Strasbourg, 8 December 2006
CEPEJ (2006) 12
European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)
Working programme with the network of pilot courts in 2007
This programme was Approved by the CEPEJ at its 8th plenary meeting (Strasbourg, 6 – 8 December 2006). It will be implemented according to the budgetary resources available.
1. The Network of Pilot courts of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) held its 1st meeting in Bucharest, Romania, on 5 – 6 April 2006.
2. The working principles for the cooperation between the CEPEJ and the Network as decided at this occasion appear in appendix. Taking into account these principles, the CEPEJ medium term programme of activities and the draft CEPEJ programme of activities for 2007, the Network of Pilot courts could in particular be solicited as follows.
1. Working issues
1.1 Evaluation of judicial system
3. The Pilot courts could be invited to comment on the report "European judicial systems – Edition 2006", in view of pursuing the evaluation process.
Their comments could address in particular:
§ the relevance of the Scheme for evaluating judicial systems,
§ the coherence between the results presented and the concrete experience of the Network members.
4. The Network could also contribute to the in-depth analysis of the information given by the Report, in cooperation with the CEPEJ Working group on evaluation (CEPEJ-GT-EVAL). It could in particular:
§ propose analysis from the results of the Report on the topics selected by he CEPEJ to be specifically analyzed (access to justice; administration and management of European judicial systems; workload of courts and judges; non judicial tasks of courts and judges; use of Information Technologies in court systems; execution of court decisions),
§ propose other topics to be studied from the CEPEJ Report,
§ comment on the studies drafted from the Report within the framework of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL.
1.2 Timeframes of judicial proceedings
1.2.1 Evaluation of the impact of the "Time management Checklist"
5. Through a specific questionnaire to be prepared by the Secretariat, the Pilot courts could be invited to indicate whether the Checklist (which was given to them in Bucharest in April 2006) has been used within the courts and meets the needs and expectations of the practitioners. Where appropriate, the Pilot courts could highlight the useful elements of this Checklist as well as its lacuna and suggest amendments aimed to improve its usefulness.
1.2.2 Enriching and testing the Compendium of best practices on time management in judicial proceedings
6. The Network could be invited to complete the Compendium adopted by the CEPEJ as a tool which might be regularly updated and completed. The Compendium has been drafted namely by taking into account practices highlighted by the Pilot courts ("Pilot court cards ").
7. Each member of the Network could be invited to select one or two practices of the Compendium to test it within the court and comment on the feasibility of extending it to other courts. The Pilot Courts might be invited to participate, within the framework of the plenary meeting, in specific workshops consisting of several other courts with the same preferences (see paragraph 13). De tels regroupements pourraient également avoir lieu en dehors de la réunion plénière, en fonction des disponibilités budgétaires.
1.2.3 Cooperation with the Centre for studies and analysis of judicial timeframes
8. Should it be decided to set up within the CEPEJ a Centre of studies and analysis of judicial timeframes, aiming to have a concrete knowledge of judicial timeframes per type of cases, the Network could be solicited to advise the Centre, provide it with first hand qualitative and quantitative information and test modalities proposed by the Centre for calculating timeframes.
1.3 Quality of court activity
9. Should the CEPEJ decide to set up a working group on the quality of justice, such working group could be invited to work on the basis of the experiences and recommendations of Pilot courts, namely to:
§ collect necessary information on evaluation systems of the quality of judicial work existing in the member states;
§ improve tools, indicators and means for measuring the quality of judicial work;
§ draft concrete solutions for the policy makers and for the courts, allowing to remedy dysfunctions in the judicial activity and balance the obligations of the work of judges and its workload with the obligation to provide a justice of quality for the users.
1.4 Impact of the Council of Europe's instruments in the field of mediation
10. The Network could be invited to comment on the CEPEJ Report regarding the impact of the Council of Europe's instruments in the field of mediation, in the light of their own experience of mediation, within or out of the court system.
2. Working modalities
2.1 Cooperation with the CEPEJ working groups
11. In order to avoid overloading the Pilot courts, each of them could be invited to choose for 2007 a least one of the above mentioned working issues. Four commissions would then be set up within the Network. Each member of the commissions would work on the basis of information and working documents submitted by the Secretariat and the relevant CEPEJ working groups. Where appropriate, one or more members of the commission could be invited to participate in meetings of the relevant working group.
2.2 Plenary meeting of the Network
12. A plenary meeting of the Network will take place in Strasbourg in the second half of 20071 to enable the Network members having exchanges as regards their contribution to the works of the CEPEJ, from the four working issues proposed for 2007.
13. Part of the plenary meeting could consist in workshops (and possibly sub workshops as regards timeframes of proceedings – see paragraph 7) enabling to gather the Pilot courts according to the working issues selected (see paragraph 11).
14. It might also be desirable to group the pilot courts according to their status and functions - e.g. first instance, appellate, supreme courts and/or courts of general jurisdiction, specialized courts, etc.
2.3 Exchanges of information
15. A restricted access for the Pilot courts has been organised within the new Web site of the CEPEJ. The Pilot courts could indicate to the Secretariat the kind of information which could be exchanged through this restricted site.
16. Furthermore, the Network members could be invited to contribute to the development of the public web site of the CEPEJ:
§ in allowing, where appropriate, the inclusion of a hyperlink between the CEPEJ web site and the court web site,
§ in proposing articles and reflections enabling to complete the thematic files of the CEPEJ.
17. One ore two Pilot court(s) could be solicited to contribute to each "CEPEJ Newsletter".
2.4 Active participation in the European Day of Justice
18. Each Pilot court could be encouraged to organise a specific activity within the framework of the European Day of Justice (25 October).
Main elements for the functioning of the CEPEJ Network of Pilot Courts
1. Role of the Network
1.1 A forum of information
§ Pilot courts are privileged addressees of the information on the work and achievements of the CEPEJ (vertical information). They are invited to disseminate this information within their national networks.
§ Within the Network, Pilot courts must be able to communicate and cooperate, exchange views, request information, etc. (horizontal information).
1.2 A forum of reflection
§ The Network should be consulted on the various issues addressed by the CEPEJ, beyond the specific issue of judicial timeframes.
§ A proper balance between civil and criminal justice should be maintained as regards the functioning of justice systems.
§ Spontaneous reflections, proposals and comments by the Pilot courts to the CEPEJ are encouraged.
1.3 An area of implementation
§ Some Pilot courts can be proposed to trial at local level some specific measures proposed by the CEPEJ, according to modalities jointly agreed.
2. Working methods
§ Exchanges and reflections within the Network focus on common problems and transposable solutions.
Considering the diversity of the courts involved in the Network, some reflections can be developed within specific clusters defined either according to the kind of courts or according to geographical criteria. However the reflection should remain transparent and be of benefit to all members of the Network.
§ Exchanges between judicial practitioners, who represent their courts and do not commit their governments, must keep an informal nature as far as possible.
§ Being a member of the Network is a project for the whole court, where judges, prosecutors and administrative staff attached to the court, and possibly the local bar association, should be involved. Subsequently the representatives of the courts in the Network are invited to organise appropriate information and consultation within their courts.
§ The Network's members are invited to have regular contacts with the member of the CEPEJ in respect of their country.
§ Pilot courts are encouraged to participate actively in the European Day of Justice (25 October) and to the European Prize for innovative practices contributing to the quality of justice: 'The Crystal Scales of Justice".
3. Working means
§ The Secretariat of the CEPEJ is the main interlocutor of the members of the Network. In order to facilitate contacts, each Pilot court is invited to appoint one specific contact person to the Secretariat.
§ The CEPEJ Web site (www.coe.int/CEPEJ) is a key tool for acceding to the CEPEJ documents, exchanging information and, as far as possible, developing exchanges, through the Secretariat of the CEPEJ.
A restricted and secured area is reserved to the members of the Network within this Web site for any specific issues regarding the life of the Network.
§ Subject to available budget, the Network can meet regularly.