participation in international conference organised by the Supreme Court of Ukraine in Kyiv on 15 February 2013. Its topic was “The Supreme Court of Ukraine and the democratic society: background and perspectives”. Mr REISSNER delivered a presentation on the CCJE activities and standards and had a number of bilateral meetings.
26. The Bureau discussed the invitation addressed to the CCJE by the European Network of the Councils for the Judiciary for its participation in the 2013 General Assembly of this Network on 5-7 June in Sofia, Bulgaria. The general topic of the Assembly will be independence and accountability of the justice system. The Bureau decided that the CCJE should be represented at this event and its recent developments should be highlighted.
IV. OTHER BUSINESS
27. The members of the Bureau examined the list of possible topics for the Opinions of the CCJE in 2014 and 2015. The matter would be further discussed in the course of the 24th meeting of the CCJE Working Group on 24-26 April 2013 (see the report on this meeting with the attached list of the proposed topics).
28. The next Bureau meeting was scheduled in Rome, following an invitation by the Italian High Council of the Judiciary, on Wednesday 12 June 2013 in the morning, in advance of the 25th meeting of the CCJE Working Group (scheduled for 12 (pm) -14 June 2013 in Rome). A conference on the relations between judges and lawyers would take place on 13 June (am). The Secretariat indicated that the changes in the dates of this meeting were proposed at the request of the Italian hosts.
AGENDA / ORDRE DU JOUR
1. Opening of the meeting / Ouverture de la réunion
2. Adoption of the agenda / Adoption de l’ordre du jour
3. Communication by the President, members of the Bureau and the Secretariat / Communication du Président, des membres du Bureau et du Secrétariat
4. Preparation of the 24th CCJE-GT meeting and the draft Opinion No. 16 on the relationship between judges and lawyers and the concrete means to improve the efficiency and quality of judicial proceedings / Préparation de la 24ème réunion du CCJE-GT et du projet d’Avis n° 16 sur les relations entre juges et avocats et les moyens concrets d’améliorer l’efficacité et la qualité des procedures judiciaires
Working documents / Documents de travail
Draft Structure of Opinion No. 16 / Projet de structure de l’Avis n° 16
Summary of replies to the questionnaire / Synthèse des réponses au questionnaire
5. Situation report on the judiciary and judges in the different member States (Updated version n°1 (2013)) / Rapport sur la situation du pouvoir judiciaire et des juges dans les différents Etats membres (Mise à jour n°1 (2013))
6. Other work of the CCJE / Autres travaux du CCJE
Participation of the CCJE in other meetings in and outside the Council of Europe
Participation du CCJE à d’autres reunions au sein ou là l’extérieure du Conseil de l’Europe
7. Any other business / Divers
Background documents / Documents de référence
Report of the 13th plenary meeting of the CCJE
Rapport de la 13ème réunion plénière du CCJE
Report of the 12th meeting of the Bureau of the CCJE
Rapport de la 12ème réunion du Bureau du CCJE
Report of the 23rd meeting of the Working Group of the CCJE
Rapport de la 23ème réunion du Groupe du travail du CCJE