LIST OF ITEMS DISCUSSED AND DECISIONS
The European Committee on legal co-operation (CDCJ) met in
Strasbourg from 30 May to 1 June 2001. The agenda appears in
ITEMS SUBMITTED TO THE COMMITTEE OF
MINISTERS FOR DECISION
The CDCJ invited the Committee of Ministers:
to adopt the text of the draft Recommendation on
alternatives to litigation between administrative authorities and
private parties and authorise the publication of its draft
explanatory memorandum (see item 5 of the agenda and Addendum I to
to adopt the text of the draft Recommendation on the
protection of personal data collected and processed for insurance
purposes and authorise the publication of its draft explanatory
memorandum (see item 7 of the agenda and Addendum II to CM(2001)121
(to be published later).
ITEMS SUBMITTED TO THE COMMITTEE OF
MINISTERS FOR INFORMATION
The CDCJ forwarded its submissions to the Evaluation
Group to examine possible means of guaranteeing the effectiveness of
the European Court of Human Rights (see item 9.a of the agenda and
The CDCJ invited the Committee of Ministers to note
the priority nature of the activities of the CDCJ and the need to
ensure the availability of sufficient resources to enable it to
carry out as rapidly as possible its programme of activities (see
item 10 of the agenda).
The CDCJ considered:
a. the work carried out
under its authority and took a number of decisions concerning
certain activities (see items 6.a and 8 of the agenda);
b. the preparation of
the 24th Conference of European Ministers of Justice
(Moscow, 4 and 5 October 2001) on the implementation of judicial
decisions in conformity with European standards (see item 8.a of the
The detailed report of the meeting (document
CDCJ(2001)20) may be obtained from the Directorate General of Legal
c. the draft
Recommendation on common rules against corruption in the funding of
political parties and electoral campaigns and requested its Bureau
to prepare an opinion on the draft Recommendation for the attention
of the Multidisciplinary Group on Corruption (GMC) (see item 9.a of
The CDCJ took note of:
concerning other legal work carried out within the Council of Europe
(see item 14.a of the agenda);
concerning the work being carried out by the European Union and the
International Commission on civil status (CIEC) on matters of
interest to the CDCJ (see item 14.b of the agenda).
The CDCJ decided to hold its next meeting during the
week beginning 3 December 2001 (see items 17 and 18 of the
Finally the CDCJ invited the Committee of Ministers to
take note of this report as a whole.
Opening of the meeting
Adoption of the agenda
Statement by the Secretariat
Decisions of the Committee of Ministers concerning the CDCJ
Approval of the draft Recommendation on alternatives to
litigation between administrative authorities and private parties
and its draft explanatory memorandum (cf. Addendum I to CM(2001)121)
State of work of committees of the CDCJ and work of
Convention Committees of direct interest to the CDCJ
Approval of the draft Recommendation on the protection of
personal data collected and processed for insurance purposes and its
draft explanatory memorandum (cf. Addendum II to CM(2001)121, to be
Conferences and Colloquies in the legal field
Proposals for activities for 2002 and 2003
Classification of Council of Europe documents
Convention or Recommendation for consideration by the CDCJ at
its Autumn meeting in 2002
Legal work carried out outside the CDCJ
Tasks to be given to the Bureau of the CDCJ
Adoption of the report of the CDCJ
Agenda of the 76th meeting of the CDCJ
Calendar of future meetings
OF THE CDCJ
THE ATTENTION OF THE EVALUATION GROUP
The CDCJ met on 30 May - 1 June 2001 and considered, among
other things, the request by the Chair of the Evaluation Group for
comments on means of guaranteeing the continued effectiveness of the
Court. The CDCJ
welcomed this opportunity and was grateful for the extension of the
deadline which enabled this important question to be considered at
the plenary meeting.
Preliminary submissions were forwarded by the Bureau of the
CDCJ in April 2001. The
CDCJ endorsed those submissions but thought it might assist if these
were elaborated somewhat. Further
time for reflection has also allowed additional suggestions to be
The CDCJ agreed fully with the premises set out in the letter
from the Chair of the Evaluation Group that action to increase
productivity and reduce the backlog of cases must not reduce the
rights guaranteed by the Convention, must enable the Court to
dispose of cases within a reasonable time, and must maintain the
quality and integrity of the Court's case-law.
The CDCJ noted that some possible solutions would require
amendment to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and
would in all probability take some time to agree.
Other procedural innovations, on the other hand, could be
introduced relatively speedily.
The emphasis ought, therefore, to be on those measures which
could be put in place quickly, although reforms to the Convention
should not be discounted.
Equally, as the guardian of European human rights it is
essential that the Court itself is seen to respect the basic
principles of the Convention and the standards adopted by the
Council of Europe. Notable among these are the requirement provided
for by Article 6, paragraph 1, of the ECHR, of a fair trial within a
reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal. Also
significant is Recommendation No. R (94)12 on the independence,
efficiency and role of judges. As to the latter, the Evaluation
Group might take the opportunity to remind Member States of the
importance of their responsibilities in this respect.
Finally, the CDCJ recognises that, in the framework of the
discussions on the future of the European Court of Human Rights,
“there are apparently two contradictory objectives relating to the
Convention's control system – which must be reconciled: ie the
need for the Court to concentrate primarily on cases raising new
and/or serious issues while on the other maintaining the right of
individuals to seek redress before the Court, the latter being the
distinctive and unique achievement of the Convention system” (see
CDDH-GDR(2001)5). While the CDCJ is aware of these approaches, it is
not in a position today to take a stand on these - eminently
political - questions.
The CDCJ considered that there were three areas for action:
reduction in the number of applications, the filter stage, and
procedure before the Court.
Reduction in the number of applications
One way of improving the efficiency of the Court is to reduce
the number of cases that come before it by improving compliance by
states with the European Convention on Human Rights. This is
important for the respect of the principle of subsidiarity, which is
at the basis of the control machinery established by the Convention.
The CDCJ and other committees within the Council of Europe dealing
with legal co-operation and human rights are all active in this
implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human
Rights is also essential in order to prevent repeated applications
concerning the same types of problems.
Improved efficiency of justice and domestic human rights
protection is an aim which all Council of Europe member states share
and the CDCJ underlined the value of this work.
The filter stage
The CDCJ noted that a very high percentage of applications
submitted to the Court were declared inadmissible.
A very considerable amount of time is spent by Registry staff
in dealing with such cases before they are submitted to a Committee
of three judges which may decide to reject them unanimously.
The CDCJ understands that many applicants do not have the
benefit of legal advice and therefore do not understand how to make
their applications. The
CDCJ understands, however, that it is considered necessary to reduce
to a minimum the provision of legal advice offered by the Registry
to potential applicants because of the need for Registry lawyers to
deal with the cases expeditiously.
The CDCJ considered that an important contribution to the
efficient throughput of cases could be made by helping ensure that
applications are in good order, and by drawing applicants'
attention to irreparable defects, such as applications being out of
time or failing to raise points under the Convention.
To that end applicants ought to be able to obtain basic
technical information in their own language.
Ideally this should be available in the applicant's own
Various other procedural or administrative innovations might
assist. The CDCJ
particularly noted the need for incentives to encourage the parties
to reach friendly settlements in particular for “clone cases”
before a decision is taken on the admissibility (for example,
payments into court, refusal of which would carry the risk of losing
costs incurred after that point).
These could be introduced as part of the practice and
procedure of the Court, without any need for amendments to the
The CDCJ also noted the value of effective case management.
The CDCJ welcomed the Evaluation Group's intention to
consult experts with experience of management of large judicial
In addition to identifying more quickly cases which are
likely to be found inadmissible, part of the function of case
management would be to identify cases which could benefit from other
possible procedural innovations (see paragraph 17 below).
A feature of case management, particularly in complex cases,
might also be directions hearings during which the main issues in a
case could be identified. Such
hearings should make the best possible use of available technology
including video conference facilities.
The CDCJ considers that adequate and up to date Information
Technology systems are an essential tool for a modern court; these
can include sophisticated case tracking systems.
The Evaluation Group may wish to investigate whether this
aspect of the Court's present infrastructure is adequate.
Electronic methods of transmitting applications, pleadings,
notes and documents could be made available, and some documents
might be translated electronically. However, computerised
translation is still developing.
Whilst it could be very useful for the purposes of
understanding the “gist” of a simple document, it is not yet
available for all European languages and is not yet suitable for
The CDCJ is aware of the fact that the bottleneck is located
in the pre-trial stage, i.e. before that cases are brought before
the three judges. However, the CDCJ did not favour the introduction
of a non-judicial “filter” for rejecting inadmissible cases.
Access to elected judges is an essential feature of the
Convention system. Moreover,
the CDCJ understands that the procedure in the Committee of three
judges which sits to consider declaring cases inadmissible works
efficiently, and there would appear to be little advantage in
changing it by, for example, reducing the number of judges.
Procedure before the Court
The CDCJ noted that only a small proportion of applications
is declared admissible, so in numerical terms innovations to the
procedure are of lesser importance than improvements at the filter
various procedural changes could deliver benefits.
Among those possible changes are grouping together cases
which raise similar points, use of fast-track procedures in simple
cases, for example length of proceedings cases, and the introduction
of an expedited procedure for urgent cases.
It might be useful to consider the possibility of making
better use of judges' time.
The Court could consider preparing shorter judgments in
“clone cases”, and using model judgments in certain types of
cases. The latter might
include simple cases. The
Court's preparation might be assisted by requiring lawyers
representing the parties to prepare short summaries of the documents
The CDCJ understands that the procedure for assessing damages
can be cumbersome and slow. Although
the final decision as to amount of damages must remain one for the
Court, it may be possible for the assessment to be carried out by a
member of the Secretariat or Registry who would advise the Court.
The CDCJ stands ready to provide any further assistance if
the Evaluation Group would find it useful.
The CDCJ nominated Mr E. DESCH (Germany, Chair of the
Committee of Experts on Efficiency of Justice) as the point of
contact with, as his substitute, Mr E. KILBY (United
Kingdom, Vice-Chair of the CDCJ), or alternatively Mr M. HAŤAPKA
(Slovak Republic, Chair of the CDCJ).