Strasbourg, 5 September 2013
BUREAU OF THE CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL
OF EUROPEAN JUDGES
Report of the 14th meeting
Rome, Italy, 12 June 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 14th meeting in Rome, Italy, on 12 June 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;
· Ms Nina BETTETO (Slovenia).
Mr Richard AIKENS was apologised.
3. Mr REISSNER emphasised during the meeting and was supported by the other members of the Bureau that the CCJE activities were expanding and that this was a very welcome trend.
4. The agenda is set out in Appendix I.
II. PREPARATION OF THE OPINION No. 16
5. The Bureau briefly discussed the text prepared by Ms Natalie FRICERO, scientific expert, for elaborating the draft Opinion No. 16 on relations between judges and lawyers and concrete means to improve the efficiency and quality of judicial proceedings (Document CCJE-GT(2013)1rev4). This text was prepared by the expert on the basis of extensive discussions of the structure of the Opinion during the 24th meeting the CCJE Working Group in April 2013. The Bureau expressed its high appreciation for the work of the expert and the usefulness of the text prepared by her.
6. Members of the Bureau expressed some concerns about the future content of the draft Opinion and the need to be comprehensive covering broad issues as well as specific points related to criminal procedure, equality of arms and adequate procedural rules. Importance of cooperation between judges and lawyers, including at international level, should be mentioned in the spirit of the rule of law. Role of media was also important.
7. In view of the 25th meeting of the Working Group (12-14 June 2013, Rome, Italy), which would prepare the draft Opinion, the Bureau stressed that the main message should be conveyed: even though judges and lawyers have different roles but both professions work for the rule of law. It was important to make sure that the Opinion would address relevant issues from this point of view and that it would have the capacity of being used in practical sense both by judges and lawyers, as well as by legal professionals in general.
8. The Bureau members also stressed that the forthcoming conference on relations between judges and lawyers (13 June 2013) in Rome organised by the CCJE in cooperation with the Italian Supreme Council of Magistracy and the National Bar Council, would serve as a forum for exchange of experience between the two professions and new ideas for developing their cooperation.
III. NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICY OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE AND THE CCJE RELATIONS WITH OBSERVERS
9. The Secretariat briefed the Bureau on the projects within the framework of the Council of Europe neighbourhood policy. In Morocco and Tunisia, the projects had been adopted; in Jordan, it would be adopted. The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) was requested to work with Morocco and Tunisia to draw conclusions and recommendations, support the development of judicial system and work with pilot courts. In September 2013, the same kind of exercise would start in Jordan.
10. The Secretariat underlined that if there were a request to work on legislation establishing the High Council of Justice, for instance, the CCJE expertise would be needed. He also mentioned the CCJE’s role regarding other possible legislative expertises. The members of the Bureau agreed on the relevance of the neighbourhood policy and welcomed any opportunity to provide advice based on the CCJE’s standards.
11. Mr REISSNER referred to his contacts with the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and the latter’s desire to become an observer to the CCJE. The formal request for an observer status would be sent to the Secretariat, and the CCBE would be willing to take part in the CCJE plenary meeting on 13-15 November 2013. The members of the Bureau fully welcomed this development. The Secretariat explained that, once the formal request for an observer status was received, all members of the CCJE would be consulted by the Secretariat and, unless there are objections, the CCBE would become an observer. This would take place before the plenary meeting in November.
12. The members of the Bureau also discussed the cooperation with the CCBE in the process of drafting the Opinion No. 16. Mr REISSNER, at the request of the CCBE, drafted a concept paper on the Opinion. He informed that at the end of June 2013, the CCBE would have a Board meeting where the concept paper and the corresponding input by the CCBE into the drafting process of the Opinion would be discussed.
13. The members of the Bureau also emphasised the importance of cooperation with the other organisations who have an observer status to the CCJE: the European Association of Judges (EAJ), the Association "Magistrats européens pour la démocratie et les libertés" (MEDEL), the Association of European Administrative Judges (AEAJ), the European Association of Judges for Mediation (GEMME), the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) and the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ).
14. In relation to MEDEL, Mr REISSNER reported on his participation in the Alert Day for the Independence of Justice in Europe organised by MEDEL in Brussels on 23 May 2013. MEDEL published a booklet concerning problems of the judiciary in Europe and requested the CCJE to use it for information during the preparation of the CCJE’s Situation Report on the judiciary and judges in member States.
IV. OTHER ACTIVITIES OF THE CCJE
a) Updating Situation Report on the judiciary and judges in member States (Updated version n°1 (2013))
15. The members of the Bureau discussed the process of preparation of the updated version of the Situation Report on the judiciary and judges in member States. The first version of this report was adopted in 2011 and submitted to the Committee of Ministers. In 2012/2013, members of the CCJE submitted detailed updates on relevant aspects of the situation of the judiciary and judges in their countries.
16. The Secretariat incorporated all these comments and information into the updated draft. However, the modalities of presenting the information, referring to the concrete countries and the alleged cases of infringements of the status of judges and functioning of the judiciary required detailed discussion for which the present Bureau meeting was not considered sufficient.
17. Therefore, the Bureau members, after consultation with the Secretariat, decided to organise a special Bureau meeting on this particular issue in September 2013.
18. In the meanwhile, the Secretariat would follow up on setting up 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.
19. The Bureau also discussed the information received from multilateral sources such as 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, as well as information from MEDEL (see above). This information would also be stored in the internal database.
b) Specific assistance activities
20. The CCJE had received a very positive response and appreciation from the Supreme Court of Georgia for the Opinion on the draft of the Law “On Establishing the Temporary State Commission on Studying the Miscarriages of Justice”. The Opinion was prepared by Mr REISSNER and examined by the members of the Bureau. The Opinion was also shared with the Venice Commission.
21. The CCJE had received, through its member in respect of Spain, Mr José Francisco COBO SÁENZ, a statement by the Presidents of the Spanish Courts of Appeal (Audiencias Provinciales) prepared during their meeting in Santander on 27-29 May 2013 in view of the proposal of legal reform on the structure, organisation and functions of the High Council of the Judiciary going through the Spanish Parliament. The Presidents of the Courts of Appeal expressed their deep concern about some aspects of the proposal that might, in their opinion, jeopardise the judicial independence. The members of the Bureau decided to examine this statement and request further information from Mr COBO SÁENZ.
c) Participation in other meetings in and outside the Council of Europe
22. Mr REISSNER informed the Bureau of his forthcoming participation (18 June 2013) in the launching ceremony of the 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 (SIDA), 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.
23. 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.
24. Mr Bart VAN LIEROP informed the Bureau of the conferences which he had attended and in which he had highlighted the activities of the CCJE:
- on 4 February and 24 May 2013 in the Asser Institute in The Hague, in the framework of the Matra Patrol and Matra South Programme;
- on 2-6 June 2013 in the German Judicial Academy in Wustrau, entitled "On the Independence of the Judiciary - a European Comparison".
25. Ms BETTETO informed the Bureau on her participation and contribution to the training for Italian magistrates entitled "The European Statute for judges and prosecutors", in which she presented the standards developed by the CCJE. This training was organised by the newly established Italian School for the Judiciary competent for both initial and in-service training of judges and prosecutors.
26. As regards the invitation addressed to the CCJE by the European Network of the Councils for the Judiciary for participation in the 2013 General Assembly of this Network on 5-7 June in Sofia, Bulgaria, unfortunately, due to unexpected changes in plans, CCJE was not able to take part, however it was decided to follow up on this meeting and its adopted documents.
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 25th CCJE-GT meeting and the draft Opinion No. 16 on relations between judges and lawyers and the concrete means to improve the efficiency and quality of judicial proceedings / Préparation de la 25ème 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
5. Neighbourhood policy of the CoE and the CCJE relations with its observers / La politique de voisinage du CdE et les relations du CCJE avec ses observateurs
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