Strasbourg, 20 June 2009

CEPEJ-GT-QUAL(2009)2

EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE

(CEPEJ)

WOKRING GROUP ON QUALITY OF JUSTICE

(CEPEJ-GT-QUAL)

5th meeting, 18 – 19 May 2009

MEETING REPORT

Report prepared by the Secretariat

Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs

    1. The Working Group on Quality of Justice (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL) of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) held its 5th meeting at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on 18 - 19hMay 2009, with Mr François PAYCHERE (Switzerland) in the chair.

    2. The agenda appears in Appendix I and the list of participants in Appendix II to this report.

1. Information from the Secretariat

    3. At the request of Portugal, the CEPEJ organised in February and March 2009 two working visits in Lisbon in order to assess the policy of the Ministry of Justice regarding:

    - court case flow management; the expert report has already been finalised to be discussed in the plenary meeting;

    - dematerialization and the use of ITC in courts.

    4. A CEPEJ expert team went to Armenia to assess the implementation of the reforms launched in 2008 on court organisation, according to the recommendations of the CEPEJ. The reform process had however been cancelled one month before the arrival of the delegation, but Armenia suggested to reschedule a new agenda of measures in the future.

    5. An expert mission went to Sofia to support Bulgaria in setting up an evaluation system of judges. The experts noticed in particular strong divergences concerning the evaluation and nomination of judges between the High Council of Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice. A report was transmitted to the Bulgarian authorities. The state of affairs would be addressed during the plenary meeting.

    6. François PAYCHERE also informed the GT-QUAL that a training day was organised in February by the Court of Appeal of Chambéry (France) during which he introduced the work of the CEPEJ, and particularly of GT-QUAL.

    7. The Group was informed that its Chairman was a member of the jury of the “Crystal Scales of Justice”, dedicated for the first time to initiatives in the criminal justice field. This Prize would be awarded on 5 June during the Justice Forum organised by the European Commission.

2. Study on quality systems in Europe : state of affairs

    8. Mr Philip LANGBROEK, scientific expert (the Netherlands), underlined the state of affairs of the study that he was entrusted to coordinate. He shared the difficulties he had encountered in gathering the necessary information to progress in his study. He insisted on the need to find a way to encourage the scientific experts to go beyond the descriptions of the systems as they appear on the paper.

    9. A first analysis enhanced that:

    - states have difficulties in specifying quality and efficiency,

    - courts are rarely autonomous administrative entities, therefore it is necessary to first define the relations between courts and central administration in order to determine who is the first responsible for quality; most of the states – with some exceptions such as Finland or Germany – set the quality of justice at the central administration’s level, but the experts have noticed that this stage is not necessarily the most appropriate one to appreciate and make recommendations to improve the quality of justice.

    10. Thus Mr LANGBROEK suggested to focus his study on the connections between central administration and local courts. The research group would then analyse the reports realised by central administrations on positive experiences made in local courts regarding the quality of justice. The study would therefore concentrate on this feedback from central administrations in a practical and dynamic perspective.

    11. Some of the reports handed out by scientific experts were incomplete and revealed an inequality in their content. Hence, it would be necessary to contact again the relevant scientific experts and ask them for a complement of information, specifying that the survey must be filled in a practical more than in an academic way.

    12. The members of GT-QUAL were invited to submit their comments on the already existing reports to the Secretariat by 20 June. The Secretariat would then transfer them to Mr LANGBROEK.

    13. It was decided that the report would be finalised before the end of September, so that it can be discussed at the CEPEJ's plenary meeting in December.

3. Measurement of court users’ satisfaction

    14. Ms Hélène JORRY, scientific expert (France), explained how advanced was the work jointly carried out with Mr Jean-Paul JEAN for the elaboration of a handbook on user satisfaction survey. She introduced a draft model of a quantitative satisfaction survey. This model presented advantages: it was exclusively aimed at effective court users, involved few financial means, was quickly operational and easily adaptable. It was foreseen to extend in the future this kind of surveys to lawyers, magistrates and court clerks.

    15. The members of GT-QUAL made several suggestions for improving the ongoing work :

    - they insisted on the need to formulate clearly the questions of the draft survey presented in the handbook, so that no other interpretation can be implied from the document by the (non lawyer) users, in order not to distort the results of the survey. It was suggested to add comments in the margin which could provide further explanations about the words used;

    - the confidentiality of the answers, which raises specific issue regarding the spread of the satisfaction surveys, shall be handled with due care;

    - the use of IT to transmit the survey would allow, thanks to a regular update of the database, a more efficient use of the information and, as a consequence, a quicker reactivity; however, this type of submission would exclude some categories of users (like elderly persons);

    - administrative courts should addressed within the framework of the handbook;

    - they noted that this kind of survey raised problems as regards the follow up; the public is quickly weary of such issues, therefore it is important to demonstrate the need of participating regularly in such surveys by keeping it informed on the concrete actions undertaken following the surveys; this would involve the creation of a steering group.

    16. The draft handbook should be ready by the end of November, in order to transmit it to the plenary meeting of the CEPEJ which would be held in December. The draft should have previously been checked by the members of GT-QUAL (Serge PETIT and Klaus DECKER suggested to provide a more detailed analysis of the draft).

    17. It was suggested to trial the reliability of the handbook and the draft model survey with the CEPEJ’s Network of Pilot Courts and on lawyer offices.

4. Contractualisation of judicial process

    18. Mr Julien LHUILLIER, scientific expert (France), presented the preliminary questionnaire on the contractualisation of the relations between judges and parties that he had already spread with the support of the Secretariat. He explained that he had divided the questionnaire into several parts, each part addressed to professionals of the judicial system who was and expert in the particular field. This method intended to improve the efficiency and accuracy, taking into account the total length of the survey (86 questions).

    19. The members of GT-QUAL agreed that this survey was of very high quality. However, it was enhanced that the concept of contractualisation of justice was not easy to anchor in the states as it might contradict some fundamental principles, such as the monopoly of the legislator on judicial process.

    20. Mr LHUILLIER expected to collect the necessary amount and quality of answers by the end of July 2009. If needed, the member states would be contacted again.

5. Preliminary discussion on the organisation of the courts

    21. Starting from the report evaluating the efficiency of judicial systems, the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL suggested to develop within the CEPEJ a work on court organisation, which was a topical issue in numerous member states.

    22. Court organisation presented several aspects (mostly cumulative): a geographical one (re-organisation of the judicial map), a technological one (dematerialization of quasi-judicial acts, development of IT) and a managerial one (particularly a new balance in the workload of judges, the creation of bigger courts gathering several specialised chambers, a single desk at the entrance of courts).

    23. The members of GT-QUAL insisted on the fact that these elements should be considered commonly rather than separately. They shared the point of view of the GT-EVAL on the need to deepen this overall issue.

    24. This work should not lead the CEPEJ to recommend an optimum size for the courts, but should much more focus on fundamental principles and procedures which are necessary to reform court organisation. The study on the reorganisation of other public services (for example in the healthcare field) could be useful in this context.

    25. The group considered it necessary to determine the fundamental values of justice that cannot be challenged when it comes to introduce elements of public management in court organisation. Mr Serge PETIT, Klaus DECKER, Jean-Marie SISCOT and Julien LHUILLIER suggested to lead a preliminary discussion on this subject and to exchange their points of views through emails.

    26. It was suggested that the Secretariat streamlines the terms of reference of the GT-QUAL accordingly in 2010, while ensuring the proper link with the other relevant working groups of the CEPEJ (particularly the GT-EVAL).

Annexe I

Agenda / Ordre du jour

1. Adoption of the agenda / Adoption de l’ordre du jour

2. Information by the Secretariat / Information du Secrétariat

3. Study on quality systems in Europe : state of affairs / Etude sur les systèmes qualité en Europe : état d’avancement

4. Measurement of court users’ satisfaction / Mesure de la satisfaction des usagers

5. Contractualisation of judicial process between judges and the parties / Contractualisation des relations entre les juges et les parties

6. Preliminary discussion on court organisation (including the promotion of « single desk » in courts and the measurement of quality in court) / Discussion préliminaire sur l’organisation des tribunaux (y compris la promotion de « guichets uniques » dans les tribunaux et la mesure de la qualité dans les tribunaux)

Annexe II

List of participants / Liste des participants

EXPERTS

François PAYCHÈRE, Juge à la Cour de justice, GENEVE, SUISSE (Chair of the GT-QUAL / Président du GT-QUAL)

Tatiana KOBOZEVA, Deputy Head of Division of Judicial Statistics of the Judicial Department at the Supreme Court, RUSSIAN FEDERATION (Apologised / excusée)

Serge PETIT, Avocat Général, Cour de Cassation, PARIS, FRANCE

Johannes RIEDEL, Chair of the Court of Appeal (Oberlandesgericht Köln), KÖLN, GERMANY (Apologised / excusé)

John STACEY, Head of Civil & Family Rules and Jurisdiction Branch, Her Majesty's Courts Service, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM (Vice-Chair of the CEPEJ / Vice-président de la CEPEJ)

Kari TURTIAINEN, District Court Judge, OULU, FINLAND

SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS / EXPERTS SCIENTIFIQUES

Hélène JORRY, Doctorante à l’Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, MONTROUGE, France

Philip LANGBROEK, Utrecht University, Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance Department State- and Administrative law, UTRECHT, THE NETHERLANDS

Julien LHUILLIER, Chercheur, Institut de Criminologie et de Droit Pénal, Ecole des sciences criminelles, Université de Lausanne ICDP, SUISSE

OBSERVERS / OBSERVATEURS

EUROPEAN COMMISSION / COMMISSION EUROPEENNE

Kasia LACH, Legal Officer, Directorate General for Justice, Freedom and Security, Unit E.1 – General Justice Issues and E-justice, BRUXELLES, BELGIUM

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

EUROPEAN NETWORK OF COUNCILS FOR THE JUDICIARY (ENCJ) / RESEAU EUROPEEN DES CONSEILS DE LA JUSTICE (EUR)

Jean-Marie SISCOT, Administrator of the Belgian High Council for Justice, Member of the working group on Quality Management, BELGIUM

EUROPEAN UNION OF RECHTSPFLEGER AND COURT CLERKS / UNION EUROPEENNE DES GREFFIERS DE JUSTICE (EUR)

Jean-Jacques KUSTER, Greffier en chef, tribunal d’instance, STRASBOURG, FRANCE (Apologised / Excusé)

WORLD BANK / BANQUE MONDIALE

Klaus DECKER, Counsel, Justice Reform Practice Group, Legal Vice Presidency, WASHINGTON, USA

SECRETARIAT

Directorate Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs (DG-HL) -
Justice Division /

Direction générale des droits de l’Homme et des affaires juridiques (DG-HL) -
Division de la Justice

Fax: +33 3 88 41 37 43 - E-mail: cepej@coe.int

Stéphane LEYENBERGER, Secretary of the CEPEJ / Secrétaire de la CEPEJ, Tel : +33 3 88 41 34 12, e-mail: stephane.leyenberger@coe.int

Muriel DECOT, Co-Secretary of the CEPEJ / Co-Secrétaire de la CEPEJ, Tel : +33 3 90 21 44 55, e-mail : muriel.decot@coe.int

Pim ALBERS, Special Advisor to the Secretariat of the CEPEJ / Conseiller spécial auprès du Secrétariat de la CEPEJ, Tel : +33 3 88 41 47 74, e-mail : pim.albers@coe.int

Jean-Pierre GEILLER, Documentation, Tel : +33 3 88 41 22 27, e-mail : jean-pierre.geiller@coe.int

Elisabeth HEURTEBISE, Assistant / Assistante, Tel : +33 3 88 41 35 54, Fax : +33 3 88 41 37 45, e-mail: elisabeth.heurtebise@coe.int

Interpreters / Interprètes
Chloé CHENETIER
Barbara GRUT
Philippe QUAINE



 Top