CEPEJ (2003) 29 Rev
EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE
Programme of activity for 2004
On 18 September 2002, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers adopted Resolution (2002) 12 establishing the European Commission for the efficiency of justice (CEPEJ).
According to its Statute, the CEPEJ is primarily concerned with giving proper effect, in states, to the existing principles and rules on efficiency of justice, mainly at European level.
The CEPEJ is also a key channel of communication with civil society, whether citizens, judicial professionals or any institution directly involved in the functioning of the justice system. To this end, it conducts specific initiatives aimed directly at the public, so that everyone understands how the justice system works.
In order to perform its tasks, the CEPEJ co-operates and co-ordinates with other bodies – whether Council of Europe ones or other international institutions - concerned with the functioning of judicial systems.
The CEPEJ began operating in 2003 and has held two plenary meetings:
(1) At its first plenary meeting, held in Strasbourg from 5 to 7 February 2003, the CEPEJ prepared draft rules of procedure, which were then approved by the Committee of Ministers. It also adopted its programme of activity for 2003.
(2) At its second plenary meeting, held in Strasbourg from 3 to 5 December 2003, the CEPEJ finalised and then adopted with a view to forwarding them to the Committee of Ministers for approval a common tool for evaluating European justice systems and, secondly. It also adopted a draft organisational charter for the European Day of Civil Justice (see below).
In 2003, as part of its country-specific activities, the CEPEJ also carried out two bilateral activities which led to specific recommendations being sent to the requesting state and to all the other member states as well:
- The first was organised at the request of the Netherlands and concerned territorial jurisdiction;
- The second – on mediation - was organised at the request of Switzerland.
The CEPEJ also hosted a one-day study session in association with the United Kingdom on “Justice: serving citizens”. The study session took place in Strasbourg on 2 December 2003 and was open to all members of the CEPEJ.
The present programme of activity for 2004 was adopted by the CEPEJ at its second plenary meeting (3 - 5 December 2003), then forwarded to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in accordance with Article 7 of the CEPEJ Statute.
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2004 programme of activity
The present programme focuses on two key tasks of the CEPEJ, as described in the above introduction:
1. the implementation of basic principles and rules concerning the efficiency of justice
Having regard to Resolution Res(2002)12, the CEPEJ is aware that its sphere of action concerning the operation and efficiency of justice is extremely wide. Owing to limited time and resources and in the interest of pragmatism and efficiency, however, the CEPEJ has decided to focus on the topics below which are of concern to all states and which have a common feature in that they help to bring justice as close as possible to individuals and their problems.
2. acting as a key partner of civil society
A – topics of common concern to all states
a. Delays in judicial proceedings
In 2004, the CEPEJ will follow a pragmatic approach to this question by establishing a synthesis of good practices and researches in Europe (both at a governmental and an international level) on delays in judicial proceedings and structuring some concrete measures for States aiming at reducing delays in judicial proceedings.
b. Implementation of the Pilote-Scheme for the evaluation of judicial systems
Following the adoption of the Pilot-Scheme for the evaluation of judicial systems (Doc. CEPEJ (2003) 35), it has to be transmitted to States in order for them to reply to the questions by 15 May 2004. The analysis of the replies will constitute a first evaluation of European judicial systems and the CEPEJ will be helped in the drafting of this evaluation report by a consultant. In the same time, the Scheme was drafted as a flexible tool which can be modified as needed and when tested.
These 2 tasks will be performed by a 8-member working party which will meet three times in 2004 to complete this work.
B – action for particular countries or in specific cases 
1 - Slovenia and Croatia: practical ways of combating delays in the justice system, excessive workloads of judges and case backlogs
2 - Switzerland : continuation of the activity 2003 on mediation.
3 – Malta : participation of 2/3 experts in the Conference on “Advanced judicial aproaches to mediation in civil and commercial matters, 26-27 February, Malta.
The delegations mentioned are invited, if necessary, to give details of the content of the activities requested.
A - Conferences
1. The Council of Europe is to organise, in association with the European Commission, a European conference dealing with some examples of the most efficient judicial procedures in Europe.
2. As part of the celebrations to mark the bicentenary of the French Civil Code, the Council of Europe is holding a European colloquy in October 2004, in association with the French Ministry of Justice and Court of Cassation, on “The Civil Code and Europe: influence and modernity”.
Although the CEPEJ is not directly responsible for organising this event, the delegations are nevertheless asked to send the secretariat any relevant suggestions or comments.
3. Conference on court automation, dealing with such issues as money claims systems, electronic legal communication, etc. (subject to available financial resources).
B – european day of civil justice
On 6 June 2003 the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers decided to launch, on a joint basis with the European Commission, the European Day of Civil Justice to be held throughout Europe in the last week of October every year, and asked the CEPEJ to organise it.
Various events staged in Council of Europe and/or European Union member states will enable users to gain a better insight into the way the civil justice system works and to access it more easily. These could include open days in courts, simulated trials, meetings with professionals, drawing competitions for children, etc., it being up to each member state to decide how they wish to mark the Day.
 At the 808th meeting of Ministers’ Deputies. Resolution (2002) 12 was later amended on 19 March 2003 (at the 832nd meeting of Ministers’ Deputies).
 In the light, inter alia, of the relevant resolutions and recommendations of the Committee of Ministers.
 States are invited to indicate to the Secretariat, by 15 January 2004, references of good practices and researches in Europe (both at a governmental and an international level) on delays in judicial proceedings
 Appointed according to the skills required to fulfill the working party’s terms of reference and a balanced geographical distribution.
 For details of how this co-operation works in practice, see the Statute of the CEPEJ and Title II of the rules of procedure.
 Proposal by the Austrian delegation in the CEPEJ.
 At the 842nd meeting of Ministers’ Deputies.