Strasbourg, 20 September 2012

CEPEJ-GT-QUAL(2012)4

EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE

(CEPEJ)

WORKING GROUP ON QUALITY OF JUSTICE

(CEPEJ-GT-QUAL)

11th meeting, 24-25 May 2012

MEETING REPORT

Report prepared by the Secretariat

Directorate General I – Human Rights and Rule of Law


 

I.          INTRODUCTION

1.     The Working Group on the quality of justice (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL) of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) held its 11th meeting at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, on 24 and 25 May 2012. Following the opening of the meeting and the adoption of its agenda, the Working Group proceeded to electing unanimously François PAYCHERE as its Chair for the period of 2012-2013.

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

II.         INFORMATION BY THE CHAIR, THE EXPERTS AND THE SECRETARIAT

3.     At the beginning of the meeting the Secretariat introduced Artashes MELIKYAN, an Administrator who had recently joined the Secretariat.

4.     The Secretariat briefed the members of the Working Group on the outcome of the 5th Meeting of the National Correspondents of the Working Group on the Evaluation of Judicial Systems (CEPEJ-GT-EVAL) on 9 May in Strasbourg. The meeting dealt with various issues related to the current cycle of evaluation of European judicial systems, including preparation of the first draft of the "European judicial systems – Edition 2012 (2010 data): Efficiency and quality of justice". The meeting was very fruitful and work-intensive, and allowed advancing the report due to be presented to the public in September 2012, on the occasion of the 31st Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Justice (19-21 September 2012, Vienna, Austria).

5.     The Chair and the Secretariat informed jointly of the meeting in March with Tunisian authorities that took place within the framework of the Council of Europe Neighbourhood Policy, including an assistance programme developed jointly with the European Union for Morocco and Tunisia (it is planned that Jordan will also be concerned by cooperation programmes). They indicated that the Moroccan and Tunisian authorities regard their cooperation with the CEPEJ as a matter of priority, but that this work is currently at its preparatory stage, with more specific action aimed at helping the countries implement the Council of Europe recommendations to be planned and undertaken later on. At present the necessary facilities for working with Morocco and Tunisia are being created (such as local Council of Europe offices).

6.     The Secretariat suggested inviting the Moroccan and Tunisian judicial authorities to complete a simplified version of the CEPEJ evaluation questionnaire in order to take stock of the current situation and use the information thus obtained as a basis for planning specific action. It further suggested using the “train the trainers” approach in order to multiply the effect of the assistance to be provided.

7.     The Secretariat further informed the Working Group that, by way of long-standing cooperation with the Ecole nationale de la Magistrature (France), several CEPEJ experts and a member of the Secretariat participated in and contributed to an in-service training session for French judges and prosecutors (2-6 April 2012 in Paris).

8.     The President of the CEPEJ, John STACEY, informed of the 21st Congress of the International Union of Judicial Officers (UIHJ) in Cape Town (South Africa) on 1-4 May 2012, where he represented the Commission. He mentioned that the “Guidelines for a better implementation of the existing Council of Europe’s recommendation on enforcement” (CEPEJ(2009)11REV2) developed by the CEPEJ are widely recognised by the enforcement professionals as a “template for excellency for the enforcement industry”.

9.     The Secretariat informed the Working Group of the coaching session at the Regional Court of Freiburg (Germany) conducted by Jacques BÜHLER, member of the SATURN Centre for Judicial Time Management (CEPEJ-SATURN) on 20 April 2012. This encounter has revealed a problem of the loss of intellectual knowledge by this and possibly other courts in Germany that is due to the high rotation of German judges at the beginning of their career, and that has negative repercussions on the length of proceedings in cases of complicated nature (e.g. cases concerning medical liability, construction faults). The participants agreed that this problem is potentially relevant for a number of European countries, and that it would be interesting for the CEPEJ to take it up. The Commission could look into possible solutions such as establishing or reinforcing specialised jurisdictions, waiving the rule of territorial jurisdiction or modifying the rules for assigning cases to judges.

10.  Finally, the Secretariat informed that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has now obtained observer status with the CEPEJ, and intends to use the CEPEJ evaluation methodology in its work. This may include financing the collection and processing of data in its member countries that are not member states of the Council of Europe, thus allowing an even broader comparison of data across countries. This will also allow avoiding duplication of work for national correspondents.

III.        COURT COACHING ON SATISFACTION SURVEYS

11.  Following the introduction of the “Handbook for conducting satisfaction surveys aimed at court users in Council of Europe's member states” (CEPEJ(2010)1) and the programme of assistance to courts wishing to implement it, a coaching session was conducted on 8-9 December 2011 by Giacomo OBERTO in the court of Vrancea (Romania) that was preparing to organise such a survey. A similar coaching session was also conducted by Giacomo OBERTO in the court of Clermont-Ferrand (France) at the request of its President, on 5 April 2012.

12.  François PAYCHERE informed the other members of the Working Group of the Roundtable meeting between CEPEJ experts and representatives of the Georgian judiciary in Tbilisi (10 February 2012) where he participated together with Fabio BARTOLOMEO. The meeting was dedicated to presenting the CEPEJ methodology for conducting court satisfaction surveys and assisting the Georgian side in implementing it in several courts. The survey itself took place after the experts’ visit and within the framework of a Council of Europe project for enhancing the capacity of the judicial system in Georgia. In the opinion of the experts, this survey represents a good example of how a practical tool developed by the CEPEJ is used by the member states.

13.  The experts noted, however, that the questionnaires designed for the use in Georgia contained neither questions regarding corruption in the judiciary nor questions regarding the duration of proceedings. In their view such questions would be important for obtaining a full picture of the current situation as regards the level of user satisfaction in the justice sector of the country concerned.

14.  According to the information available to the Secretariat, a similar initiative aimed at measuring the court user satisfaction levels is currently under way in Slovenia, carried out on the basis of the CEPEJ Handbook by a special study group set up by the Slovenian Judicial Council with the participation of judges, court staff and academia. However, the relevant Slovenian authorities have not put forward any request for assistance by the CEPEJ at this stage.

15.  The participants of the meeting noted that in this area, as is the case in certain other areas as well, the demand of the CEPEJ expertise is greater than its capacity to meet it. The Group invited the experts to volunteer more actively for such activities as far as possible, in order to ensure that the tools and methodologies elaborated by the CEPEJ can be accompanied by practical assistance to individual courts.

IV.       PREPARATION OF GUIDELINES ON THE ORGANISATION OF JUDICIAL MAPS

16.  The Working Group took note of a detailed presentation by a group of young researchers of the Sciences Po Consulting Strasbourg on the main findings of the work that they are carrying out at the request of the Secretariat (following a relevant decision made by the Working Group at its previous, 10th meeting in October 2011). The presentation was based on the preliminary report (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL(2012)3) submitted to the participants of the meeting. It was followed by an exchange of views between the researchers and the Working Group.

17.  The Working Group decided that the data from the current CEPEJ evaluation exercise should be made available to the researchers to allow a broader comparison of the state of judicial map reforms in European countries.

18.  Once finalised, the report will serve as a basis for the guidelines to be elaborated by the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL on the issue of judicial maps. In this connection Klaus DECKER asked the experts to ensure that all background material used by them is also stored and made available to the Working Group.

19.  Fabio BARTOLOMEO made a presentation on the ongoing reform of the judicial map in Italy. He explained the problems currently faced by Italy and its particular needs (e.g. to keep judicial presence in the regions with strong influence of criminal groups, even if it is associated with high costs). He also demonstrated the link between the size of judicial offices and their productivity (medium-sized offices being the most productive). He further indicated that the travelling time and distance the users have to cover in order to reach an office appears to be helpful criteria for deciding whether to close, maintain or establish such an office. Fabio BARTOLOMEO pointed out that although the reform is expected to bring savings in the long run, it may increase the judicial costs in the short term. He further said that the general perception of the reform by the Italian judges was positive, but it was not always the case with local authorities of the towns where offices had to be closed.

20.  The Working Group members also gave additional instructions to the research team, asking it to compare the reforms of the judicial and administrative maps in France and the map of the country’s fiscal system (juridictions financières – Cour des comptes). The researchers were also asked to look into the reasons for choosing different approaches in France and in Italy (amending the relevant legislation in France against conducting the reform within the existing legislative framework – in Italy).

21.  The Working Group requested that the final version of the report be ready for the autumn session of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL (18-19 October 2012). Fabio BARTOLOMEO also suggested that the country information and country-relevant conclusions of the report should be verified by the representatives of the countries before publication.

V.         INDICATORS FOR MEASURING THE QUALITY OF JUSTICE

22.  Klaus DECKER outlined the document "Measuring and improving the quality of judicial services: Working document on CEPEJ guidelines for quality measurement" (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL(2012)2) prepared as an aid to discussion. It is intended as a practical guidance for the development or improvement of approaches to measuring the performance of a justice system or its part in terms of quality. He mentioned that the document contains lessons learned, and that the indicators suggested in it should not be seen as a blueprint but rather taken as suggestions. The two main tools, according to the findings of the document, are user satisfaction surveys and case-file management analysis.

23.  The participants of the meeting then discussed the checklist of indicators of the quality of justice, and agreed that at present it is too broad. The level of the informatisation of courts was considered an important element for the quality of justice, along with the ratio of judicial decisions challenged and those subsequently overturned on appeal. The experts also agreed that different level of detail can be aimed at depending on the resources available to those measuring the quality of justice in the countries in practical terms.

24.  The experts also agreed that a number of indicators currently included in the list can be considered redundant[1]. It was generally agreed that a limited list of criteria is needed so as to facilitate the implementation, allowing the users to start on a small scale and then move on to the level requiring more detailed studies.

25.  The Working Group decided that it was not imperative to commission the translation of this working document into French (which is thus only available in English). The Chair asked John STACEY to consider and prioritise criteria on the basis of the document, and Klaus DECKER to finalise his paper by 31 July so that the Group could continue working with it at its next meeting.

VI.       THE ROLE OF JUDICIAL EXPERTS IN THE QUALITY OF JUSTICE

26.  When discussing this point of the agenda, the members of the Working Group agreed that the roles of experts in the common law and continental law systems were too different to reconcile, which could thus be an obstacle when trying to work out common approaches and recommendations.

27.  The Secretariat confirmed that there are sufficient resources for commissioning a study to an external expert (or several). Klaus DECKER indicated that such an expert was known to him, who had had similar assignments with the World Bank.

28.  The Working Group outlined the main problems with regard to the use of experts in judicial proceedings, such as the insufficient number of such experts, the high costs associated with their participation and the long waiting times. The tendency to overuse such experts in some cases was also noted. It would therefore be necessary to:

§  Collect and analyse the relevant information about the situation in the member states, including best practices, and

§  Try and find ways to solve the above-mentioned problems, in particular by proposing guidelines.

29.  John STACEY indicated that the UK had specific examples of best practices (the rules of civil procedure were modified in the country following a study); however, these examples were only relevant for systems based on common law. He nevertheless said he would make this information available to the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL.

30.  Serge PETIT also indicated that information about studies on the role of judicial experts was available at the Website of the French Court of Cassation as well as from other sources.

31.  The Chair then asked the participants to put forward their proposals or suggestions for approaching this work before 31 July.

VII.      ORGANISATION AND ACCESSIBILITY OF COURT PREMISES

32.  The Secretariat informed the participants that according to its findings this issue occupied an important place on the member states’ agendas. Producing a collection of guidelines by the CEPEJ on the matter would be helpful and appreciated. As a first step it would be necessary to know what the member states consider important and was is being done concretely to ensure accessibility of court premises for all. This could be done by involving the pilot courts.

33.  The members of the Working Group listed several examples of the frameworks created for ensuring access to court premises in their countries, such as the technical standards in Croatia (where the implementation of these is hampered by insufficient funding) and the UK Disability and Discrimination Act (that provides for moving a case to another court if the court that would normally have jurisdiction over it cannot otherwise ensure accessibility for a party).

34.  The Working Group agreed that a special workshop on this topic should be held during a meeting of the representatives of the Pilot Courts as appropriate. However, the experts also felt the need to draw clear boundaries of this topic that otherwise risks becoming too broad. It should be delimited from the issue of access to justice in general in the first place.

35.  The experts agreed to start working on this issue by first looking at the relevant regulations currently in force in the member states, and asked the Secretariat to prepare some “food for thought” for its next meeting.


Appendix I

AGENDA

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

2.            Election of the Chairperson / Election du/de la Président(e)

3.            Information by the Chairman and the Secretariat / Information du Président et du Secrétariat

4.            Court coaching on satisfaction surveys / Sessions de formation des tribunaux aux enquêtes de satisfaction

5.            Preparation of guidelines on the organisation of judicial maps / Préparation de lignes directrices pour l’organisation des cartes judiciaires

o    State of affairs of the ongoing work carried out by Sciences Po Strasbourg Consulting : exchange of views with the researchers / Etat des lieux des travaux en cours par Sciences Po Strasbourg Consulting : échange de vues avec les chercheurs

 

6.            Indicators for measuring the quality of justice / Indicateurs pour mesurer la qualité de la

Justice

7.            The role of judicial experts in the quality of justice / Le rôle des experts dans la qualité du système judiciaire

8.            Organisation and accessibility of court premises / Organisation et accessibilité des bâtiments (tribunaux)

9.            Other business / Divers


Appendix II

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS / LISTE DES PARTICIPANTS

EXPERTS

Joao ARSENIO DE OLIVEIRA, Head of Division of the Unit of Civil Justice, Legal, Legal Policy and Planning Office, Ministry of Justice, Lisbon, PORTUGAL

Fabio BARTOLOMEO, Directeur Général du Bureau des Statistiques, Ministère de la Justice, Rome, ITALIE

Nikolina MIŠKOVIĆ, Judge, Commercial Court in Rijeka, Ičići, CROATIA

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

Serge PETIT, Avocat Général, Cour de Cassation, Paris, France

John STACEY, President of the CEPEJ, Northants, UNITED KINGDOM (Chair of the CEPEJ / Président de la CEPEJ)

Yinka TEMPELMAN, Quality Manager of the Dutch Council for the judiciary, The Hague, THE NETHERLANDS Apologised / Excusée

SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS / EXPERTS SCIENTIFIQUES

Sciences Po Strasbourg Consulting

www.spsc.fr

Martin DELLA CHIESA

Pierre GELMETTI

Marine MARX

Cyrielle MOSSER

Hélène SIBILEAU

Marie VIGNERON

Caroline PARQUET

OBSERVERS / OBSERVATEURS

EUROPEAN COMMISSION / COMMISSSION EUROPEENNE

Peter CSONKA, Advisor, Directorate General Justice, European Commission, Bruxelles, BELGIQUE Apologised / Excusé

Alexandra JOUR-SCHROEDER, Head of Unit JUST.B2, European Commission, Bruxelles, BELGIQUE Apologised / Excusée

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

Antoine CAHEN, Parlement européen, Commission LIBE, Bruxelles, BELGIQUE

European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) / RESEAU EUROPEEN DES CONSEILS DE LA JUSTICE (RECJ)

Jean-Marie SISCOT, Administrator of the Belgian High Council for Justice, Member of the Working Group on Quality Management

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

Jean-Jacques KUSTER, Greffier en Chef, Tribunal d'Instance de Strasbourg, Représentant de l'EUR auprès du Conseil de l'Europe, Strasbourg, FRANCE

Vivien WHYTE, Greffier au Tribunal de Grande Instance de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, FRANCE

World Bank / Banque mondiale:

Klaus DECKER, Public Sector Specialist, Public Sector and Institutional Reform, Europe and Central Asia, Vice-Presidency, World Bank, Washington DC, USA

EUROPEAN UNION (Fundamental Rights Agency) / UNION EUROPEENNE (AGENCE DES DROITS FONDAMENTAUX)

Jonas GRIMHEDEN, Programme Manager Legal Research, Freedom and justice Dept., European Union, Fundamental Rights Agency, VIENNA, AUSTRIA Apologised / Excusé

***

SECRETARIAT

DGI - Human Rights and Rule of Law

Division for the Independence and Efficiency of Justice /

DGI - Droits de l’Homme et Etat de droit

Division pour l’indépendance et l’efficacité de la Justice

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

Stéphane LEYENBERGER, Acting Head of the Justice Division, Secretary of the CEPEJ / Chef de la division de la justice a.i., 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

Hasan HENDEK, Special Advisor to the Secretariat of the CEPEJ, Judge at the disposition by the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors of Turkey / Conseiller spécial auprès du Secrétariat de la CEPEJ, Juge mis à disposition par le Haut Conseil des Juges et des Procureurs de Turquie, Tel: + 33 3 90 21 58 74, e-mail: hasan.hendek@coe.int

Maria ORESHKINA,Principal Administrative Assistant / Assistante administrative principale, Tel: + 33 3 90 21 40 26, maria.oreshkina@coe.int

 

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

Annette SATTEL, Communication, Tel: + 33 3 88 41 39 04, e-mail: annette.sattel@coe.int

Marie-José SCHUTZ, Assistant / Assistante, Tel : + 33 3 88 41 34 86, Fax : + 33 3 88 41 37 45, e-mail: marie-jose.schutz@coe.int

Interpreters / Interprètes

Christine TRAPP

Nicolas GUITTONNEAU

Monique PALMIER



[1] Namely 3.1, 3.9, 4.11 and 4.12, pages 11 and 12.