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Strasbourg, 17 March 2014

                    CEPEJ-GT-EVAL(2014)1

EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICENCY OF JUSTICE

(CEPEJ)

WORKING GROUP ON THE EVALUATION OF JUDICIAL SYSTEMS

(CEPEJ-GT-EVAL)

24th meeting
13-14 March 2014

MEETING REPORT

Document prepared by the Secretariat
Directorate General I – Human Rights and Rule of Law

INTRODUCTION

1. The Working Group on the Evaluation of Judicial Systems (CEPEJ-GT-EVAL) of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) held its 24th meeting in Strasbourg on 13 and 14 March 2014.

2. The Working Group appointed Jean-Paul JEAN (France) to chair the group. He would preside over its work for the next two years.

3. The agenda and the list of participants appear respectively in Appendices I and II to this report.

I. INFORMATION BY MEMBERS OF THE GT EVAL AND THE SECRETARIAT

4. The Chair of the Working Group welcomed Stéphanie MOUROU-VIKSTRÖM, senior judge at the Monaco Court of First Instance, as a new member of the working group and thanked Elsa GARCIA-MALTRAS, representative of the European Commission, for her presence.

5. The CEPEJ-GT-EVAL took note of the Working Group's increasing workload, both past and present, in particular through its co-operation activities, the peer evaluation process and the many participations in international seminars, and emphasised the need to ensure that the work was of a consistently high quality.

II. COOPERATION WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION VIA THE EU JUSTICE SCOREBOARD

6. The Secretariat reminded members that the CEPEJ's study entitled "The functioning of judicial systems in the EU Member States" had been prepared within an extremely tight timeframe of approximately two months, imposed by the European Commission, which had wished to publish the scoreboard at the end of March 2014. This scoreboard was largely based on the CEPEJ's study. Elsa GARCIA-MALTRAS, representing the European Commission, thanked the Secretariat and drew attention to the good cooperation between the two organisations.

7. The Working Group wished to convey special thanks to the national correspondents and the members of the CEPEJ representing EU member States, who had consented to answer the CEPEJ questionnaire within a much shorter deadline than initially planned. It hoped that this manner of working would remain exceptional and would be avoided for future issues of the scoreboard.

8. The Chair stressed the need to comply with the CEPEJ's methodology under all circumstances, regardless of the timeframe imposed by the European Commission or of requests that it might make in the course of the exercise. This ensured that the CEPEJ's study provided objective data and observations not including any rankings or specific recommendations in respect of given States, unlike the interpretations of the data or the conclusions that the European Commission might formulate in the scoreboard.

9. The European Commission's representative confirmed that the two documents served different purposes and indicated that the objective of the scoreboard was not to pass judgment on or classify the countries evaluated, nor to issue specific recommendations, but to serve more as an information tool for the different member States, on the basis of the chosen indicators. This tool would then be used in the European Commission's annual coordination cycle, since a country's economic development could be seen to be linked to its justice system (notably in civil and commercial matters). The scoreboard would also serve as a basis for discussions and exchanges between the Commission and the States concerned, with a view to the subsequent production of more detailed studies.

III. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 2012-2014 EVALUATION CYCLE

10. The CEPEJ-GT-EVAL held an exchange of views on the general structure of the next report. Mention was made of the possibility of including more tangible recommendations on reforms that could be implemented in the member States based on the CEPEJ's analysis tools which were now recognised and utilised (such as the clearance rate and disposition time) and on good practices noted within Europe (scoreboards, computerisation, quality of judges' training, appointment procedures, and so on).

11. The possibility of reinforcing the trends analysis, with potentially significant developments since 2004, was also raised. The aim would be to identify the repercussions of the economic crisis on justice systems, to highlight improvements within States' judicial systems and to assess the impact of IT on the quality of justice (from the standpoints of court users and of justice professionals).

12. The Working Group decided to preserve the report's general structure, but proposed a reinforcement of the general introduction and the addition of an index.

13. The Secretariat took stock of the state of validation of the questionnaires. It announced that Liechtenstein would not be participating in the exercise and that uncertainty subsisted concerning the participation of San Marino and the Republic of Moldova. Israel was also participating in the 2014 evaluation cycle as an observer, and the precise conditions for the presentation of its data in the future report had yet to be discussed with the CEPEJ.

14. Regarding this last point, in response to an invitation from the Supreme Court of Israel, the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL would be sending a delegation to visit Jerusalem and Haifa on 23 and 24 March so as to learn more about the country's judicial institutions and verify the quality of Israel's replies to the evaluation scheme.

15. The analysis of the replies to the questionnaire and the quality control of the data were in progress. The latter activity entailed posing additional questions to the national correspondents, who were currently replying to them. It was pointed out that the work already done on the European Commission scoreboard had made possible an early start on processing the data for the EU member States. The objective was to be able to stabilise the data base, so as to produce tables and charts that would be presented at the next meeting of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL. The Secretariat reminded participants that the recruitment of a statistician for the CEPEJ, scheduled in principle for the beginning of May 2014, was absolutely essential to be able to complete this work. The preparation of the report could then begin after the current meeting, with a view to its adoption by the CEPEJ at its plenary session in July.

16. At the request of the Chair of the Working Group, the Secretariat briefly commented on the quality of the data already collected. Particular mention was made of the low response rate to questions 101 and 102 (length of proceedings and percentage of decisions subject to appeal) and to the questions concerning the administrative courts. It was too early to evaluate the responses to the new questions requested by the European Union in connection with the scoreboard.

17. The CEPEJ-GT-EVAL raised the possibility, for the next cycle (2014-2016), of completely changing the report's structure so as to include two sections – the first containing all the tables and the second the written observations – or three sections devoted to the system, the players and the system's functioning in practice.

IV. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PEER EVALUATION COOPERATION PROCESS

18. Peer evaluation would take place in Tallinn, Estonia, on 14 and 15 April 2014. The peer evaluation in Switzerland was scheduled for 5 September 2014.

19. A peer evaluation visit to Latvia was included in the programme of activities for 2015. The Chair of the Working Group considered that a report grouping together Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia could be drawn up on completion of the process.

V. COOPERATION PROGRAMME (CoE/EU) IN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICY (MOROCCO, TUNISIA AND JORDAN)

20. In Morocco the three pilot courts were working actively with the CEPEJ. A user satisfaction survey would be implemented, and a new notification system permitting the identification of parties to proceedings was under study. The staff of the pilot courts had been given training in use of the CEPEJ's tools. These training sessions had been filmed, translated and recorded on a DVD lasting four hours, which would be distributed to all courts in Morocco, and possibly other Arabic-speaking countries.

21. In Tunisia the cooperation had recently given rise to the production of concrete project outlines for the pilot courts, which were now working on their implementation. The projects concerned, in particular, the introduction of scoreboards, reform of pre-trial procedure, and an intensification of training efforts targeting all court staff. A scoreboard template had been devised during the training workshops with a view to introducing the concept of court management and identifying judges and court officials capable of promoting such management methods. One aim of the next visit would be to convince lawyers to participate in the projects' implementation.

22. In Jordan the programme had begun only at the end of 2013 and the experts were currently drawing up the evaluation report on the judicial system.

23. The Chair of the Working Group, who was participating in the activities in Tunisia and Jordan, considered it necessary for these States to adapt the CEPEJ's traditional evaluation methodology, so as to make it more effective. It was indeed necessary to take account of the fact that these States applied religious law, of the lower degree of computerisation within their courts, of the Minister of Justice's broad powers in court management matters and so on.

VI. OTHER BUSINESS

Work of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL

24. At the CEPEJ's 22nd plenary meeting (5 and 6 December 2013), it had been decided to consult the members of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL on the quality indicators contained in the document prepared by the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL entitled "Measuring the quality of judicial services: CEPEJ practical guidance for quality measurement" (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL(2012)2Rev3). While pointing out that quality could not be measured simply by gathering a body of data and that it was difficult to agree on quality indicators, Adis HODZIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina) recommended the adoption of an approach based on four "pillars": incoming cases / workload / productivity / quality. It was decided that the Chair of the Working Group would propose a number of tangible solutions directly to the Chair of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL.

The "Crystal Scales of Justice" award

25. The Secretariat launched a call for candidates to sit on the adjudication panel for this award. The panel would meet in September following an initial examination of the application files, which would be distributed to its members in June. The award would be made at the end of October 2014.

New study by the CEPEJ

26. Ramin GURBANOV (Azerbaijan) presented his draft study concerning, firstly, the organisation of the CEPEJ, its functions and its development and, secondly, the CEPEJ's action and the impact of its work in the post-Soviet countries. This initiative was welcomed by all the members of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL.

Next meeting of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL

27. The next meeting of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL would be held in Strasbourg on 14 and 16 May 2014. On 15 May the meeting of the CEPEJ national correspondents would take place in the presence of the members of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL.

Appendix I

AGENDA

1. Adoption of the agenda

2. Information by the members of the GT and the Secretariat

3. Implementation of the 2012 – 2014 evaluation

      1. Replies to the scheme : deadlines and calendar, management of questions and corrections /

      2. State of affairs regarding data collection and preparation of the data base

      3. Appointment of a statistician 

      4. Preparation of the pre-draft of the report: structure, distribution of tasks for the drawing up of the report

      5. Participation of the observers of the CEPEJ in the evaluation

4. Preparation of the 8th meeting of the National correspondents

5. Implementation of the peer evaluation cooperation process

        § Peer’s evaluation in Jerusalem, Israel

          (23-24 March 2014)

        § Peer’s evaluation in Estonia

          (date to be confirmed)

        § Peer’s evaluation in Switzerland

          (date to be confirmed in September 2014)

6. Cooperation with the European Union

        § EU Justice Scoreboard

7. CEPEJ co-operation programs in the framework of the neighborhood policy (Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan)

8. Any other business

Appendix II

List of Participants

Experts

Ramin GURBANOV, Chief of reforms division, General department of organisation and supervision,
Co-ordinator of Judicial Modernisation Project, Ministry of Justice, BAKU, AZERBAIJAN

Adis HODZIC, Senior Advisor for Statistics, Secretariat High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Jean-Paul JEAN, Avocat général près la Cour de Cassation, Professeur associé à l’Université de Poitiers, Palais de Justice, FRANCE

Georg STAWA, Head of Department Pr 8, Projects, Strategy and Innovation, Federal Ministry of Justice, Austria (Vice-Chair of the CEPEJ / Vice-Président de la CEPEJ)

John STACEY, Government Advisor for the Efficiency and Quality of Justice, UNITED KINGDOM, (Chair of the CEPEJ / Président de la CEPEJ), apologised / excusé

Frans Van der DOELEN, Programme Manager of the Department of the Justice System, Ministry of Justice, THE NETHERLANDS

Stéphanie MOUROU VIKSTRÖM, Premier juge au Tribunal de première instance. Tribunal de première instance, Palais de Justice, MONACO

Scientific expert / expert scientifique

Munira DOSSAJI,  Principal Operational Research Analyst , Strategy and Innovation Team, Human Rights and International Directorate, UNITED KINGDOM

Beata Z. GRUSZCZYŃSKA, Institute of Justice, Professor at University of Warsaw and Institute of Justice, POLAND

Other experts / Autres experts

Simone KREβ, Richterin am Oberlandesgericht, Oberlandesgericht Köln, GERMANY

Observers / Observateurs

EUROPEAN UNION OF RECHTSPFLEGER / UNION EUROPÉENNE DES GREFFIERS DE JUSTICE ET RECHTSPFLEGER

Vivien WHYTE, Greffier au Tribunal de Grande Instance de Strasbourg, STRASBOURG, France

Jean-Jacques KUSTER, Président de l'Union européenne des Greffiers de justice (E.U.R.), STRASBOURG

INTERNATIONAL UNION OF BAILIFFS / UNION INTERNATIONALE DES HUISSIERS DE JUSTICE ET OFFICIERS JUDICIAIRES (UIHJ)

Mathieu CHARDON, Huissier de justice, Premier secrétaire de l’UIHJ, FRANCE, , apologised, excusé

EUROPEAN COMMISSION / COMMISSSION EUROPEENNE 

Elsa GARCIA-MALTRAS, European Commission, Directorate-General Justice BRUXELLES

EUROPEAN UNION / UNION EUROPEENNE

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT (LIBE COMMISSION) / PARLEMENT EUROPEEN (COMMISSION LIBE) 

COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION / CONSEIL DE L’UNION EUROPEENNE

Pawel NALEWAJKO, Fundamental Rights and Criminal Justice, DG D - Justice and Home Affairs, General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, BRUSSELS

WORLD BANK / BANQUE MONDIALE :

Klaus Decker, Senior Public Sector Specialist, Public Sector and Institutional Reform, Europe and Central Asia, World Bank, Washington, USA

ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT (OECD) / ORGANISATION POUR LA COOPERATION ET LE DEVELOPPEMENT ECONOMIQUES (OCDE)

Secretariat
DGI – Human Rights and Rule of Law
Division for the Independence and Efficiency of Justice/
DGI - Droits de l’Homme et Etat de droit

Division pour l’indépendance et l’efficacité de la justice

Fax: +33 (0)3 88 41 37 43

E-mail: cepej@coe.int

Hanne JUNCHER, Head of Justice and Legal Co-operation Department / Chef du Service de la coopération judiciaire et juridique

Stéphane LEYENBERGER, Secretary of the CEPEJ / Secrétaire de la CEPEJ

Muriel DECOT, Co-Secretary of the CEPEJ / Co-secrétaire de la CEPEJ

Christel SCHURRER, Administrator/Administrateur

Yannick MENECEUR, Special Advisor to the Secretariat of the CEPEJ, Special Counselor to the Secretariat of the CEPEJ / Conseiller spécial auprès du Secrétariat de la CEPEJ

Jean-Pierre GEILLER, Administration et finances

Annette SATTEL, Administration et réseaux

Evelyne SIMON, Assistant/Assistante

INTERPRETERS / INTERPRETES

Luke TILDEN

Lucie DE BURLET

Grégoire DEVICTOR



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