Strasbourg, 5 December 2008

CEPEJ-GT-EVAL(2008)1

European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)

Pilot co-operation process / Peer review on judicial statistics

Visit reports: Paris (France), 31 January – 1er February 2008; Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), 26-27 March 2008; Warsaw (Poland), 28-29 April 2008

General introduction

1. The exercise to evaluate judicial systems carried out by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) has the aim of progressively defining a core of quantitative as well as qualitative key elements, collected on a regular basis and examined in the same way in all member states of the Council of Europe. It will then allow the pinpointing of common indicators on the quality and the efficiency of the functioning of justice within the member states of the Council of Europe, in order to present a unique picture of the organisation of justice in Europe.

2. Given the stakes at hand, practical precautions are necessary to give credit to such an exercise. With that end in view, the 47 members of the CEPEJ have framed an evaluation scheme which has been discussed and is to become constant, and has set up a system of national delegates permitting efficient communication with the secretariat of the CEPEJ. Finally, guidelines on statistics are being discussed.

3. With a view to upgrading its methods, the CEPEJ decided at its 10th meeting (Strasbourg, 5-6 December 2007) to set up a pilot peer review co-operation process in order to strengthen the credibility of the data collected in the framework of the activity for evaluating European judicial systems1. This pilot co-operation process will consist in visits to three States on a voluntary basis: France, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Poland.

4. The main objectives of this co-operation are as follows :

§ Supporting CoE member states in:

- improving the quality of their judicial statistics,

- developing their statistics system so that judicial statistics at national level are in line with the common indicators defined through the CEPEJ's Evaluation Scheme.

§ Facilitating exchange of experiences between national judicial statistics systems, sharing good practices, identifying benchmarks and facilitating knowledge transfer.

§ Contributing to the transparency and accountability of the CEPEJ process for evaluating European judicial systems and helping to improve the process.

5. After this pilot exercise, the CEPEJ will monitor the process in order to decide on the advisability of a possible extension to other States.

Evaluation mission n°1 (Paris, France)

Presentation

Date :

31 January and 1st February 2008

Organiser :

Department of European and international affairs/Service des Affaires européennes et internationales (SAEI), French Ministry of Justice

Ms Hélène DAVO, Chargé de mission to the SAEI and national correspondent to the CEPEJ.

Participants for the CEPEJ :

Mr Fausto DE SANTIS (Italy), Chair of the CEPEJ

Mr Adis HODZIC (Bosnia-Herzegovina), member of the CEPEJ, of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL and national correspondent

Ms Elsa GARCIA-MALTRAS (Spain), member of the CEPEJ, of the Bureau of the CEPEJ, of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL and national correspondent

Mr Jean-Paul SUDRE (France), member of the CEPEJ

Mr Jean-Paul JEAN (France), President of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL

Ms Muriel DECOT (Council of Europe), Co-Secretary of the CEPEJ

Programme:

Thursday 31 January 2008

9.30 Welcome address by the Department of European and International Affairs

(«Service des Affaires européennes et internationales» )

Mr Emmanuel BARBE, Head of the SAEI and M. Jean-Paul SUDRE, Prosecutor at the Court of Appeal of Paris, French Representative to the CEPEJ

Ms Hélène DAVO, chargée de mission at the SAEI, national correspondent of the CEPEJ

[Topics to be addressed: General aspects of data collection by the CEPEJ]

10.00 Exchange of views with the Directorate for Judicial Affairs («Direction des Services judiciaires» - DSJ)

Ms Annie ZAMPONI, Head of the modernisation mission within the DSJ

[Topics to be addressed: Salaries]

10.45 Break

11.00 Exchange of views with the Directorate for General Administration and Equipment

(«Direction de l’Administration générale et de l’Equipement» - DAGE)

Mr Alain MARAIS, Deputy Director of Statistics

Ms Odile TIMBARD, Head of the Studies and activity indicators Office

[Topics to be addressed: Budget]

12.30 Lunch

14.30 Presentation on the current reform of the judicial map

Ms Véronique JACOB-DESJARDINl

Presentation of the LOLF

Ms Christine JEANNIN

16.00 Visit and exchange of views with the Regional Administrative Department

(«Service administratif Régional» - SAR)

17.30 End of the day

Friday 1 February 2008

9.30 Visit and exchange of views with the Court of Appeal of Paris

Ms Brigitte LARIDAN-GEORGEL

11.20 Meeting with Mr Laurent LE MESLE, Prosecutor General, Court of Appeal of Paris and Mr Jean-Claude MAGENDIE, First President, Court of Appeal of Paris

Visit report

1. General analysis of the organisation of collection and transmission to the Council of Europe Secretariat of the CEPEJ’s data concerning France

1.1. Sources used / Technicalities of the collection and processing of judicial data

6. The data colletion for the CEPEJ is a process which is the entire responsibility of the Ministry of Justice (see appended nomenclature). The French national correspondent is a Chargée de mission with the Department of European and International Affairs - Service des Affaires européennes et internationales (SAEI), a cross-sectoral department coming under the Secretariat General of the Ministry of Justice.

7. Data collection is performed as follows:

§ the national correspondent e mails the CEPEJ questionnaire to the relevant directorates and departments of the Ministry of Justice and requests the various data, specifying a deadline;

§ on reception, the national correspondent reads through the data and the comments attached, then incorporates the data into the CEPEJ electronic questionnaire;

§ a harmonisation meeting conducted by the national correspondent under the chairmanship of the Director of the SAEI brings together all departments and directorates asked to supply data. At the meeting, the properly completed questionnaire is reviewed question by question;

§ the data are validated by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice and the Director of the Minister’s Private Office.

8. The directorates and departments in the French Ministry of Justice which are competent for the collection of data appear as follows:

Competent department

Data

Directorate for General Administration and Equipment - Direction de l’administration générale et de l’équipement (DAGE)2

Budget

Activity of the courts

Department for access to law and justice and for urban policy - Service de l’accès au droit et à la Justice et de la politique de la ville

Aid to victims

Legal aid

Directorate for Judicial Affairs - Direction des services judiciaires (DSJ)

Judges’ career, ethics, conditions of service and salaries

Directorate of Civil Litigation - Direction des affaires civiles et du sceau

Civil cases

lawyers/Notaries

Directorate of Criminal Cases and Pardons - Direction des affaires criminelles et des grâces

Criminal cases

Conseil d’Etat

Management of the administrative courts

Department of European and International Affairs - Service des Affaires européennes et internationales (SAEI)

Data are collected from the above-mentioned departments, harmonised and sent to the CEPEJ secretariat

9. The collection of certain data requires more complex circulation between the departments as these data are under the control of several departments.

10. The CEPEJ delegation was also received at the Regional Administrative Department - Service administratif régional (SAR) and the Registry of the Paris Court of Appeal:

§ The SAR: this is the decentralised administrative and budgetary level, under the authority of the heads of courts in each of the 35 French Courts of Appeal, and is responsible for all the courts coming under a given Court of Appeal. It has a statistical pole (the Paris SAR is the only one in France to benefit from the services of an INSEE statistician) which ensures (i) recording, monitoring and analysis of activity in that Court of Appeal district (collection of registers of court business, figures for the main types of litigation, determination of lists of indicators, publication of a quarterly memorandum containing statistical tables according to type of court), (ii) liaison between the Ministerial administration and the court (methodological support ensuring good quality and uniformity of the data transmitted), (iii) statistical guidance and assistance to courts (on how to fill in the form, for verification of data, for use of the current and future indicators). The SAR uses OUTILGREF, a tool for assessing the workload of court registries. The SAR may also respond to specific requests by heads of courts (data for formal hearings or preparation of the activity report, for instance) or be called upon for expert appraisal work. The SAR, since its creation, has allowed an ongoing dialogue with the courts to be established, besides more reliable and continually renewed data collection.

§ The Registry: manages Court of Appeal activity generally and keeps a monthly record of it but does not have staff specialising in statistics. The software for registering civil litigation is identical in all courts of appeal and allows direct monthly transmission of the data to Nantes. The systems and software for collecting data in the criminal sphere vary; annual transmission of the data is carried out through “cadre du Parquet”, via the SAR. According to the chief registrar, the statistics are not yet being used in the Court of Appeal as an internal management tool.

11. Neither of these two agencies, operating under the sole authority of the Paris Court of Appeal, was directly approached for the CEPEJ data collection exercise.

12. The collection process is arbitrated at a very high level, in particular for the “sensitive” replies, such as those relating to the budget or to areas where France is conducting or planning reforms. Other reasons accounting for this high-level arbitration are the fairly extensive media coverage given to the CEPEJ’s 2006 evaluation report, and the use of the data in the report by the judicial authorities in particular.

13. It should be noted that the questions receiving special attention from the Ministry of Justice vary between states. In Bosnia-Herzegovina for example, sensitive data are those which concern compliance with European standards and which are therefore closely observed by the adjacent states.

1.2. Main difficulties encountered in answering the questionnaire

14. The French national correspondent itemises the difficulties encountered in completing the electronic questionnaire:

(i) Procedural difficulties:

§ slowness of the system: each reply needs several minutes for validation,

§ rigidity of the system: all fields have to be completed for the reply to be validated, even if this is not relevant, certain replies (choice between “yes “ and “no”) are not possible, etc;

§ danger of validation: the national correspondent preferred to ask the various departments concerned to send her the replies by e-mail and then validate them herself, to avoid any risk of replies being sent by the departments directly to the CEPEJ secretariat. This procedure means that all replies must be transcribed manually into the electronic questionnaire, cancelling out the savings of time which were expected to accrue from the introduction of the electronic questionnaire.

Problems concerning the rigidity of the system were also found in other member states, but were resolved as they arose. The problems over slowness only seem to exist in France.

The Spanish correspondent used the same procedure for validating the replies received by the internal services, and so it is proposed that with future questionnaires, provision be made for respondent departments to pre-validate the replies in the electronic questionnaire, before final validation by the national correspondent.

(ii) Substantive difficulties:

§ since certain questions are in the remit of several departments, it is hard to know who should be the addressee of the questionnaire;

§ certain questions are open to several interpretations.

One of the CEPEJ’s objectives is to convince states to include the CEPEJ’s evaluation criteria in their systems of national data; this would relieve the problem of overlapping competence between several departments.

The Secretariat confirms that, having commenced the analysis of the national data for 2006, it has also observed that some replies are interpreted differently depending on the state and that at the very least the relevant questions should be clarified in the explanatory report for the next cycle.

This is the case with question 70, which states did not always understand was a question to be answered even if the reply to question 69 was “no”». The explanatory report does not say whether question 70 concerns the performance indicators actually in use in states or those that should exist for satisfactory justice.

The replies to questions 107 and 108 on judges’ and prosecutors’ mandates are also ambiguous in so far as some states replied “no” because of retirement. The explanatory report, while seemingly very clear already, should be further specified.

2. Specific analysis of the replies

Budget

15. The Directorate of General Administration and Equipment (DAGE) notes that thanks to the reform of the Institutional Act on the Finance Act (LOLF) involving a change in the budgetary structure that allows the State’s spending on the execution of its various missions to be targeted, the 2006 budgetary data for the CEPEJ are far easier to obtain than those in respect of 2004.

2.2. Judges’ salaries

16. For France, this is one of the most problematic questions for the following reasons:

- the large number of bonuses in existence (residence allowance, duty allowance, bonus adjustable at the discretion of the heads of courts, etc);

- the fact that the questionnaire asks for the “gross annual salary” of judges (before deduction of social charges and tax), deemed to be the comparable datum. In France however, social contributions are nil or negligible on the bonuses that make up a large proportion of judges’ salary. For that reason, the French gross salary is not comparable to the gross salary of other states, and only the net salary should be taken into account.

17. Bosnia-Herzegovina also mentions its difficulties in indicating the salary of judges and proposes henceforth to examine instead the proportion of the general State budget made up by judges’ salaries (what it costs the State to pay judges).

18. It is suggested to examine in detail the comparability of the salaries indicated by France and Bosnia respectively for 2006, given that these two states have not submitted comments. It is agreed to continue this exercise at the Sarajevo meeting, in order to propose an amendment to the question for future exercises, if appropriate.

19. Another proposal would be to request the highest and lowest gross annual salaries.

20. Should it be decided to retain this indicator despite the difficulties encountered by states in calculating the gross annual salary of judges, it is suggested to take ample account of the states’ comments when analysing the replies.

21. It is also noted that at the meeting of national correspondents it would be important for them to be acquainted with the salaries of the other states in order to make a general examination of this question.

Different types of judges (professional, non-professional) and their numbers

22. Comparison of the figures for 2004 and 2006 reveals, where France is concerned, a difference of 1500 professional judges sitting in court, that is an increase of over 23%. There is no comment accompanying the reply. France will review this information.

23. As a practical exercise, the CEPEJ Group of experts submitted question 56 (categories of “non-judge staff” working in the courts) for comment to the Chief Registrar of the Paris Court of Appeal:

§ A very large budget is set aside for the staff delivering services such as security. Are these staff included in the count? It should be possible to give details on this point if required;

§ From the standpoint of the Paris Court of Appeal, the first three categories mentioned are made up of registry staff, and so the reference to “registrar”, appearing only in the second category, should be deleted.

24. Furthermore, the number of staff other than prosecutors attached to the public prosecution service (question 59), not supplied by France, could be supplied by the Paris Court of Appeal by making a specific calculation.

Methods of calculation: number of litigious civil cases/duration of proceedings

25. As things stand, the CEPEJ Scheme does not take into account the nature of proceedings, to which an overall total is applied whereas it would be necessary to lay down weighting criteria for types of proceedings. France is trying at present to establish measurable, sufficiently lasting, criteria of this kind but they are not yet being applied. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the statisticians wanted to follow the American system by calculating the cost per case, though unsuccessfully for the time being.

26. The idea of laying down precise criteria to measure the backlog of cases and the average age of a case is also mentioned.

EVALUATION MISSION No. 2 (SARAJEVO, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA)

Presentation

Dates:

26 and 27 March 2008

Organiser:

Participants in respect of the CEPEJ:

Mr Fausto DE SANTIS (Italy), Chair of the CEPEJ

Ms Beata Z. GRUSZCZYŃSKA (Poland), member of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL

Mr Adis HODZIC (Bosnia-Herzegovina), member of the CEPEJ and the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL and national correspondent

Mr Jean-Paul JEAN (France), Chair of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL

Ms Muriel DECOT (Council of Europe), Co-Secretary of the CEPEJ

Programme:

Wednesday 26 March 2008

9.30 am WELCOME by/

Mr Brako PERIC, President of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and

Ms Ljiljana FILIPOVIC, member of the CEPEJ in respect of Bosnia-Herzegovina

9.45 am Visit to the HJPC premises

10.15 am Break

10.30 am EXCHANGE OF VIEWS WITH

Mr Adis HODZIC, Head of the Budget and Statistics Department

12 noon Lunch

2 pm ENCOUNTERS AT SARAJEVO MUNICIPAL COURT

Mr Goran SALIHOVIC, President

Discussion with the team responsible for statistical data collection

4 pm End of day

Thursday 27 March 2008

9.30 am EXCHANGE OF VIEWS AT THE HJPC WITH

Mr Mirsad KAMBER, Leader of the “New Technologies” Project (ICT Project)

Mr Esmin BERHAMOVIC, Deputy Project Leader

Mr Sulejman VELIC, Deputy Head of the New Technologies and Data Collection Department

10.30 am Break

10.50 am EXCHANGE OF VIEWS WITH

Mr Larry TAMAN, Director of the Courts Administration Department

12 noon End of the meeting.

Visit report

1. General analysis of the organisation of collection and transmission to the Council of Europe Secretariat of the CEPEJ’s data concerning Bosnia-Herzegovina

27. Ever since the signing of the Dayton Agreements in 1995, Bosnia-Herzegovina has been a highly decentralised state in which most powers are apportioned between two major entities, namely the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which embraces ten cantons and a number of municipalities, and the Republika Srpska, which is divided up into regions and municipalities. Each entity has a President, ministers, a Parliament and a Supreme Court. Bosnia-Herzegovina also embraces a third entity with wide-ranging legislative and administrative powers, viz the Brcko district (created in 1999).

28. Most of the powers in the Republika Srpska are concentrated in Banja Luka. In the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, all powers which are not expressly assigned by the Constitution to the Federation are exercised by the cantons.

29. Bosnia-Herzegovina is highly representative of the difficulties facing decentralised states, because with slightly less than four million inhabitants, it has 14 local governments and the same number of Ministries of Justice. This also involves complex fragmentation of the budgetary system.

30. This budgetary complexity prevails, for example, in the judicial field, which has:

- a budget at the level of Bosnia-Herzegovina geared to financing its courts, its Public Prosecutor's Office and its Constitutional Court;

- a budget at the level of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina for its Supreme Court, its Constitutional Court and its Public Prosecutor's Office;

- 10 cantonal budgets for the courts of first and second instance of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the cantonal public prosecutor's offices;

- the Republika Srpska budget covering all its courts and public prosecutor's offices

- the Brcko District budget for its ordinary and appeal courts and its Public Prosecutor's Office.

31. Where the judicial system is concerned, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) of Bosnia-Herzegovina has a membership of some 90 persons responsible for helping prepare the judicial budgets, establishing efficient budgetary practices within the judicial authorities and ensuring long-term investments in justice, as well as organising decent working conditions for courts and prosecutors throughout the country. In addition to these wide-ranging budgetary responsibilities, the HJPC also has certain powers which are normally reserved for the Ministry of Justice and the Higher Council of the Judiciary (appointment and training of judges, evaluation and administration of justice, etc).

32. This means that, faced with the complex task of organising the judiciary in such a fragmented country, the HJPC is a regulating body which is both responsible for managing staff and operational resources and indispensable in terms of dealing with the local political authorities.

33. The HJPC is responsible for data collection in respect of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

34. The visit to the HJPC highlighted the great sophistication of the tools and methods of centralising statistical data and the expertise of the data managers, who have benefited from an impressive expansion in the information technology sector over the last few years.

35. The HJPC has introduced an efficient modern “case management system” (CMS) which, being completely computerised, can also provide large quantities of judicial data. The CMS keeps minor cases separate from the more important ones, comprises a computerised land register facility, and more generally enables most court cases to be recorded. The President of the Sarajevo Court explained how, for example, the referral of minor cases to mediation or simplified proceedings led to a new approach to managing the whole judicial system.

36. The CMS is in line with a wider modernisation process which is supported in budgetary and logistical terms by the EU and a number of co-operating donor states (including Canada, Australia, Sweden, etc), based on specific programmes and objectives relating to a number of reference courts and types of litigation. These programmes are evaluated and then upgraded. Approximately 1/3 of the justice budget in Bosnia-Herzegovina stems from international assistance programmes.

37. The reform is geared to modifying legal traditions that date back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and which have shown their limits: case backlogs, excessive numbers of judges and inefficient judicial professionals. Following the reform, for instance, only 60% of the judges from the “old system” were reappointed by the HJPC. Concurrently, 1 100 “new” judges and prosecutors were appointed in the space of three years, on the basis of an open competitive examination.

38. Starting off from a difficult situation, Bosnia-Herzegovina has managed to superimpose a new judicial system on the old one. It would have been interesting to visit a “grass-roots” court outside of any reference programme, in order to improve our understanding of realities on the ground.

2. Specific analysis of the replies

a. Numbers of cases and courts

39. There is no particular problem with data on new cases, which are all recorded and monitored. However, the same does not apply to stocks of case, notably those dating from before the reform: only 10% of such cases have apparently been recorded in the CMS.

40. It is also difficult to distinguish between “major cases” and “minor cases”, because the CMS was installed too recently to provide any relevant 2006 data for Bosnia-Herzegovina.

41. The data on mediation are very concise, because many types of mediation are conducted by private mediation associations which do not supply the HJPC with official data.

42. The peers were informed that the increase of just under 30% in the number of courts was due to the “minor cases” reform.

43. Discussions allowed peers to better distinguish and analyse non litigious civil cases and to understand the stake representing the setting and/or the use of registers (in civil matters, business, etc) on the number of cases. These registers are on a par with the setting of new technologies aiming to modernise the performance of the judicial services, what will allow them to become a very performing instrument.

b. Budget, salaries and staffing

44. No specific explanation was given on why the proportion of salaries within the judicial budget had decreased by 16% between 2006 and 2004, even though the number of professional judges had at the same time increased by 22% and court officials by 28%. It should also be ascertained whether the mass computerisation within the judicial system is the sole reason for the 64% increase in technical staff.

45. No data were forthcoming on disciplinary procedures relating to prosecutors and lawyers.

EVALUATION MISSION No. 3 (WARSAW, POLAND)

Presentation

Dates:

13 and 14 May 2008

Organiser:

Participants in respect of the CEPEJ:

Mr Fausto DE SANTIS (Italy), Chair of the CEPEJ

Mr Cezary DZIURKOWSKI (POLAND), national correspondent

Ms Elsa GARCIA-MALTRAS (Spain), member of the CEPEJ, the Bureau of the CEPEJ and the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL and national correspondent

Ms Beata Z. GRUSZCZYŃSKA (Poland), member of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL

Mr Adis HODZIC (Bosnia-Herzegovina), member of the CEPEJ and the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL and national correspondent

Mr Jean-Paul JEAN (France), Chair of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL

Ms Muriel DECOT (Council of Europe), Co-Secretary of the CEPEJ

Ms Marta ZIMOLAG (Poland), scientific expert with the CEPEJ

Programme:

Tuesday 13 May 2008

9.30 am VISIT TO THE SUPREME COURT

Meeting with Mr Tadeusz ERECINSKI, Vice-President of the Supreme Court and member of the CEPEJ

11.30 am VISIT TO THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE

Meeting with

12 noon LUNCH WITH Mr Lukasz Redziniak – Vice-Minister of Justice

2 pm EXCHANGES OF VIEWS WITH THE BUDGETARY AND FINANCIAL PLANNING DEPARTMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE

3 pm EXCHANGES OF VIEWS WITH THE JUDICIAL STATISTICS DIVISION OF THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE

4.30 pm END OF DAY

WEDNESDAY 14 MAY 2008

9.30 am VISIT TO THE WARSAW DISTRICT COURT

EXCHANGES OF VIEWS WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THE COURT AND JUDGES

11.30 am VISIT TO THE NEW TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT AND THE NATIONAL STATISTICAL CENTRE

12.30 pm END OF MEETING

Visit report

1. General analysis of the organisation of collection and transmission to the Council of Europe Secretariat of the CEPEJ’s data concerning Poland

46. Two Polish Legislative Decrees establish the national procedure for collecting judicial statistical data. All courts and public prosecutor's offices use standard software. The data is collected on an annual and six-monthly basis, in summary or comparative table form. The judicial data for any given year are available from the July of the following year. Analytical reports containing judicial data are available on the Ministry of Justice website and sent to the courts.

47. All Polish courts are equipped with computers, but many data are still collected manually, and also the format or model used for collecting statistics is not uniform. Prisons and police departments also have their own statistical systems. The public prosecutor’s departments’ computing system is currently being reformed. Ultimately, a broader reform should lead to standardised collection of judicial statistics, and perhaps also to a new specific statistics department in the Ministry of Justice. Another current difficulty concerns collecting and reporting on judicial data against the background of the many changes and reforms currently being conducted by the Ministry of Justice, particularly in the field of judicial organisation.

48. The higher courts now have staff with specific responsibility for statistics.

49. Broadly speaking, it is up to the President of the court to ensure the quality of the data transmitted. The use of computers to collect data is progressing, but the implementation of statistical data collection systems is badly co-ordinated. Nevertheless, a system for recording cases was introduced into the courts in 2006. The Ministry of Justice is planning a “minimum IT requirement” system, although it has not mentioned any requirements in terms of system standardisation. The overall facilities include an Intranet system for legal/judicial professionals, with a schedule of hearings and courtroom availability, as well as an Internet system for users of the judicial system, comprising useful general information on the Polish judicial system.

50. It emerged from the peers’ visit to Warsaw District Court and the interview with its President and a number of judges that the courts are currently in a transitional phase where computerisation is concerned; they are also facing organisational problems because of excessive turnover of non-civil service administrative staff.

51. The peers were given a presentation of the PRAETOR system which operates in Warsaw District Court, issuing completely computerised payment orders. This system also facilitates precise, permanent and instant monitoring of case-files thanks to a barcode system.

52. Like in Bosnia and Herzegovina, discussions allowed peers to better distinguish and analyse non litigious civil cases and to understand the stake representing the setting and/or the use of registers (in civil matters, business, etc) on the number of cases. These registers are on a par with the setting of new technologies aiming to modernise the performance of the judicial services, what will allow them to become a very performing instrument.

53. The Polish data collection system is not yet quite advanced enough to participate precisely and easily in the CEPEJ judicial data collection exercise. However, the authorities have expressed their willingness to take account of the data required by the CEPEJ in their current reform of the judicial statistics system. They already made similar efforts recently on their accession to the European Union.

2. Specific analysis of the replies

54. The person responsible for budgetary statistics was asked to explain the large increase in the budget between 2004 and 2006 (45.9%). Apart from the difficulties linked to the major hike in the Euro conversion rate of the Polish currency, the computerisation budget also increased by over 300%. Moreover, a special budgetary effort had been made to finance a series of particularly expensive criminal cases (costs appertaining to expert opinions, witnesses, etc, payable by the courts).

55. It should also be noted that in the Polish system the courts budget is separate from the judicial budget.

56. Many variations, even slight ones, have been noted in the data on case numbers. These variations stem from the fact that all the data are collected manually.

57. According to the Ministry of Justice, the increase of just under 30% in the total budget earmarked for judicial assistance can be explained by the large increase in lawyers’ salaries.

CONCLUSIONS

1. Evaluation of the Paris/Sarajevo/Warsaw meetings

58. These meetings facilitate direct encounters between the “peers” and the persons collecting the data. The national correspondent, who delegates the data-collecting tasks at the national level and is the CEPEJ’s usual interlocutor (notably through his/her presence at the annual meeting of national correspondents), cannot report all the difficulties encountered in data collection at the level of the courts and national administrations concerned. For example, it has emerged from talks with the persons directly responsible for data collection that they lack information on the aims and final addressee (the CEPEJ) of the data collection, and have never read any previous editions of the Evaluation Report of judicial systems in order to gain a general idea of the final result.

59. The visits provide the peers with an overview of the judicial organisation of the country visited, and the various encounters and exchanges of views inform them of specific national traits and legal traditions which must be known if the European judicial systems are to be evaluated properly.

60. The visits provide a better understanding of the importance in member states of data collection registers and the concurrent extent of the development of new technologies.

61. The visits also highlight the major role played by private institutions, which may be mandated to set up specific national bodies (eg the courts administration department in the Bosnia-Herzegovina HJPC) or simply to fund certain installations (particularly computer hardware).

62. The visits have shown that it would be illusory to consider 1½ days of meetings in a given state sufficient to ascertain the reliability of the national statistical system. The most that can be done is to check whether the key data have been provided (see document CEPEJ(2007)27, “Key Data for Justice in Europe”), whether the “CEPEJ guidelines on judicial statistics” (document CEPEJ(2008)11) have been correctly implemented and whether the ratios which the CEPEJ proposes to use are meaningful for the state in question.

63. Given that, in short, the visit should demonstrate whether the state visited is capable of producing reliable data usable by the CEPEJ, it would be interesting, in the context of future visits, to be able to return to states which had “poor marks” in some areas during previous exercises.

64. Visits cannot be organised to all CEPEJ member states as there are only enough budgetary and human resources to organise three visits per year. It should be stressed that the choice of states to visit is effected on the basis of a proposal from the state concerned.

65. It would also be feasible to organise a peers visit to a given state in which several geographically close states with comparable judicial organisations could also take part.

2. Good practice/Recommendations

66. Following the detailed analysis of the replies to the CEPEJ questionnaire conducted in each state visited in the presence of the persons responsible for national data collection, the peers drew up the following recommendations:

Role of national correspondents

67. Now that the CEPEJ questionnaire has been finalised, each state should, before sending its final replies, compare the replies required for the current exercise with the replies sent during the previous exercise(s).

It is important for the national correspondents to provide more detailed explanations on the concepts used in their replies. The Secretariat must request such additional information where it has been overlooked.

Questions on the Scheme

68. Questions which have been differently interpreted by different states should be reworded or else clarified in the explanatory report.

69. In the light of the diversity of the computer hardware noted during the three visits, it might be appropriate to add to the Grid a number of questions on the development of this computer equipment in order to obtain a ratio relating to the percentage of computing investment within the overall investments in the courts.

70. It might be useful to amend the question on budgets so that the reply could highlight the proportion of international assistance within the overall judicial budget (this is particularly relevant to the former Yugoslav countries).

Data collection system at the national level

71. The states must show transparency in respect of national data, concentrating on providing accurate data rather than analysing their future positioning as compared with the other member states.

72. The states should use standard data collection software, or at least types of software that are as homogeneous as possible, in order to avoid manual data collection, facilitate data traceability and correct any errors more easily. They should draw on the experience of the many states which have recently changed over from a manual data collection system to a computerised one.

73. A proper balance must be struck between the need for statistics and the courts’ workload in terms of collecting such data. To that end, it would be useful to improve exchanges and dialogue with the courts (in order to ascertain their difficulties and their views on the choice of software, etc). We might cite the example of the SAR in France, which verifies the courts’ data before they are sent off to the Ministry of Justice. Improved co-ordination among the Ministry, the courts and the software programmes would help achieve such balance.

74. Data collection should be considered as a task in itself, which cannot be given as a supplementary task to existing registrars. A sufficiently large and well-trained staff must be provided for this work.

75. A “two-tier” system of validation should be introduced to avoid manual transcription of all replies by the national correspondent.

76. Solutions should be sought to problematical situations with courts failing to supply the requisite data.

Exploitation of the data published in the CEPEJ report

77. Dynamic utilisation of the CEPEJ data should be encouraged in order to ensure that they are used as an internal management utility. In this connection, care must be taken to provide all judges and prosecutors, not just the court presidents, with access to the data.

78. It should be borne in mind that after their publication on the website the data also serve to exert political pressure. A warning should be included on the website to the effect that the data issued refer to the situation two years previously.

3. General conclusion

79. The peer review meetings are an effective tool to help the CEPEJ improve the quality of national data collection and to supporting it in its work of evaluating European judicial systems.

80. Evaluation meetings of the peers allow the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL to collect valuable information on “real life” allowing them to better apprehend the work of evaluation of national judicial systems and of synthesis translated into figures for improving the quality of the biannual report.

81. The meetings facilitate unique co-operation and co-ordination among all those involved in the exercise of evaluating judicial systems, namely members of the CEPEJ Secretariat, members of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL/Peers, national members of the CEPEJ, national correspondents, persons responsible for data collection and those responsible for the organisation of the national judicial system.

82. Despite the title initially selected by the CEPEJ (Peer review of judicial statistics), the meetings do not consist in actually reviewing the data collection system. It is more a case of exchanging experience and knowledge among specialists from the European judicial community. It has already been noted that there is no great difference between rich and poor countries where data collection system efficiency is concerned.

Proposed future visits (from 2009 onwards)

83. The peers express the wish to continue the review meetings in future. While recalling that these visits are organised on a voluntary basis at the states’ request, the peers suggest that in 2009, three new visits should be organised, as follows:

Place

1) a Scandinavian country

2) a southern European country

3) a central or eastern European country that has recently joined the EU.

The CEPEJ is awaiting applications.

Participants

For the CEPEJ, a group of “peers” and a member of the Secretariat. The peers include members of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL and the Chair of the CEPEJ.

For the host country, anyone who is liable to be involved in the CEPEJ’s exercise of evaluating judicial systems and who wishes to participate, and/or anyone with responsibilities in the national judicial organisation.

Budget

The Council of Europe will defray subsistence and travel expenses for the peers and the member of the CEPEJ Secretariat.

The host country must provide, free of charge, (a) meeting room(s) and organise transport between the meeting venues, if remote from each other.

There are no interpreting expenses, and the meeting is held in either French or English (to be decided by the host country). The host country may finance interpretation from English or French into the national language.

Content of discussions

As an introduction to the discussions, a list of specific questions will be drawn up on the basis of the document “CEPEJ guidelines on judicial statistics” (document CEPEJ(2008)11). These questions will be the same for each state visited.

Moreover, the peers will co-ordinate with the organisers in situ to select one or more subjects of specific interest to the country visited.

Furthermore, in order to grasp local realities better, visits should be organised to courts and departments responsible for data collection.

Finally, it should be agreed to receive a presentation of a specific service type, different in each visited country. This type of service shall use the new technologies and be particularly efficient and innovating (ex. Civil hearings with electronic preparation for trial, criminal hearings with summons of witnesses by sms, having recourse to videoconference, etc). This will allow the peers to take stock of essential innovations in the justice serving citizens.

Organisation of the work

One person per state must be declared responsible for preparing the agenda and organising the peers’ stay in the country; the CEPEJ Secretariat will assist him/her in this work.

84. The team of peers and the Secretariat would like to voice their sincere gratitude to the three host countries, France, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Poland, for the quality of their welcome and the motivation and strong commitment shown by all those encountered.

1 This process has been initiated by France ; the Working Group on evaluation of judicial systems (CEPEJ-GT-EVAL) is entrusted with its implementation and its follow-up.

2 The Sub-Directorate for Statistics of the DAGE, based in Nantes and Paris, defines the criteria for collecting statistics from the courts on their activities, and centralises and processes these statistics. The monthly inputs of statistically useful depersonalised data from the courts are updated quarterly and published periodically. The computerised data management tool is slightly more developed in the civil law than in the criminal law sphere, although in the latter the record of convictions provides useful information by recapitulating all convictions delivered. In criminal justice, manual counting still exists.



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