Ministers' Deputies
    CM Documents

    CM(2003)169 Addendum 2 19 December 2003
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    870 Meeting, 4 February 2004
    10 Legal questions


    10.1 European Commission for the efficiency of justice (CEPEJ) -

    Draft organisational charter of the European Day of Civil Justice (EDCJ)

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    On 5 June 2003, the Ministers' Deputies at their 842nd meeting, while agreeing to declare a European day of Civil Justice to be held during the last week of October of each year, instructed the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) to prepare a draft organisational Charter for the Day.

    The present draft Organisational Charter of the EDCJ has been adopted by consensus by the CEPEJ at its 2nd plenary meeting (3-5 December 2003).

    The CEPEJ invited the Committee of Ministers to approve this draft Charter.

    A. Presentation

    1. As it is urgent to act together to bring justice closer to citizens, the European Day of Civil Justice will be celebrated during the last week of October of each year in all European States which choose to do so. For practical reasons, States will be able to choose to organise events within this framework, either during the week or during the weekend.

    2. This project stems from the desire to facilitate access to justice for all, as expressed by the European Council at the Tampere meeting of 19991.

    3. It is also a follow-up to the Recommendations of the European Ministers of Justice who, at their 23rd Conference in London (June 2000), invited the Committee of Ministers in particular to promote citizens' awareness of their rights and to provide citizens with the information required for them to be able to exercise their rights confidently.

    4. The idea of a European Day of Civil Justice was first launched during the European Conference «Towards a better access to justice for the citizen» held in Brussels in October 2002. This initiative was positively welcomed by all the States represented at the 1st meeting of the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters2 and at the 1st meeting of the European Commission for the efficiency of justice (CEPEJ)3.

    5. On 5 June 2003, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe approved the holding of this Day4. Following the communication by Commissioner Vitorino, dated 16 May 2003, the European Commission endorsed this initiative to be carried out jointly with the Council of Europe.

    B. Why organise a European Day of Civil Justice?

    6. Civil law, including its cross-border aspects, is omnipresent in the life of all citizens - at work, or when they get married, have children, or buy goods and services.

    7. On the European Day of Civil Justice, events should be organised all over Europe in order to bring justice closer to citizens and enable “justice users” to understand better how justice works and therefore improve, if necessary, their access to justice.

    8. Indeed, it is generally recognised that European citizens are informed inadequately on their rights and even worse on how civil justice works. Moreover, civil law generally does not appear in the teaching programmes of schools.

    9. The European Day of Civil Justice must have a symbolic aspect, as a day on which we take the time to get acquainted with a little known system which is nevertheless very important in the daily life of each of us.

    10. For many decades the work carried out within the EU and the Council of Europe enabled the achievement of major projects to facilitate the life of European citizens. The EDCJ will also be the occasion to recall this progress, through concrete examples (Conventions and recommendations, directives, regulations, case-law in various fields), and to help citizens to understand the practical challenges of the European construction.

    11. Initiatives to underline the transborder aspects and character of civil justice in Europe are also encouraged.

    12. To promote mutual knowledge and understanding this Day will also be the occasion for citizens of the different European States to become acquainted with the operation of legal systems of other countries.

    C. Who is concerned with the European Day of Civil Justice?

    13. The European Day of Civil Justice is an event intended to give European citizens the chance to understand their rights more clearly (for example family law, property law, succession law, contract law, civil liability, etc…) and how their legal system really functions (for example access to justice, mediation, execution of judicial decisions, etc…). It aims to educate and inform the general public on their day-to-day rights, but could also be useful for legal professionals who could use this opportunity to meet the users of the justice system.

    D. What is the role of the States and/or interested national or international bodies?

    14. States and/or interested national or international bodies are free to participate or not in the European Day of Civil Justice. States and/or interested national or international bodies which choose to participate will define the initiatives they wish to take. This Day will be organised in a flexible and decentralised manner in order to take into account the wishes and the resources of each participant.

    15. Each State or body will have to finance the events organised within the framework of this Day.

    16. Each year, the Council of Europe and the European Commission could be directly associated with one or several other specific event(s).

    E. What is the role of the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the celebration of the European Day of Civil Justice?

    17. The Council of Europe and the European Commission will have the task of promoting initiatives and ensuring the coherence of the organised activities with the purposes of this Day.

    18. In 2003, for instance, the open day at the Supreme Court of Hungary has been organised on 18 October and has been directly supported by the Council of Europe and the European Commission.

    F. Suggested activities which could be organised by States and/or interested national or international bodies

    19. Amongst the many activities that could be organised within the framework of the European Day of Civil Justice, States and/or interested bodies could choose to organise events such as:

    - Open days at civil courts or other relevant bodies including guided tours (as well as the judicial world, this will enable discovery of the cultural and architectural heritage);
    - Mock-trials;
    - Meetings between legal professionals – judges, lawyers, bailiffs, notaries (free advice, visits to schools, to associations) and individuals;
    - Local conferences (in particular in order to explain the programmes concerning access to justice for those with limited means);
    - Radio or TV programmes, chat on internet with the public;
    - Production of specific information material;
    - Awareness initiatives for children and young people.

    20 Law faculties could be associated to the organisation of these events.

    G. Information on the activities organised within the framework of the European Day of Civil Justice

    21. The Portals and websites of the Council of Europe and the European Commission would include a heading on the European Day of Civil Justice which would contain a list of activities being carried out within the framework of this Day. A form to inform the Council of Europe and the European Commission and to be filled in by States or bodies participating in the Day appears in Appendix to this document. When necessary, this form duly completed should be sent to the Council of Europe or the European Commission before 15 September of each year.

    22. Furthermore, appropriate media coverage by States of the European Day of Civil Justice could be helpful for the activities organised in the States. Decentralised offices of the Council of Europe and the European Commission could, if necessary, constitute a useful bridge between both institutions and States concerning the circulation of the information.

    23. Ideally, the preparation of a short educational film for television would be very useful publicity.

    H. Follow-up to the European Day of Civil Justice

    24. 2003 marks the beginning of the organisation of the European Day of Civil Justice which is to be held each year. The 2003 European Day of Civil Justice was not necessarily celebrated in all the States which would otherwise be interested, due to lack of time necessary to participate in this first year. As from 2004, as proposed by the CEPEJ and the European Commission, States or interested bodies may organise EDCJ events by emphasising a specific theme (for example family issues, access to justice, etc…).

    25. In order to allow these States or bodies to be involved in this initiative under the best conditions possible, the Council of Europe and the European Commission propose to prepare and circulate a detailed evaluation report of the 2003 day, containing, in particular, examples of good practice in this field. A similar report will be prepared at the end of each year.

    Useful contacts :

    Council of Europe :

    Secretariat of the CEPEJ, Directorate General I – Legal Affairs
    For the attention of Ms Muriel DÉCOT, tel: +33 3 90 21 44 55, e-mail: muriel.decot@coe.int
    Secretariat: Ms Elisabeth HEURTEBISE, tel : +33 3 88 41 35 54, Fax: +33 3 88 41 37 45, e-mail: elisabeth.heurtebise@coe.int or Committee e-mail : cepej@coe.int
    Council of Europe, F - 67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France

    European Commission :

    For the attention of Mr Olivier TELL, tel: +32 2 29 52 921, e-mail : olivier.tell@cec.eu.int and Ms Geneviève EADE, tel : +32.2.2990439, e-mail : genevieve.eade@cec.eu.int
    European Commission, DG Justice Home Affairs, Judicial cooperation in civil matters Unit, LX 46/05-160, B-1049 Brussels.

    APPENDIX

    Form to inform the Council of Europe and the European Commission
    of the events to be organised
    within the framework of the European Day of Civil Justice

    Could you please send (by e-mail, fax or mail) this form duly completed to the Council of Europe or the European Commission before 15 September 2004.

    The information which appears below will also appear on the page « European Day of Civil justice » of the websites of the Council of Europe and the European Commission.

    Member State or national or international body :

    Activity(ies) envisaged :

    Date(s) :

    Aims :

    Publicity envisaged:

Note 1 European Council at Tampere, October 1999, point 29 of the President's conclusions
Note 2 European Commisison, Brussels, 4 December 2002
Note 3 Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 5-7 February 2003
Note 4 Decision of the Ministers Deputies (842th meeting - 5 June 2003)


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