Strasbourg, 2 March 2012
EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE
Steering Group of the SATURN Centre for judicial time management (CEPEJ-SATURN)
Strasbourg, 23 and 24 February 2012
Report prepared by the Secretariat
Directorate General I – Human Rights and Rule of Law
1. The Steering Group of the SATURN Centre for the study and analysis of judicial time management of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) held its 11th meeting in Strasbourg on 23 and 24 February 2012. The members of the Steering Group re-elected Jacques BÜHLER as President for 2012 and 2013.
2. The agenda and list of participants are appended to this report (Appendices I and II respectively).
1. INFORMATION BY THE PRESIDENT, THE SECRETARIAT AND EXPERT MEMBERS OF THE STEERING GROUP
3. The Secretariat explained that this year, along with the 2012 edition of the report on the evaluation of European judicial systems covering all 47 Council of Europe member states, an additional report will be prepared by the experts upon the request of the European Commission. This separate report will use multidisciplinary approach to assess the impact of the judicial systems of the EU member states on the economic development.
4. Giacomo OBERTO (Italy) informed the participants about an ongoing project of the World Bank in Italy, the objective of which is to assess the conditions for doing business at the local level, including the functioning of justice and its influence on the economic activity. He pointed out that, based on the experience of this project, delays for execution proceedings should not be taken into account as they are only relevant for ten percent of cases that end in a court decision.
5. The Secretariat informed the participants about a dimension added recently to the work of the CEPEJ related to the neighbourhood policy of the Council of Europe. This work is conducted together with countries outside the boundaries of the member states, such as the Mediterranean region and Central Asia. The immediate plans foresee cooperation with Tunisia, Morocco and possibly Jordan under the aegis of the South Facility joint programme between the Council of Europe and the European Union. It will allow these countries to benefit from the know-how and experience of the CEPEJ. Possible activities include evaluation and “diagnostic” of the justice systems in cooperation with the national authorities as the first step. Palestinian territories may also be covered in the near future.
2. QUANTITATIVE APPROACH – STRATEGIC GOAL 1: DATA COLLECTION
a. Collection of data on procedural times from the CEPEJ pilot courts and representative courts in the member States regarding civil, criminal and administrative proceedings
▪ Operational definitions
6. The Group discussed the draft operational definitions of the categories of civil, criminal and administrative cases with respect to which data is to be collected1.
7. With regard to civil cases: 13 pilot courts were contacted, of which 9 submitted such data; none of them contested the proposed categories, therefore these can be retained for further use. Nevertheless it should be taken into account that the understanding of the different categories may vary slightly from country to country; explanation by a legal expert may be required in order for the statisticians to understand what exactly data is needed.
8. The Group also studied the possibility for civil cases to be grouped using the procedural-law rather than material-law approach (e.g. contentious / non-contentious cases). Statistics concerning contentious and non-contentious civil cases are presented in the CEPEJ Report “European Judicial Systems: Efficiency and Quality of Justice” (questions 90-91 of the Evaluation Scheme). A further distinction can be made according to the number of parties etc. However, the participants of the meeting expressed concern as to the comparability of such data.
9. The Group agreed that the definitions of criminal cases must be formulated in accordance with the European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics2 as well as with the relevant international treaties. It was also proposed to include a category of drug-related cases as particularly relevant in the context of European criminal justice systems. Francesco DEPASQUALE shall provide definitions of rape and drug offences.
10. The Group decided to propose to the Working Group on the evaluation of judicial systems (GT-EVAL):
▪ with respect to civil cases: to keep litigious divorce as a case category, possibly enlarging it under the title "marriage crisis", and to add intellectual property and/or bankruptcy to the evaluation questionnaire (for cycles after 2012);
▪ with respect to criminal cases: to collect data on cases related to rape and drug offences.
▪ with respect to administrative cases: no categories to propose to GT-EVAL.
11. Jacques BÜHLER shall draft a letter to be addressed to the president of GT-EVAL regarding the case categories proposed for evaluation exercises.
b. Setting-up of a tool for collecting extra data on civil, criminal and administrative justice on caseload and procedural times from the pilot courts and other courts in the member States
▪ Analysis of the Questionnaire 2009/2010 based on EUGMONT
12. The Group entrusted the Secretariat with preparing and addressing to the pilot courts a special questionnaire containing tables 1, 2 and 3 of the SATURN Guidelines for Judicial Time Management3. Table 3 is to be simplified, reducing it to 4 periods (“less than 1 year”, “1 to 2 years”, “2 to 3 years” and “over 3 years”). After Table 3 a column is to be added entitled “average duration of proceedings”:
▪ with respect to civil cases: all case categories to be retained;
▪ with respect to criminal cases: corruption and child sexual exploitation cases to be added to the other criminal case categories (robbery, intentional homicide, rape and drug offences);
▪ with respect to administrative cases: to keep collecting data on all the administrative cases (= question 90/91 of the CEPEJ evaluation questionnaire) and additionally on taxation.
13. Data to be requested for 2011, with 30 June 2012 as deadline for submitting it to the Secretariat.
14. To request from the highest national administrative courts information on the typical cases they adjudicate, and then to decide which categories of cases can be retained (there are too few administrative courts among the pilot courts to provide a comprehensive picture).
15. Jacques BÜHLER presented briefly the “Updated report on the analysis of length of court proceedings in the member States of the Council of Europe based on the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights” (by F. CALVEZ and N. RÉGIS)4, its English translation not yet being available.
16. The Group requested the Secretariat to convey its thanks to Nicolas RÉGIS who was in charge of preparing the update.
17. The Group decided to make the document translated and publish it as a Study co-signed by Ms CALVEZ and Mr REGIS in replacement of the previous CALVEZ report. A specific version should be sent at the members of the Group highlighting the amendments.
18. Paola TONARELLI of the ECtHR Registry informed the participants of the “pilot proceedings” currently under way in respect of the complaints related to the excessive length of judicial proceedings in Greece and Turkey (no judgments having been adopted yet). She pointed out that, however informative, statistical data do not always point at those countries that face more serious problems that others.
19. In order to keep abreast of the development of the case-law of the ECtHR and to be able to modify the SATURN Guidelines accordingly, the Group asked the Secretariat to cooperate closely with the Court Registry so as to identify evolutions in the case law as regards the length of proceedings.
20. At this stage the Group stressed that there was no need to amend the SATURN Guidelines according to the Court case law. However, Jon JOHNSEN (Norway) proposed to draft specific proposals for the Guidelines and the Checklist, to be analysed at the next SATURN meeting (26-28 September 2012).
21. Jacques BÜHLER shall prepare a list of ECtHR judgments in which the CEPEJ is mentioned for the next SATURN meeting.
3. QUALITATIVE APPROACH OF THE MANAGEMENT OF THE TIMEFRAMES
▪ Draft explanatory notes to the SATURN Guidelines
22. Marco FABRI, scientific expert, presented the current draft of “SATURN Guidelines for Judicial Time Management – Comments and Implementation Examples”5 which, once finalised, is expected to become a helpful and practical reference manual for courts wishing to implement the Guidelines. In particular, it can be used in the framework of the CEPEJ Court Coaching Programme.
23. The Group noted the importance of choosing the right format for this document and making it handy and easy to use. It was agreed that guidelines in this document should be enumerated in accordance with document CEPEJ-SATURN(2011)9.
24. It was decided that, along with the specific examples, the document should also include commentary to the legal text. Jon JOHNSEN agreed to prepare examples of such commentary.
25. The Group agreed:
▪ to ask Marco FABRI and Nadia CARBONI to finalise the draft explanatory notes by the next meeting of the Group in September;
▪ to discuss one or two guidelines along with the examples and commentary in detail during the next meeting and then formulate terms of reference for the scientific expert that would be working on the document;
▪ to propose to the next meeting of the pilot courts (27 September 2012) to start collecting good practices to be included in the document. A specific proposal would be elaborated by Jacques BÜHLER and discussed by the Group the day before the meeting of the pilot courts.
▪ Draft terms of reference for a scientific expert for the definition of standards for judicial timeframes
26. The Group took note of the draft prepared by Jacques BÜHLER. It was further on agreed to replace the term “standards” with respect to the duration of proceedings in a case by “targets”. It was proposed that the targets would not be defined as durations but as percentages of case categories to be solved within one year, less than two years, between two and three years and more than three years.
27. The Group agreed that, due to unprecedented nature of the research, the work on establishing minimum and optimum duration of judicial proceedings must be approached very carefully, relying wherever possible on the case-law of the ECtHR.
28. Marco FABRI accepted the invitation of the Group to take up this work, together with a second expert – specialist in comparative criminal law (to be appointed). The Secretariat was entrusted to prepare terms of reference and a contract accordingly.
▪ Court Management in Italy – From the Strasbourg Programme to Current Law Reform under the Framework of European Principles
29. Alessandro BOLLETTINARI, expert, informed the participants of the legislative reform currently under way in Italy aimed at institutionalising the principles and techniques of court management, and of the steps taken in order to implement this reform. The main objective of the reform is to improve the efficiency of justice by reducing case backlog and expediting the proceedings at the national level.
▪ Implementation of the court coaching programme for the proper use of the SATURN tools
30. The Group took note of the recent bilateral activities conducted within the framework of the CEPEJ Court Coaching Programme, namely visits by the members of the Group, other members of the CEPEJ and the Secretariat to Romania, Albania and Georgia.
31. The Secretariat informed the participants that, wherever possible, it makes use of the resources of ongoing country-specific projects and programmes in the field of justice for the dissemination of CEPEJ methodologies and tools.
32. Further work of the SATURN Centre will be organised according to the decisions mentioned above and following the Strategic Plan6 – which is due to be published on the internet.
33. Data collected within the framework of the exercise for evaluating the functioning of European judicial system (2012 Edition) as regards the length of proceedings would be further analysed by the SATURN Centre for the three levels of instance.
34. The Group agreed to Jon JOHNSEN’s proposal to participate and represent the CEPEJ at the 34th Annual Conference of the European Group for Public Administration (EGPA) in Bergen (Norway) on 5-8 September 2012.
35. The Group entrusted the Secretariat to consider possibilities for participation in the 5th Conference of the International Association for Court Administration (IACA) in the Hague (the Netherlands) on 12-15 June 2012.
36. It was agreed that, within the CEPEJ Court Coaching Programme Giacomo OBERTO would contact the High Council for the Judiciary of Italy in order to present and promote the SATURN tools and methodologies for reducing judicial time.
AGENDA / ORDRE DU JOUR
1. Opening of the meeting / Ouverture de la réunion
2. Information by the President and members of the Group and the Secretariat / Information du Président et membres du Groupe et du Secrétariat
3. Quantitative approach - Strategic goal 1: data collection / Approche quantitative - Objectif stratégique 1: collecte de données
a. Collection of data on procedural times from the CEPEJ pilot courts and representative courts in the member States regarding civil, criminal and administrative proceedings / Collecte de données relatives aux délais de procédure auprès des tribunaux référents de la CEPEJ et de tribunaux représentatifs au sein des États membres en matière de procédures civiles, pénales et administratives.
▪ Operational definitions / Définitions opérationnelles
Rapporteurs: Giacomo Oberto, Francesco Depasquale, Jacques Bühler
b. Setting-up of a tool for collecting extra data on civil, criminal and administrative justice on caseload and procedural times from the pilot courts and other courts in the member States / Mise en place d'un mécanisme pour collecter des données supplémentaires en matière civile, pénale et administrative relatives au volume des affaires et aux délais de procédure auprès des tribunaux référents et d'autres tribunaux au sein des Etats membres
▪ Analysis of the Questionnaire 2009/2010 based on EUGMONT / Examen du questionnaire 2009/2010 basé sur EUGMONT
c. Update on ECtHR case law to the reasonable time criterion / Mise à jour de la jurisprudence de la CrEDH quant au critère de délai raisonnable
d. Analysis of the ECtHR statistics / Analyse des statistiques de la CrEDH
4. Qualitative approach of the management of the timeframes / Approche qualitative de la gestion des délais de procédure
a. Strategic goal 4 – Adoption of standards relating to judicial timeframes / Objectif stratégique 4 – Adoption de normes en matière de délais judiciaires
▪ Draft explanatory notes to the SATURN Guidelines / Projet de notes explicatives aux Lignes directrices SATURN
Rapporteur: Marco FABRI
▪ Draft terms of reference for a scientific expert for the definition of standards for judicial timeframes / Projet de mandat pour un expert scientifique en vue de la définition de normes en matière de délais judiciaires
Rapporteur: Jacques BÜHLER
▪ Court Management in Italy - From the Strasbourg Programme to Current Law Reform under the Framework of European Principles / Gestion des tribunaux en Italie – du Programme “Strasbourg” à la réforme de droit en cours dans le cadre des Principes européens
Rapporteur: Alessandro BOLLETTINARI
b. Strategic goal 5 – Dissemination of the standards and information relating to judicial timeframes / Objectif stratégique 5 - Diffusion des normes et des informations en matière de délais judiciaires
c. Strategic goal 6 – Active promotion of the use of judicial time management tools / Objectif stratégique 6 - Promotion active de l’utilisation des outils de gestion des délais judiciaires
▪ Implementation of the court coaching programme for the proper use of the SATURN tools / Mise en oeuvre de la formation des tribunaux pour la bonne utilisation des outils SATURN
Rapporteur: Jacques BÜHLER
5. Follow up to the work / Suivi des travaux
List of Participants / Liste des participants
Irakli ADEISHVILI, Chairman, Chamber of Civil Cases, Tbilisi City Court, GEORGIA
Jacques BÜHLER, Secrétaire Général suppléant, Tribunal fédéral suisse, SUISSE (Chair of the Group / Président du Groupe)
Francesco DEPASQUALE, Ministry representative, Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs, MALTA
Jon T. JOHNSEN, Professor in Law, Faculty of law, University of Oslo, NORWAY
John STACEY, International Consultant for Court Administration, UNITED KINGDOM (Chair of the CEPEJ / Président de la CEPEJ)
Jana WURSTOVA, Lawyer, Adviser, Czech Bar Association, CZECH REPUBLIC
SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS / EXPERTS SCIENTIFIQUES
Marco FABRI, Director, Research Institute on Judicial Systems, National Research Council (IRSIG-CNR), ITALY
Nadia CARBONI, Researcher, Research Institute on Judicial Systems, National Research Council (IRSIG-CNR), ITALY
OBSERVERS / OBSERVATEURS
EUROPEAN UNION OF RECHTSPFLEGER AND COURT CLERKS/UNION EUROPEENNE DES GREFFIERS DE JUSTICE (EUR)
Vivien WHYTE, Greffier au Tribunal de Grande Instance de Strasbourg, STRASBOURG, FRANCE
EUROPEAN COMMISSION / COMMISSION EUROPEENNE : Apologised / Excusée
COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION / CONSEIL DE L’UNION EUROPÉENNE
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT (LIBE COMMISSION) / PARLEMENT EUROPEEN (COMMISSION LIBE)
WORLD BANK / BANQUE MONDIALE : Apologised / Excusée
COUNCIL OF EUROPE / CONSEIL DE L’EUROPE
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS (ECHR) / COUR EUROPÉENNE DES DROITS DE L’HOMME (CEDH)
Paola TONARELLI-LACORE, Registry of the European Court of Human Rights/Greffe de la Cour européenne des droits de l’Homme
OTHER PARTICIPANTS / AUTRES PARTICIPANTS
Alessandro BOLLETTINARI, Etudiant, Faculté de droit, Université de Turin, ITALIE
Rosalinde COX, Performance Manager for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service, UNITED KINGDOM
Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law (DGI)
Division for the Independence and Efficiency of Justice
Fax: +33 3 88 41 37 43