Strasbourg, 7 February 2013
EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE
21st Bureau meeting
Paris, 5 February 2013
Report prepared by the Secretariat
Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law
1. The Bureau of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) held its 21st meeting in Paris on 5 February 2013, with John STACEY (United Kingdom), President of the CEPEJ, in the chair.
2. The following members of the Bureau were also present:
§ Georg STAWA (Austria), Vice-President of the CEPEJ;
Irakli ADEISHVILI (Georgia), member;
§ Audun BERG (Norway), member.
3. The agenda is set out in the appendix. .
4. The President of the CEPEJ said he had visited Ankara and Istanbul from 14 and 16 January 2013, at the invitation of the Turkish authorities and in particular the Turkish High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HCJP), as part of a delegation that also included the Presidents of the CCJE (Gerhard REISSNER, Austria) and the CCPE (Joao DA SILVA MIGUEL, Portugal) as well as Hanne JUNCHER and Stéphane LEYENBERGER from the Secretariat, to assess the progress made in reforming Turkey’s judicial system since the 2010 referendum on the justice system. The delegation had noted the considerable efforts made by Turkey in reforming and modernising its judiciary. Direct use was being made of CEPEJ tools, in particular the evaluation report, to guide these reforms.
5. The Bureau agreed to invite a delegation from Turkey to give a presentation at the next meeting on the specific ways in which CEPEJ tools were being used.
6. The President and the Secretariat thanked the Turkish authorities for the visit, which had been excellent in terms of both what it covered and how it was organised.
7. The Bureau welcomed the move to bolster the CEPEJ Secretariat by recruiting, under the internal procedure, two lawyers, one of whom would be responsible mainly for supporting the implementation of the intergovernmental programme and the other specifically for co-ordinating the CEPEJ programme of activities with Morocco and Jordan. It was disappointed, however, that the request for the recruitment of a statistician, which was urgently needed and vital for the continuation of the exercise to evaluate European judicial systems, had yet to receive a positive response from the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.
8. The Secretariat nevertheless stated that other solutions were being considered, including the possibility of seconding a statistician from a member state. The Bureau stressed that the person recruited must have the necessary expertise, given the complexity of the task which they would be required to perform and which involved inter alia collecting, verifying and processing more than three million items of information and managing this database over time.
9. The President of the CEPEJ thanked the Secretariat for the extremely able manner in which the 10th anniversary celebrations had been organised at the last plenary meeting of the CEPEJ (Strasbourg, 6 December 2012) and welcomed the media impact of this event. The Secretariat noted that there was now a special file on the 10th anniversary on the CEPEJ website, including the various interviews conducted on that occasion.
2. Evaluation of judicial systems
a. Dissemination in Europe of the Report “European judicial systems”, 2012 edition
10. The Secretariat said that the dissemination of the Report published at the end of September 2012 was continuing and thanked the numerous CEPEJ members and observers who had taken part, thus helping to publicise each new edition of the Report within Europe.
11. A new version of the Report was to be published shortly, including the corrections submitted by Greece, Italy and Norway and which currently appeared in an erratum appended to the Report. The Bureau thanked Adis HODZIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina), member of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL, who had incorporated the corrections in the report and then checked all the tables, illustrations and comments for consistency.
12. Audun BERG said he was awaiting this new version with keen interest, as the Report was well-known and used in Norwegian courts. As soon as the update was published, his authorities would launch a media campaign to publicise the Report. The Secretariat pointed out that, if necessary, a small number of copies could be made available in a few days.
13. At the next meeting of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL (Strasbourg, 10 and 11 April 2013), the CEPEJ Evaluation Scheme, which was being revised for the 2014 exercise (2012 data), was expected to be finalised. Without changing the current numbering, this new Scheme was to include some additional questions in order to take account of: (i) the concern to give particular attention to child-friendly justice and parity within the justice system, which were key working themes for the Council of Europe at present; (ii) the European Commission’s interest in becoming involved in the process of evaluating its European judicial systems; (iii) the possible involvement of OECD member states in the evaluation process.
14. This finalised Scheme would then need to be adopted by the CEPEJ, electronically, before being made available to national correspondents from May, thereby marking the official start of the new evaluation exercise. States would have to submit their replies to the Secretariat by 31 December 2013. Whilst aware of the enormous workload demanded of countries every two years, the Bureau urged member states and more specifically the national correspondents to submit their replies to the Secretariat as swiftly as possible, without waiting until the end of the year.
15. The Vice-President hoped that including these additional questions would not mean that it would no longer be possible to look up, in the electronic version of the Scheme, the replies given in the previous exercise.
16. The Bureau expressed the hope that all 47 member states would participate in the next evaluation exercise and proposed that, at the next plenary meeting of the CEPEJ (Strasbourg, 20 and 21 June 2013), the representatives of Liechtenstein (bearing in mind that this country was not represented on a regular basis at plenary meetings), which had not taken part in the 2012 exercise, and the representatives of Germany, which had taken part in the 2012 exercise but not the 2010 one, be officially asked about their intentions in this respect.
17. The Bureau also instructed the Secretariat to rapidly organise a consultation of national correspondents on ways of improving the format of the electronic Scheme and the procedures for using it.
18. The Secretariat noted that the next meeting of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL was to devote only one day to its own work, with the 2nd day being given over to a joint meeting with the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL (see also paragraph 28 below).
19. The Bureau held an exchange of views on whether forthcoming evaluation exercises could and should include any non-member states which so requested. Such requests, indeed, were likely to be forthcoming, either from non-European states which were members of the OECD, or from individual states interested to see how they compared with European states.
20. The Bureau felt that this was a very important matter, from both a political and an organisational viewpoint. In its opinion, allowing states other than the 47 member states of the Council of Europe to take part would make the exercise more rewarding and serve to enhance its reputation and credibility beyond Europe’s borders and in other international organisations (thus preventing a similar process from being initiated in parallel, without any way of regulating it, e.g. with regard to the methods used). It should also be noted, however, that extending the exercise to include more states would mean extra work and costs.
21. At this stage of the discussion, the CEPEJ Bureau agreed on the following points, it being understood that this position of principle could not take effect until after it had been approved by the competent political authorities of the Council of Europe:
Ø since this was a political matter, and in order to ensure that due account was taken of the specific context in the countries concerned, the Bureau considered that only non-member states which had observer status with the CEPEJ should be allowed to take part in the exercise; insofar as the workload was liable to vary depending on the level of demand, the CEPEJ should not make an official decision until it saw how many requests were submitted during the current year;
Ø non-member states should share in the costs of the exercise by making a voluntary contribution (a sum of €5 000 per exercise, corresponding to roughly 100 hours of work per additional country, was suggested);
Ø non-member states would not have any decision-making power with regard to the evaluation process (design of the Scheme, procedures for replying, etc.);
Ø the CEPEJ report would in any case remain a European report, describing European averages and trends; the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL would decide on a case-by-case basis how best to deal with the additional data collected in the database from non-member states (e.g. an appendix to the Report or a specific publication comparing a non-member state with a few comparable European states).
d. Peer review co-operation process
22. The Secretariat noted that at the last plenary meeting, the Belgian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and UK candidatures had been mentioned, with a possible joint activity involving the three Baltic states, under an arrangement similar to that used in 2010 in the Nordic countries. So far, only Lithuania had confirmed the possibility of holding a peer meeting, and it had not specified whether the other two Baltic states would join in. The Bureau instructed the Secretariat to contact the potential candidates again to try to organise two peer meetings in 2013.
23. The CEPEJ’s SATURN Centre was working on the implementation of its strategic action plan. In this context, it had entrusted various tasks to consultants:
Ø preparation of a report on the situation with regard to timeframes of proceedings based on an analysis of the 2010 data contained in the CEPEJ Report; revision of a questionnaire with a view to expanding it, to be sent to the pilot courts concerning civil, criminal and administrative proceedings; setting of targets for judicial timeframes based on categories of cases ((Marco FABRI, Italy);
Ø updating of a study on the length of proceedings in appeal courts and supreme courts in the light of the 2010 data contained in the CEPEJ Report (Marco VELICOGNA, Italy).
24. In order to respond to practitioners’ expectations as closely as possible, the Working Group had also decided to improve the Guidelines for judicial time management by updating them and adding some comments and practical examples.
25. The CEPEJ-GT-QUAL was working on draft guidelines on the organisation and accessibility of court premises. The working group had chosen to begin by sending a questionnaire to the pilot courts, taking the view that, as a rule, judges were not sufficiently consulted about such matters. The Bureau believed that such guidelines were eagerly awaited by practitioners and hoped that the latter would be widely consulted, in particular barristers.
26. The Working Group was also pressing ahead with the task of developing guidelines on the organisation of judicial maps, based inter alia on a comparative study conducted by researchers at Sciences Po Strasbourg Consulting. The Bureau asked for a copy of this study to be sent to it for information.
27. At the same time, François PAYCHERE (Switzerland), Chair of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL, was preparing terms of reference for an expert who would be responsible for producing a preliminary study on the role of judicial experts in proceedings. The chapter of the last CEPEJ evaluation report on experts should make a valuable contribution to this discussion.
28. Lastly, the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL was seeking to identify indicators for measuring the quality of justice. In view of the various possible approaches, the Working Group was going to get together with the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL at its next meeting (11 April 2013). The Bureau suggested that Jacques BUHLER, Chair of the Steering Group of the SATURN Centre, also be invited to this joint meeting.
29. The Secretariat had yet to receive confirmation of the possibility of holding the next annual meeting of pilot courts (scheduled for 26 September 2013) in Marseilles, the Marseilles Tribunal de Grande Instance, which was a member of the Network, being a potential venue for “Marseilles, 2013 capital of culture”.
30. The Bureau thanked Jean-Paul JEAN (France), Chair of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL, and the Secretariat for the able manner in which they had presented the CEPEJ evaluation report to the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee (civil liberties, justice, internal affairs) on 22 January 2013 and said that the report had been very well received, in particular by the Chair of the Committee, Lopez AGUILAR (Spain).
31. The Bureau was informed that the CEPEJ experts’ report for the European Commission on the impact of the functioning of justice systems of member states of the European Union on the economic situation of these countries had been finalised. This report would be used inter alia to prepare the report on growth in the European Union and a communication from the European Commission on the evaluation of European judicial systems. The Secretariat informed the Bureau that it had met the members of the new Unit 03 set up within DG-Justice under the title “General justice policies and judicial systems”; this initial contact boded well for further and closer co-operation with the CEPEJ. The Secretariat had stressed the need to work from the CEPEJ’s methodology, attaching the utmost importance to the scientific credibility of the exercise and to the trust established with member states in this context. Members of this Unit were expected to attend the next meeting of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL.
32. The CEPEJ was continuing its activities under the joint programmes with the European Union:
Ø “Strengthening democratic reform in the southern Neighbourhood: Morocco, Tunisia” and the programme for Jordan: the activity in Morocco (specific activities with 3 pilot courts) was at a slightly more advanced stage than the one in Tunisia (finalisation of an initial report without a full evaluation owing to missing statistics); the programme with Jordan was still being negotiated;
Ø “Efficiency of justice in the countries of the Eastern Partnership”: several experts from the CEPEJ had produced a very good report containing a detailed analysis of courts’ performance, based on the CEPEJ evaluation report, and recommending specific measures;
Ø “Court Management System in Turkey”: the programme for training courts in the use of the SATURN tools had been incorporated in this joint programme and was expected to benefit 21 courts in Turkey through training for trainers.
In all these programmes, the activities were based extensively and principally on CEPEJ tools.
33. The Secretariat informed the Bureau of the European Commission’s decision not to hold the “Crystal Scales of Justice” in 2013 and to devote the 2014 edition to child-friendly justice. The Bureau expressed disappointment at this decision which would mean that the next “Crystal Scales of Justice” would be held the same year as the next evaluation exercise, whereas holding the competition every two years would help to ensure that the two events did not clash. In addition, having a set theme for the Prize, however relevant it might be, risked reducing the number of entries. The Bureau would prefer to have a competition featuring two separate sections, one general, the other thematic, if necessary, so as to give as many candidates as possible the chance to take part. It instructed the Secretariat to continue the discussions to this effect with the European Commission.
34. Broadly speaking, the Bureau drew attention to the fact that the development of the co-operation programmes under the CEPEJ’s programme of activity, while extremely positive and much appreciated, demanded increased efforts from the experts, who were under considerable pressure as it was. More experts should be enlisted and trained in the use of CEPEJ tools. It was proposed for example that members of the CEPEJ and its working groups regularly invite other national experts capable of co-operating in this context to attend CEPEJ meetings and so familiarise themselves with its work. A number of these missions could be paid for out of the CEPEJ budget.
35. In response to the growing number of requests for CEPEJ members or Secretariat staff to speak at meetings, conferences and various events in connection with co-operation activities, the Bureau agreed that in future, there would need to be some rigorous selection, not least in order to accommodate the prospective speakers’ busy work schedules. It was agreed that certain requests would be forwarded in a more systematic way to the CCJE or CCPE when it was felt that these committees were equally qualified to assist.
36. In any event, the Secretariat noted that the procedure on receiving a request for a speaker was as follows: request to be forwarded as a matter of priority to the President of the CEPEJ and, if the President was not available, to the Bureau which would then decide whether to send one of its members, a member of the CEPEJ or someone from the Secretariat.
8. Gender equality in the activities of the CEPEJ
37. The Secretariat informed the Bureau that there had been no new information from the relevant Council of Europe department on this subject since the last plenary meeting of the CEPEJ.
38. The Bureau referred to the special attention given by the CEPEJ to this matter. The analysis of gender parity in the composition of the judiciary contained in the 2012 evaluation report had met with a very positive reception and been extensively commented on. The CEPEJ was currently exploring the possibility of including new questions on gender parity in the justice sphere in its new evaluation scheme (see also paragraph 13 above).
9. Individual complaints submitted to the CEPEJ concerning judicial matters
39. The Secretariat said that it had not received any specific complaints that required examination by the Bureau.
1. Adoption of the agenda
2. Information by the President of the CEPEJ and the Secretariat
3. Implementation of the 2013 Activity programme
a. Calendar of the meetings
b. Evaluation of judicial systems
§ Situation concerning the dissemination of the 2012 Report
§ Launching of the next evaluation process – 2014 Report
§ Necessity of a statistician for the next exercise
§ Co-operation with OECD
§ Co-operation with non-member States
§ Peer review cooperation process (Situation concerning the following candidatures : Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, United Kingdom)
c. SATURN Centre
d. Quality of Justice
§ Information on the ongoing activities
§ Organisation of the work to define, with the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL, indicators of quality of justice /
4. Co-operation with the European Union
§ Follow-up of the co-operation with the EU concerning the impact of the functioning of justice systems of EU members States on the economic situation of these countries
§ CEPEJ co-operation programmes: (i) Strengthening democratic reform in the southern neibourhood : Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan; (ii) Efficiency of justice in the countries of the Eastern Partnership
§ European Day of Justice and "Crystal Scales of Justice"
5. Targeted co-operation
6. Representation of the CEPEJ in other meetings
7. Gender issues within CEPEJ activity
8. Individual complaints submitted to the CEPEJ concerning justice matters /
9. Any other business