1. This report outlines the work undertaken by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)1 in 2010 in accordance with its Programme of Activities2. It was drafted by the Bureau, adopted by the CEPEJ at its 17th Plenary Meeting (28 and 29 June 2011) and submitted to the Committee of Ministers for approval, pursuant to Articles 7-6 and 7-7 of the CEPEJ Statute.
1. THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE (CEPEJ) in 2009
1.1 Membership of the CEPEJ
2. The CEPEJ is made up of experts from the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. Only two states (Liechtenstein and San Marino) were not represented on the CEPEJ during the year. Two of the states enjoying observer status with the Council of Europe, Canada and Japan, participated in the two plenary meetings and Mexico was represented at one of them.
3. Mr Fausto DE SANTIS (Italy) was President of the CEPEJ and Mr John STACEY (United Kingdom) was Vice-President. The other members of the Bureau were Ms Elsa GARCIA MALTRAS de BLAS (Spain) and Mr Georg STAWA (Austria).
4. The European Court of Human Rights, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE), the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE), the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ), the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) and the Steering Committee on Human Rights (CDDH) were also represented at plenary meetings.
5. The European Union was regularly represented at the plenary and working group meetings, by the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the Secretariat of the European Parliament and the Fundamental Rights Agency.
6. The European Association of Judges, MEDEL (Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés), the European Federation of Administrative Judges, the Council of the Bars of the European Community (CCBE), the European Union of Rechtspfleger (EUR), the International Union of Judicial Officers (UIHJ), the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN), the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) and the American Bar Association – Rule of Law Initiative have observer status.
1.2 Meetings of the CEPEJ
7. The CEPEJ held its 15th plenary meeting on 9-10 September and its 16th plenary meeting on 8-9 December in Strasbourg.
8. The Bureau of the CEPEJ met in Strasbourg on 22 January and 29 September.
9. The Working Group for the Evaluation of Judicial Systems (CEPEJ-GT-EVAL) met in Strasbourg on 2-3 March, 6-7 May and 4-5 November, with Mr Jean-Paul JEAN (France) in the chair. The steering group of the SATURN Centre for Judicial Time Management met in Geneva, at the invitation of the Swiss Federal Tribunal, on 12 - 14 April, and in Strasbourg on 5 – 6 October, with Mr Jacques BÜHLER (Switzerland) in the chair. The Working Group on the Quality of Justice (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL) met in Strasbourg on 29-30 March and 23-24 September, with Mr François PAYCHERE (Switzerland) in the chair.
10. The fifth plenary meeting of the CEPEJ’s network of pilot courts was held in Geneva on 13 April and the fourth plenary meeting of the network of national correspondents took place in Strasbourg on 5 May.
2. ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE CEPEJ IN 2010
11. The CEPEJ’s work programme is part of Chapter II, “Rule of Law” and Line of Action II.1, “Functioning and efficiency of justice” of the Council of Europe’s programme of activities, under the “Evaluating and improving the efficiency of justice” project. The CEPEJ’s task is central to the Council of Europe’s activities in that it is expected to promote “common fundamental values: human rights, rule of law and democracy” by “strengthening democracy, good governance and the rule of law in member states”.3
12. The CEPEJ has been entrusted by the Committee of Ministers with the task of proposing practical solutions, suitable for use by Council of Europe member states, with a view to:
§ promoting the effective implementation of existing Council of Europe instruments relating to the organisation of justice;
§ ensuring that public policies concerning the courts take account of the needs of users of the justice system and, in particular, the judiciary and law officers;
§ helping to reduce congestion in the European Court of Human Rights by offering states effective solutions prior to application to the Court and preventing violations of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
13. In the Action Plan adopted at their 3rd Summit (Warsaw, May 2005), the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe member states decided to develop the evaluation and assistance activities of the CEPEJ to help member states deliver justice fairly and rapidly and to develop alternative dispute resolution methods.
14. The activity programme was implemented according to the second medium term activity programme for the period 2010 – 20144.
2.1 Tools for analysing the functioning of judicial systems and ensuring that public policies relating to the courts are geared to greater efficiency
2.1.1 Evaluating the functioning of European judicial systems
Publication of the Report «European judicial systems – 2010 Edition"
15. The 2008 - 2010 cycle for evaluating the day-to-day functioning of judicial systems was successfully concluded with the publication of the CEPEJ’s third report, which was adopted at the 15th plenary meeting (10 September) and made public in the context of the European Day of Justice, held in Ljubljana on 25 October at the invitation of the Slovenian Ministry of Justice.
16. The CEPEJ had instructed its working group (CEPEJ-GT-EVAL) to prepare the report. The Secretariat had appointed Ms Natalia DELGRANDE (Moldova), scientific expert in charge of processing national data submitted by member states and preparing the preliminary draft report, in co-operation with the Secretariat of the CEPEJ, which had the added assistance of a special advisor seconded by the Swiss Federal Tribunal.
17. The collecting and processing of data was facilitated by the development of the electronic questionnaire. The experts worked in close co-operation with the national correspondents responsible for co-ordinating states’ replies to the questionnaire in the context of the scheme for evaluating judicial systems.
18. Based on a tried and tested and scientifically widely recognised methodology, using a data base containing over two million entries, the report presents a detailed overview of the functioning of judicial systems in 45 member states, and, for the first time, time-series statistics highlighting changes in the judicial systems in these countries.
19. This evaluation process is unique in terms of the number of subjects and countries covered. The aim is to provide a public policy tool for policy makers, legal professionals and researchers that will assist them in conducting judicial reforms. The comparative tables and graphs and the comments help to understand the day-to-day functioning of courts, underline the main trends in judicial systems and identify any problems with a view to improving the quality, fairness and efficiency of the public service of justice. It is a sound tool for enhancing mutual knowledge of judicial systems and strengthening mutual confidence between legal professionals.
20. The report was widely disseminated in member states and beyond, and has become a major reference for reforming public policies of justice in Europe. The report was published on the CEPEJ website, together with a presentation document and member states’ full individual replies. The number of connections to the CEPEJ website increased considerably once the report had been put online5. It was also distributed to relevant bodies in member states (ministries of justice, supreme courts and schools of judges and prosecutors), the relevant bodies of the Council of Europe and of the international and European organisations concerned. The main European media largely presented and commented on the report6.
21. The Committee of Ministers, the relevant national governments and the judicial bodies of member states also showed considerable interest in the report. Several states pointed out that the report had been discussed in the media and by political bodies such as the ministry of justice, the parliament, political parties and judicial bodies such as councils for the judiciary and professional associations. Some states also said that the report had been used directly in conducting judicial reforms. Several states had translated the report either in full or in part.
22. At its 16th plenary meeting, the CEPEJ devoted a study session to studying and following up the conclusions of the report. A special file is available on the CEPEJ website.
23. In the context of the peer evaluation of judicial statistics systems, a visit involving not only the Norwegian authorities but also experts from Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden was made to Oslo on 19 and 20 May. The aim of the process is to assist states in their efforts to enhance the quality of their judicial statistics, improve their statistical systems and ensure that national statistics are consistent with the standards set out in the CEPEJ’s evaluation scheme. It provides the opportunity to exchange experiences between national judicial statistics systems, share best practices, identify common indicators and transfer knowledge. It also seeks to improve and help ensure the transparency and reliability of the CEPEJ’s evaluation process.
Co-operation with the European Union
24. Certain European Union bodies – the Council of the EU, the European Commission and the European Parliament (which are regularly represented at the preparatory meetings of the CEPEJ) - were very interested in the report as a tool designed to strengthen mutual confidence between judicial systems. The need for co-operation between the CEPEJ and the European Union in this field is underlined in both the Stockholm Programme, which was adopted by the EU member states in December 2009 and fixes the EU’s priorities in the field of justice, freedoms and security, and in the corresponding action plan adopted under the Spanish chairmanship.
25. [The CEPEJ was invited to Brussels on 2 February 2011 for an informal exchange of views on the evaluation process with the delegations of EU member states, the representatives of the Commission and the Council of the EU. Such a meeting between the representatives of a Council of Europe Committee and the delegations of EU member states in Brussels was the first meeting of its type in the context of co-operation between the two institutions.]
2.1.2 Optimising and improving the foreseeability of the timeframes of judicial procedures: the SATURN Centre
26. Resolution N° 1 of the 30th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Justice (Istanbul, 24 – 26 November) "on a modern, transparent and efficient justice" invites "the Committee of Ministers to build on the work of the SATURN centre within CEPEJ, further developing its capacity to acquire better knowledge of the time required for judicial proceedings in the member States, with a view to developing tools to enable the member States to better meet their obligations under Article 6 of the ECHR regarding the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time".
27. The CEPEJ SATURN Centre for Judicial Time Management continued its work in setting up a European observatory of judicial timeframes and developing appropriate tools, with the expert assistance of the CEPEJ Network of pilot courts.
28. In a qualitative approach, the SATURN Centre has developed a "coaching" programme, which is being tested in several pilot courts giving courts who so wish the opportunity to put the CEPEJ’s time management tools into practice. With this in mind a protocol and a methodology are currently being finalised.
29. In a quantity approach, the Centre looks in greater depth at length of proceedings and times taken to process backlogs in courts on the basis of the information gathered in the course of the evaluation of judicial systems by the CEPEJ. This approach takes account of the comparability of the information available. With the same aim in mind, it has commissioned a scientific expert to update the report: " Length of court proceedings in the member states of the Council of Europe based on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights " (CEPEJ Studies – N° 13) and continued its exchanges of views with the departments of the European Court of Human Rights on the basis of the available statistics concerning violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
2.1.3. Promoting the quality of justice
30. With a view to fostering quality systems in member states’ courts, the CEPEJ approved the Study: "Quality management in courts and in the judicial organisations in 8 Council of Europe member States", published as one of the "CEPEJ Studies" (Study N° 13) at the initiative of the Working Group on quality of justice (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL). This study was co-ordinated by Mr Philippe LANGBROEK, scientific expert.
31. The CEPEJ believes that, in order to improve the public service of justice, policy makers and justice professionals must take account of how users of justice perceive the service. The CEPEJ-GT-QUAL has therefore worked with Mr Jean-Paul JEAN and Ms Hélène JORRY (France), scientific experts, in preparing a "Report on conducting satisfaction surveys aimed at court users in Council of Europe member states", published in the “CEPEJ Studies” series (Study N° 15). On the basis of this report, the CEPEJ adopted a "Handbook on conducting satisfaction surveys aimed at court users in Council of Europe member states "7, designed mainly for heads of courts who wish to organise such surveys in their jurisdiction.
32. The Handbook is being tested in several pilot courts, for example in Angoulême (France) and in Catania and Turin (Italy). Member states’ courts will be encouraged to use it, in the light of the conclusions of these tests and with the assistance of various networks (pilot courts, Lisbon Network, the European Union of Rechtpfleger, and universities).
33. A report on: "contractualisation and judicial process in Europe", based on the findings of Mr Julien LHUILLIER (France), scientific expert, is currently being finalised.
2.2 Developing exchanges with networks of professionals
34. In accordance with Article 3.e of its Statute, the CEPEJ has set up networks of professionals working in the field of justice to support its work on the basis of information and comments from practitioners and to facilitate the appropriation of the measures it establishes by those at whom they are primarily aimed.
2.2.1 Network of Pilot Courts
35. The Network of pilot courts seeks to ensure that the CEPEJ’s activities are firmly rooted in the reality of the day-to-day functioning of justice and to ensure their relevance vis-à-vis the expectations of the judicial professionals. The Network’s fifth plenary meeting was held in Geneva, at the invitation of the Swiss Federal Tribunal. 33 member states were represented.
36. The meeting provided the opportunity to present CEPEJ activities aimed directly at courts:
- the handbook on conducting satisfaction surveys;
- research on judicial timeframes based on data provided by pilot courts
- the protocol for the implementation of tools and measures devised by the SATURN Centre;
and to hold an exchange of views with legal professionals on the possible implementation of the above-mentioned activities on a wider scale.
37. The pilot courts were invited to test the handbook on satisfaction surveys and the protocol for the implementation of time management tools by putting it into practice.
2.2.2 Lisbon Network
38. At its 14th plenary meeting, the CEPEJ decided to include the European Network for the exchange of information between persons and entities responsible for the training of judges and public prosecutors (Lisbon Network) in its activity programme. [The working modalities of this Network were discussed at the plenary meeting of the network, which was held on 17 February 2011].
39. The fourth plenary meeting of national correspondents responsible for judicial statistics (Strasbourg, 6 May) marked an important point in the evaluation of judicial systems, particularly as regards validation of the data and the way in which they were used in the report (see para. 15 to 22 above).
2.3 Supporting member states in their judicial reforms
40. At the request of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), which had expressed the desire to have the CEPEJ’s expert assistance, a team of experts appointed by the Bureau of the CEPEJ travelled to Abu Dhabi (23 – 25 February) to study the performance of the judicial system and prepare a report suggesting ways of making the system more efficient. The report was approved by the CEPEJ8. This co-operation proves that the CEPEJ has become a reference in matters concerning the functioning of the public service of justice, also outside the European continent.
41. The CEPEJ approved its experts’ report on “Analysis of rationalisation of the court network" carried out at the request of the Ministry of Justice of Montenegro9.
2.4 Contributing specific expertise to the debate on the functioning of the justice system: providing the legal and judicial community with a forum for discussion and suggestions and bringing justice systems and their users closer
Within the Council of Europe
42. The CEPEJ also developed specific working relations with other committees of the Council of Europe, such as the advisory committees (CCJE, CCPE), standard-setting committees (CDPC, CDCJ, CDDH) and other bodies dealing with matters relating to justice (e.g. Venice Commission
43. For example it took part in the working group which drafted Recommendation Rec (2010) 12 on judges: independence, efficiency and responsibilities, which it had initiated.
44. The members of the CEPEJ have also been asked to reply to the questionnaire on the cost of proceedings in supreme courts, submitted by the DH-GDR with a view to preparing a report on the subject.
In co-operation with the European Union
45. For its fifth edition, the “Crystal Scales of Justice”, organised jointly by the Council of Europe and the European Commission, was awarded for the first time in both the civil and the criminal law field. The Jury, comprising 11 eminent European lawyers, drew up a list of winners from among the 50 candidates, a record number of candidatures showing the substantial interest generated by this event. The prize was awarded in the context of the flagship event of the European Day of Justice, held in Ljubljana on 25 October at the invitation of the Slovenian Ministry of Justice.
46. The winner of the fifth edition is the Administrative Court of Yambol (Bulgaria) for its initiative: "Everyone is equal before the law, but not before the language! Improving communication between courts and citizens", ",
The three institutions which were granted a special mention by the jury are:
§ § the Regional Court of Linz and FMG Amor (Austria) for their "Alternative measures for young drivers convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol",
§ § the University of Technology and Ministry of Justice (Finland) for their "New way of systematic management of delay reduction projects in courts",
§ § the Supreme Court of Slovenia for the "Automated validation of authentic documents".
47. The European Day of Justice was celebrated on and around 25 October in 16 member states.
With other international partners and certain specific member states
48. The CEPEJ was also represented by several of its members or its secretariat at the 15 following events, which took place in Europe and in other parts of the work and addressed issues of direct relevance to the functioning of justice:
- Training: "Une approche européenne de l’efficacité de la justice" (a European approach to the efficiency of justice), Ecole Nationale de la Magistrature, Bordeaux, France, 16 February;
- Permanent Council of the International Union of Judicial Officers, Glasgow, United Kingdom, 6 - 7 May;
- Conference: "Measuring confidence and public attitudes to justice, Parma, Italy, 6 - 7 May,
- Conference: "Development of the legal profession in Europe and impact on the functioning of civil justice" organised by the Interuniversity Centre Dubrovnik, Croatia, 27 - 28 May;
- 7th European meetings on procedures, Toulon, France, 11 June;
- Conference: "Improving the efficiency of the system for the professional evaluation of judges", Bucharest, Romania, 14-15 June;
- Seminar: "Assessing the quality of justice", held by Euromed Justice II, Luxembourg, 15 - 17 June 2010;
- International Conference on enhancing the efficiency of execution procedures, Lisbon, Portugal, 18-19 June;
- Colloquy on “Comparative Law and International Organizations: Cooperation, Competition and Connections” from 9-10 September 2010, in Lausanne (Switzerland).;
- Colloquy: "Justice in Numbers" held by the National Council of Justice, Brazil, 23-24 September;
- Summer school on managing the change to a new system of justice, held by the International Menendez Pelayo University, Spain, 12 - 13 October
- Conference: “Members of the judiciary serving justice: a European approach” held by the Ecole Nationale de Magistrature, Bordeaux, France, 29 October;
- Western Hemisphere Regional Conference on “Access to Justice in Criminal, Commercial and International Courts”, organised by the International Association for Court Administration (IACA);
- International Summit of High Courts,: "Responsibility and transparency", Istanbul, Turkey,
1 – 3 November;
- International conference on the quality of justice, Brussels, Belgium - 18 - 19 November 2010.
49. In addition to the articles concerning the report on the evaluation of judicial systems (see para. 20 above), the activities of the CEPEJ were also presented and commented on in numerous articles in legal publications such as Les Cahiers de la Justice, Regards sur l'actualité (France), Credit Today, Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council Newsletter (United Kingdom) and La Revue trimestrielle des droits de l'Homme.
50. This proves the importance that the European and international judicial communities attach to the work of the CEPEJ.
51. Two issues of the "CEPEJ Newsletter" were published, sent electronically to close to 2,000 recipients (registered free of charge on a mailing list), dealing with topics relating to the functioning of justice with articles written by senior judicial or political figures and experts, together with news of what the CEPEJ has been doing.
52. The CEPEJ’s internet site has met with increasing success in 2010 with 250,000 connections. The site is now a standard reference within the European judicial community.