Katowice, 29 April 2005

CCJE-GT (2005) COM No.2

Working party of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE-GT)

Comments no. 2 (2005) of the working party of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE-GT) on the framework programme « a new objective for judicial systems: the processing of each case within an optimum and foreseeable timeframe »

established by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)

The Working Party of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE-GT), during its meeting held in Katowice (Poland) on 27-29 April 2005, took note of the Framework Programme “a new objective for Judicial systems: the processing of each case within an optimum and foreseeable timeframe” adopted by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ).

The CCJE-GT noticed that the Framework Programme restates, among its “Lines of Action”, some of the measures suggested in instruments of the Council of Europe, and shared the goal pursued by the programme to reduce the length of judicial proceedings.

The CCJE-GT believed that specific attention should be given to lines of actions concerning resources of judicial institutions, improvement of statistical tools and development of information and communication strategies, indication of priorities in case management, definition of rules establishing an optimal duration for each type of case and monitoring their implementation, as well as improvement of the quality of procedures.

The CCJE-GT submitted the following observations:

- The CCJE noted in its Opinion No. 1 (2001) that efficiency of the judiciary should be one of the important elements that authorities in charge for recruitment and careers should consider when selecting candidates for judicial positions.

On the other hand, it is important that evaluation of personal ability of individual judges be kept distinguished from assessment of the judicial system in its globality; and that quality of justice should not become a mere synonym for productivity (Opinion No. 6 (2004), paragraphs 34 and 42), as such productivity may jeopardise a correct accomplishment of the judges’ role (Opinion No. 1 (2001), paragraph 69).

In view of the above the CCJE-GT recalled the necessity to involve the independent body1 in charge of protecting judicial independence and managing the judiciary in the activities of selection and collection of qualitative data concerning justice. The independent body2 should also play a central role in working out procedures of data collection, as well as in evaluating results and disseminating them towards interested persons and authorities. This will reconcile the necessity of an evaluation and the necessity of protecting judicial independence (Opinion No. 6 (2004), paragraph 43).

- The CCJE-GT also noted in its Opinion No. 3 (2002) that a diligent and speedy accomplishment of their tasks is a deontological obligation of judges (paragraph 26). It is therefore necessary that judicial training programmes include specific exposure to case and court management, it being clear that training is also a deontological obligation for judges (Opinion No. 4 (2003), paragraph 28). However, diligence implies that resources are adequate to the objectives to be achieved. The CCJE-GT already recalled that funding of courts is closely connected with judicial independence, as it shapes the conditions under which courts exercise their mission (Opinion No. 2 (2001), paragraph 2), and that both access to justice and the right to a fair trial do not occur whenever a case is not heard in a reasonable time because of the lack of resources in the courts (Opinion No. 2 (2001), paragraph 3). It is therefore necessary that States allocate adequate resources to the courts, through a procedure that should be respectful of judicial independence and should involve judicial authorities in the evaluation of financial needs and in the submission of budget requests to the national legislatures (Opinion No. 2 (2004), paragraphs 5, 10, 11 and 14).

On this subject the CCJE-GT recalled the CCJE’s suggestion to confer upon an authority representing all the courts, and separate from the executive branch, the task of budget requests to the national legislatures.

- The CCJE-GT noticed that pilot programmes, to be carried out in some courts in order to develop statistical tools and monitoring proceedings, and to experiment with solutions are to involve costs.

The use of such a tool, however, should not generate the idea that a court that takes longer on average than another to deal with a case is less efficient, as administration of justice differs greatly from purely administrative tasks, where measurements through indicators may be effective (see CCJE’s Opinion No. 6 (2004), paragraph 41).

- The CCJE-GT recommended that measures aimed at reducing the workload of courts as well as at assisting the handling of cases coming to court, as indicated in the CCJE’s Opinion No. 6 (2004), section C, should be considered as the most effective tools to achieve efficiency.

1 As specified in the European Charter on the Statute for Judges and the CCJE’s Opinion No. 1 (2001).
2 See note 1 above.