Strasbourg, 11 December 2008
EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE
ON JUDICIAL STATISTICS
adopted by the CEPEJ at its 12th plenary meeting
(Strasbourg, 10 – 11 December 2008)
Article 2 of its statutes1 instructs the CEPEJ to “examine the results achieved by the different systems (…) by using (…) common statistical criteria and means of evaluation”. Article 3 states that the CEPEJ is to fulfil its tasks “by (…) defining measures and means of evaluation” and “drawing up (…) best practice surveys, guidelines, action plans, opinions and general comments”.
The action plan which the Heads of State and Government adopted at their 3rd summit (Warsaw, May 2005) included a decision “to develop the evaluation (…) functions [of the CEPEJ]”.
The CEPEJ report “European judicial systems – Edition 2008” (published in October 2008) was well received by public decision makers and the judicial community in Europe.
The CEPEJ thought it helpful to provide guidelines for the bodies which collect and process statistics in the justice field. The guidelines draw on the experience acquired in the pilot evaluation of judicial systems (2002-2004) and the two first regular evaluation cycles (2004-2006 and 2006 - 2008). In particular they take into account observations and proposals from national correspondents and the comments made by the CEPEJ.
These guidelines must be seen and used as an element of the corpus of tools designed by the CEPEJ to strengthen the efficiency and quality of justice, and in particular the Time Management Checklist2, the Checklist for promoting the quality of justice and the courts3 and the SATURN Guidelines on judicial time management4, as well as the peer evaluation process and judicial statistics that has been implemented since 2008.
The aims of the guidelines are to:
§ promote quality, transparency, accountability and accessibility of judicial statistics collected and processed in the member states, as a tool for public policy;
§ facilitate comparison of data on European countries by ensuring adequate compatibility of key judicial indicators despite the substantial differences between countries (as regards judicial organisation, the economic situation, demography, etc.) so as to understand how the judicial systems function, identify common indicators for measuring activity and evaluating operation of the judicial system, bring out the major tendencies, identify difficulties and provide guidance for the public policies of justice in order to improve their efficiency and quality for the benefit of the European citizens;
§ contribute to ensure the transparency and accountability of the CEPEJ process for evaluating European judicial systems and to improve this process.
I. General principles
1. The main aim of judicial statistics is to facilitate the efficient functioning of a judicial system and contribute to the steering of public policies of justice. Therefore judicial statistics should enable policy makers and judicial practitioners to get relevant information on court performance and quality of the judicial system, namely the workload of courts and judges, the necessary duration for handling this workload, the quality of courts' outputs and the amount of human and financial resources to be allocated to the system to resolve the incoming workload.
2. All data regarding performance and quality of the judicial system should be collected and presented through a compatible and consistent methodology applicable to all the branches and bodies of the judiciary so as to be able to evaluate the efficiency of the means allocated to them.
3. Each member state should have specific statistical institutional arrangement(s) in order to collect, coordinate, aggregate and process the information from various statistic providers needed for evaluating the functioning and measuring the activity of courts, prosecution services, administrative services within the judicial system and any other bodies with a role in judicial activity.
Procedures and mechanisms
4. Procedures and timeframes should be agreed with the stakeholders for the establishment of a system for regular collection and dissemination of statistic information. A clear allocation of responsibilities and mechanism(s) should be established in advance for addressing general questions, managing the maintenance of the system and solving conflicts regarding the operation of the system as well as the credibility and interpretation of the data collected.
5. As far as possible, statistical data that has been collected in the past should also be used in future systems to develop time series.
6. When the competent authority distributes the resources between judicial bodies using benchmarks through statistics, a mechanism of monitoring of the proper application of the rules for collecting, processing and analysing data should be established to guarantee a fair and transparent system.
7. Requests for statistics should not unduly overload court staff but correspond to the needs of the smooth management of the overall judicial system.
8. Developing IT use in the statistic system should enable to shorten the life cycle for submitting and processing judicial data.
Transparency and accountability of data
9. Professionalism and ethics of the persons entrusted with data processing and their independence vis-à-vis other political or administrative bodies or organs as well as private bodies guarantee the accountability of the data. The states should ensure that these persons have the appropriate skills and should guarantee the adequate level of independence so that an accountable and high quality scientific work can be delivered.
10. All data collection and analysis should be undertaken in a transparent way. The main results should not only be delivered to all direct stakeholders of justice administration but also to all persons involved in the functioning of the judicial system. The opinions of researchers could be taken into account to improve this mechanism.
11. Data and their analysis should not be personalised. They should be presented so as to be easily comprehensible in order to contribute to the transparency and acceptance of the whole system by all the persons concerned, and guarantee the fairness in the information presented. Complex formula should be avoided as far as possible.
12. Public availability of data collected at national level should be ensured, namely through publication on Internet.
13. Appropriate steps should be taken by the bodies responsible for collecting and processing judicial statistics in the member states to ensure dialogue with the organisations representing the legal and judicial professions, researchers and, as appropriate, other organisations with an interest in the matter so as to guarantee a broad consensus on the information collected and communicated.
Evaluation of European judicial systems
14. Data collection should be organised taking into account as far as possible the CEPEJ Evaluation Scheme so that answers can be provided recurrently to questions put as part of the process of evaluating European judicial systems. Attention should also be paid to the guidance in the Explanatory Note so as to ensure homogeneity of the concepts considered and measurement methods used.
15. In particular each member state should make the necessary arrangements that would allow to provide annual input to the corpus of key data of justice in Europe as defined by the CEPEJ (see Appendix II).
II. Specific principles
16. So that state efforts to develop the judicial system can be evaluated, statistical collection and processing should also be organised in such a way as to separate out the budgets for:
§ legal aid
§ computerisation (equipment, investment and maintenance),
§ justice expenses,
§ investment in new buildings,
§ building maintenance, operation and costs,
§ training and education for judges as well as for prosecutors.
17. Judicial data should be collected and processed, as far as possible, in a manner that allows the budgets for operating the courts to be distinguished from those for operating the prosecution service. If the judicial system is organised in such a way that no such differentiation is possible, figures for the number of judges and the number of prosecutors could allow weighting of the statistical results or a system enabling to estimate the budget dedicated to the prosecution system should be set up.
18. The statistical information should cover both the budgets as approved and the budgets as executed.
19. Numbers for judicial personnel (judges, prosecutors, court clerks, etc.) should as far as possible be given in full-time equivalent.
Court activity, procedural timeframes and evaluation
20. The statistic system should enable both at the national level and at the court level to assess the overall length of proceedings according to a sufficiently elaborated typology of cases.
21. A large part of the cases before the European Court of Human Rights concerns the violation of the "reasonable time” of a proceeding provided for by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Given that it is difficult to offer effective solutions for optimum and foreseeable timeframes unless we first have detailed knowledge of the situation, special attention should be paid to information collection on length of proceedings.
22. In particular, member states should be able to provide information at least on the length of proceeding for the four following cases: litigious divorces, employment dismissals, robberies, intentional homicides (as defined in the Appendix I).
23. To facilitate applying common solutions at Council of Europe level, a standard methodology should be adopted at the member state level for calculating timeframe of court case management. Member states should be in a position to calculate at least the three following ratios: clearance rate, disposition time and efficiency rate, as defined in Appendix I5.
Monitoring of breaches of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights
24. Detailed up-to-date statistics in the member states on national cases before the European Court of Human Rights concerning the various rights protected by Article 6 are a key tool for evaluating and managing European Court of Human Rights judgments, in particular for the purpose of remedying situations which breach the convention. The relevant bodies of member states are accordingly invited to maintain statistics in tabular form on national cases concerning Article 6 ECHR so that Court judgments are appropriately executed and further breaches prevented.
25. Tables should, in particular, record the number of cases per year:
§ notified by the Court
§ declared inadmissible by the Court
§ ending in a friendly settlement
§ ending in a violation finding
§ ending in a non-violation finding
and relating at least to:
§ breach of the reasonable time requirement
§ non-execution of Court decisions.
26. As far as possible the tables could likewise cover other rights protected by Article 6 ECHR.
EUROPEAN UNIFORM GUIDELINES
FOR MONITORING OF JUDICIAL TIMEFRAMES
1. General data on courts and court proceedings
System of monitoring should have available and public information on the general design of the judicial system, with special attention to the information relevant for the time management of the proceedings. The information on the general level should include accurate information on:
- the number and types of courts and their jurisdiction;
- the number and types of proceedings in the courts;
- the proceedings designated as priority (urgent) cases;
The data on judicial system should be regularly updated, and be available at least on the annual level (start/end of the calendar year). The following data on the number of proceedings in the courts should be available:
- total number of proceedings pending at the beginning of the monitored period (e.g. calendar year);
- new proceedings (proceedings initiated within the monitored period, e.g. in the calendar year);
- resolved cases (proceedings finalized within the monitored period either through a decision on the merit, a withdrawal of the case, a friendly settlement, etc…);
- total number of proceedings pending at the end of the monitored period.
The data on the finalized proceedings can be split according to the way how the proceedings ended. At least, the cases that ended by a decision on the merits should be distinguishable from the cases that ended otherwise (withdrawal of the claim, settlement, and rejection on formal grounds).
Courts of the State of Alpina
15. As regards a decision on debts collection, can you estimate the average timeframe to notify the decision to the parties which live in the city where the court seats: