Strasbourg, 15 November  2004                                                                      CEPEJ (2004) 29

WORKING PARTY 2004

OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION

FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE

(CEPEJ-GT 2004)

3rd  meeting

Strasbourg, 8-10 November 2004

MEETING REPORT

SUMMARY

The CEPEJ-GT 2004 examined the 2002 draft evaluation report on European judicial systems as amended by scientific expert Roland Eshuis following the 2nd meeting of the CEPEJ-GT 2004 (22-24 September 2004). The Working Party commented on the revised text to enable the expert, in co-operation with the Secretariat, to finalise a draft report for examination by the CEPEJ at its 4th plenary meeting (1-3 December 2004) with a view to its adoption.

On the basis of proposals made by the CEPEJ Bureau, the CEPEJ-GT 2004 also prepared draft terms of reference for the two CEPEJ working parties planned for 2005. The drafts will be submitted to the CEPEJ for adoption at the 4th plenary meeting, at the same time as the draft activity programme for 2005.

Secretariat document

prepared by Directorate General I – Legal Affairs


1.       Working Party 2004 of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice, CEPEJ-GT 2004 (hereinafter referred to as the WP) held its 3rd meeting at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg from 8 to 10 November 2004, with Mr Jean-Paul JEAN (France) in the Chair.

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

I.         General information

Present work of the CEPEJ

1.       The Chair reported on the "Seminar on reform of the European human rights system" which he had attended in Oslo on 18 October 2004, emphasising the expectations of the European Court of Human Rights in respect of the work done by the CEPEJ.

2.      The Chair of the CEPEJ explained that, in parallel with a large number of national events all over Europe, the second edition of the European Day of Civil Justice (EDCJ) had been celebrated on 27 October last at Bautzen, in Saxony, at the invitation of the German authorities, with the participation of political and judicial representatives from the Czech Republic and Poland and in the presence of a large number of secondary school pupils.

3.      The WP was also informed that, as part of the EDCJ, an important Conference on the reforms under way to improve the efficiency of justice was held in Zagreb on 26 October, in the presence of the Croatian Prime Minister and representatives of the Council of Europe and the European Commission.  Events organised in Norway, Italy and Romania were also mentioned.

Future work of the CEPEJ

4.      At its last meeting (Strasbourg, 20 October 2004), the Bureau of the CEPEJ had prepared the draft programme of activities for 2005 (Document CEPEJ (2004) 27), with a view to the 4th plenary meeting. The programme proposed two main themes in 2005 for which working parties could be set up: length of proceedings and follow-up of judicial system evaluation (see also section V. below).

5.      The Chair of the CEPEJ also mentioned the need to give thought to the CEPEJ’s working methods and announced that the Secretariat had prepared a document (CEPEJ (2004) 26) recalling the following principles, inter alia: expertise but also stability and involvement of CEPEJ members, appropriate advertising of its work and adequate co-operation with other bodies.

II.       Framework programme "A new objective for judicial systems: the processing of each case within an optimal and foreseeable timeframe"

3.      To enable the CEPEJ to begin its work on the length of proceedings promptly in 2005, the WP stressed the need for clear proposals from the member states on the lines of action to be taken. It proposed that, following the 4th plenary meeting of the CEPEJ, the Secretariat address a new call for observations to the member states. A draft letter was agreed on to guide the states in their replies, comprising five specific questions:

 

·        Has your country taken, or does it intend to take, specific action to reduce the length of judicial proceedings (for example pursuant to decisions of the European Court of Human Rights)? If applicable, please supply the references of any available texts on the subject (standards, reports, studies).

·        Please name any courts where specific measures (good practices) have been taken to reduce the length of judicial proceedings. (Where appropriate, these courts could make up the network of CEPEJ reference courts referred to in Line of action No. 6 in the Framework Programme).

·        Are there criteria in your country for defining reasonable timeframes for each type of case? If so, please specify what they are.

·        Among the lines of action proposed in the Framework Programme, which do you believe should take priority (please list about 5 priority lines of action)?

·        Are there any specific types of case where the length of proceedings poses a problem? Would you like the CEPEJ to give priority in its work to a particular category of proceedings (civil, criminal, administrative) and, within that category, to a specific type of case (divorce, or dismissal, for example)?

4.      The European Court of Human Rights, the Directorate General of Human Rights and the other relevant Council of Europe bodies, as well as the networks of justice professionals with which the Secretariat generally co-operated would also be consulted concerning the Framework Programme.  The WP instructed the Secretariat to organise this consultation.

5.      The Framework Programme was also posted on the CEPEJ’s public Internet site. It would be presented together with a general call for observations.

6.      The WP hoped that part of the discussion at the 4th plenary meeting would focus on the implementation of the programme, and also that all the CEPEJ’s members would contribute to the effective dissemination of the Framework Programme to the people and institutions concerned in their respective countries.

III.         Communication tools of the CEPEJ

7.      The members of the WP maintained that the development of a genuine communication strategy to enhance its visibility would also help to make the CEPEJ a reference in the field of the functioning of justice, capable of making its know-how available to interested member states and organisations. The CEPEJ’s publications could all adopt the same visual layout, for example (colours, logo, etc.). The CEPEJ could set the trend by designing the layout of the evaluation report on judicial systems, due to be published early in 2005, in this spirit.

8.      The WP also supported the principle of a "Newsletter" and the compiling of "CEPEJ files", as proposed by the Bureau in the draft Programme of activities for 2005.

9.      The Secretariat informed the WP that, between 1 May and 1 September 2004, the CEPEJ Web site had received 1978 visits. A more detailed analysis of the visits to the site could be made by the competent services.


IV.       Draft 2002 evaluation report on judicial systems

General presentation of the evaluation report

10.   The WP examined the draft report entitled “Evaluation of judicial systems 2002”  (Document CEPEJ-GT (2004) 1 version 2.0), as amended by the scientific expert Mr Roland ESHUIS (the Netherlands) in the light of the comments made by the WP at its 2nd  meeting, in September 2004 (see Document CEPEJ (2004) 24).

 

11.    The WP saluted the excellent work done by the scientific expert since the September meeting to align the draft report with the WP’s observations. It was agreed that the final version of the Report (which would take the form of a CEPEJ report), would contain a preface by the Chair of the CEPEJ, Mr Eberhard DESCH, paying tribute to the work done by Mr ESHUIS and the experts who had contributed to its preparation.

12.  The WP noted that the report took into account data on 39 member states, including some information on Spain, in spite of its late reply. The countries which had not replied were Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Luxembourg, the Russian Federation and San Marino.

13.   The fact that the data on Serbia and Montenegro pertained only to Serbia and did not include Kosovo should be mentioned in the report. The WP instructed the Secretariat to ensure that the correct official names of the member states were used throughout the report.

14.  Since 2002 some member states had introduced significant legal or institutional reforms affecting the functioning of their judicial systems. The data processed up to 2002 might not reflect certain changes to the system made prior to the publication of the Report. The WP decided that, where appropriate, these recent reforms could be briefly described in Appendix V to the Rapport.

Detailed examination of the evaluation report by the Working Party

15.   The WP proposed changing the sub-title of the report from “Report on the CEPEJ evaluation scheme” to “Facts and Figures on the basis of a survey conducted in 39 Council of Europe Member States”. The general title “European Judicial Systems 2002” remained unchanged.

16.   A note should be added to table 7, which referred inter alia to question 11, explaining that the replies might differ from country to country, depending on whether or not it was possible to sue for damages in criminal proceedings by depositing a sum of money.

17.   It was agreed that Mr ESHUIS would verify the consistency in the presentation of tables containing the same type of data: on judges and public prosecutors, for example.

18.   The maps of the member states shown in Appendix V should all come from the same source, so that all the states were represented in the same way.

 

Examination of the evaluation report by the CEPEJ with a view to its adoption

19.   The version examined by the WP has already been sent to all the members of the CEPEJ to give them a clear idea of the content. A version revised on the basis of what had been said at this meeting would be prepared: changes to the tables and diagrams would be made by the scientific expert, and changes to the text by the Secretariat. The new version would be forwarded to the members de the CEPEJ for examination at its 4th plenary meeting, with a view to its adoption.

20.  It was pointed out that the report was the fruit of a pilot exercise, with the shortcomings and flaws inherent in the experimental nature of the evaluation. In principle, however, the data it contained had been supplied officially by the states and were therefore their responsibility. Numerous consultations between the scientific expert and the correspondents responsible for answering the questionnaire had been arranged. Furthermore, prior to the plenary meeting, the report had been examined in detail by the CEPEJ-GT-2004 at two meetings. It had also been made available to the states through the members of the CEPEJ, so that the necessary consultations could be organised in the member states. Accordingly, the CEPEJ-GT-2004 considered that the members of the CEPEJ should be able to take a stance on the report at the 4th plenary meeting (1-3 December 2004).

 

21.   The WP reiterated its desire for the report, as adopted by the CEPEJ, to be given as much publicity as possible:

·        presentation conference organised in the first part of 2005 in a major European town or city and open to the media,

·        quality publication in book form,

·        appropriate use of the CEPEJ’s Internet Site.

V.        Preparation of draft terms of reference concerning the activities of the CEPEJ in 2005

22.  On instructions from the Bureau of the CEPEJ, and in order to complete the draft activity programme for 2005 which the Bureau had drawn up, the WP prepared draft terms of reference for the two working parties to be set up in 2005, for the attention of the CEPEJ:

      (1)        Task Force on the length of judicial proceedings (see Appendix III);

            (2)       Working Party on the evaluation of judicial systems (see Appendix IV).

23.  The Task Force on procedural timeframes (CEPEJ-TF-DEL) was instructed to take practical measures based on the lines of action contained in the Framework Programme on the length of proceedings.  It should contribute to the long-term strategy of the CEPEJ to reduce the length of proceedings in Europe. To achieve this, its aim should be to carry out an in-depth analysis of the situation in the member states and of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights concerning the reasonable timeframe that would eventually enable it to make concrete recommendations and highlight good practices for reducing the duration of proceedings. The Task Force could base its work on a network of reference courts in the member states.

24.   The Working Party on the evaluation of judicial systems (CEPEJ-GT-EVAL) was instructed to make use of the common tool set in place by the CEPEJ for objectively evaluating the functioning of European judicial systems. The job of this working party would consist not only in continuing the evaluation exercise but also in devising practical means of usefully exploiting the results already achieved in the first evaluation exercise.

25.  Subject to the availability of funds, if the CEPEJ decided to set up these two working parties they could each hold 3 meetings, one of which would be a joint meeting. The WP emphasised the need for close co-operation between the two working parties, in particular to give the Task Force the full benefit of their findings and of the evaluation projects on the length of proceedings.

26.  The WP recalled the importance of including practitioners and specialists in these fields in the working parties to be set up in 2005. The composition of the working parties should also be such that as many member states as possible were directly involved in the work of the CEPEJ.

27.  The two draft terms of reference would be submitted to the CEPEJ for adoption at the 4th plenary meeting.


APPENDIX I

AGENDA

1.                   Adoption of the agenda

2.                  Communication by the Secretariat

3.                  Framework Programme on lengths of proceeding

Ø  Selection of the Lines of Action for 2005

Ø  Preparation of draft terms of reference for the Working Group in charge of the delays/

Ø  Strategies on the consultation and the publicity concerning the framework programme/

Working documents/documents de travail

Framework-Programme

CEPEJ (2004) 19 Rev

Draft terms of reference of the Working Group for 2005 /

4.                  Tools for communication of CEPEJ:  exploring the modalities which would make it possible for the CEPEJ to play a role of clearing house for the relevant documents regarding the efficiency of justice, in particular through its internet Web site

Working documents/documents de travail

Setting up the "CEPEJ Files

CEPEJ-BU (2004) 3

Some guiding reflections on the operation of the CEPEJ

CEPEJ (2004) 26

5.                  Draft Evaluation Report of Judicial Systems 2002

Working documents/documents de travail

Report on the CEPEJ evaluation scheme by Roland Eshuis (Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek en Documentatie Centrum Ministry of Justice, The Netherlands)

CEPEJ-GT (2004) 1 rev.

(English only)

Comments on survey

CEPEJ-GT (2004) 2

(English only)

Questions and answers

CEPEJ-GT (2004) 3

(English only)

Draft terms of reference of the Working Group for 2005 /

6.                  Any other business

Background documents

                                                                                                                         Report of the 2nd meeting CEPEJ-GT 2004

CEPEJ (2004) 24

Report of the 3rd meeting of the CEPEJ

CEPEJ (2004) 20

Report of the Meeting of the national correspondents responsible for collecting data under the Pilot Scheme for Evaluating Judicial Systems

CEPEJ (2004) 25

Pilot-Scheme of evaluating judicial system

CEPEJ (2003) 36 Addendum I

 

CEPEJ- Activity Programme 2004

CEPEJ (2003) 29 Rev


APPENDIX II

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS

CROATIA/CROATIE

Alan UZELAC, Ph.D. Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb

FRANCE

Jean-Paul JEAN, Substitut Général, Cour d’Appel de Paris, Professeur associé à l'Université de Poitiers (President of the GT 2004 / Président du GT 2004)

GERMANY/ALLEMAGNE

Eberhard DESCH, Head of Division of International Law, Federal Ministry of Justice, Berlin (President of the CEPEJ / Président de lan CEPEJ)

ITALY/ITALIE

Mario REMUS, Magistrat de Cassation, Ministère de la Justice, Rome

NETHERLANDS/PAYS‑BAS

Pim ALBERS, Senior Policy Advisor, Strategy Department for the Administration of Justice, Ministry of Justice, The Hague

Roland ESHUIS, Researcher of the WODC, Ministry of Justice, The Hague (Scientific expert / expert scientifique)

 

NORWAY/NORVEGE

Jon T. JOHNSEN, Professor in Law, Department of public law, University of Oslo

 

POLAND / POLOGNE

Beata Z. GRUSZCZYŃSKA, Institute of Justice, Ministry of Justice, Warsaw

ROMANIA/ROUMANIE

Ion POPA, Director, Ministry of Justice, Direction of Organisation, Human Resources and Judiciary Statistics, Bucharest

UNITED KINGDOM / ROYAUME UNI : Excused/Excusé

EUROPEAN COMMISSION / COMMISSION EUROPEENNE

Katarzyna GRZYBOWSKA, Expert national détaché, DG JAI

SECRETARIAT

Stéphane LEYENBERGER, Directorate General I – Legal Affairs, Secretary of the CEPEJ / Direction Générale I - Affaires Juridiques, Secrétaire de la CEPEJ, Tel : +33 3 88 41 34 12, Fax: +33 3 88 41 37 45, e-mail : stephane.leyenberger@coe.int

Muriel DECOT, Directorate General I - Legal Affairs, Co-Secretary of the CEPEJ / Direction Générale I - Affaires Juridiques, Co-Secrétaire de la CEPEJ, Tel : +33 3  90 20 44 55,  Fax : +33 3 88 41 37 45, e-mail : muriel.decot@coe.int

José-Maria FERNANDEZ-VILLALOBOS,Directorate General I - Legal Affairs / Direction Générale I - Affaires Juridiques, Tel : +33 3  90 20 44 55,  Fax : +33 3 88 41 37 45, e-mail : muriel.decot@coe.int

Jean-Pierre GEILLER, Directorate General I - Legal Affairs / Direction Générale I - Affaires Juridiques, Tel : +33 3  88 41 22 27,  Fax : +33 3 88 41 37 45, e-mail : jean-pierre.geiller@coe.int

Elisabeth HEURTEBISE, Directorate General I - Legal Affairs / Direction Générale I - Affaires Juridiques, Tel : +33 3  88 41 35 54,  Fax : +33 3 88 41 37 45, e-mail : elisabeth.heurtebise@coe.int


APPENDIX III

Draft terms of reference of

the Task Force on timeframes of proceedings

 (CEPEJ-TF-DL)

1.         Tasks

Under the authority of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice, the Task Force on timeframes of proceedings (CEPEJ-TF-DL) is instructed to translate into practical measuresthe Lines of Action set out in the Framework Programme entitled "A new objective for judicial systems:  the processing of each case within an optimum and foreseeable timeframe" (CEPEJ (2004) 19 Rev).

The CEPEJ-TF-DEL shall in particular:

1.                               Examine the timeframes for judicial procedures by:

a.      analysing the situation of existing timeframes in the member States (timeframes per types of cases, waiting times in the proceedings, etc.);

b.      studying the standards for reasonable time and the causes for delays, in particular by studying cases dealt with by the European Court of Human Rights;

c.       providing an analytical tool with a view to possible reforms.

2.                  Specify the Lines of Action regarded as priorities and then define on this basis the work plan by giving priority to practical measures with direct impact on timeframes and paying special attention to users of the justice system;

3.                  Elaborate, on the basis of the experiences of Member States, a Compendium of best practices in Europe for improving procedure timeframes, to be regularly updated. 

In order to fulfil its tasks, the CEPEJ-TF-DEL shall in particular:

·        examine member States’ comments on the Framework Programme[1];

·        articulate its works with the works of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL as regards timeframes of proceedings, namely on the basis of the results of the evaluation exercises through the   Evaluation Scheme;

·        rely on appropriate networks allowing the integration of the works and reflections of the judicial community, in particular on a network of pilot courts within the member States[2], to exploit innovative projects aimed at reducing and adjusting the timeframes           operated by courts in member States. 

2.         Composition

The CEPEJ-TF-DEL shall be composed of 6 members of the CEPEJ or other experts appointed by the Bureau of the CEPEJ who have an in-depth knowledge in the field of procedure timeframes. Their travel and subsistence expenses will be borne by the budget of the Council of Europe.

The relevant Council of Europe and European Union bodies, observers to the CEPEJ as well as representatives of civil society having a specific interest on proceedings delays might be represented to the CEPEJ-TF-DEL without the right to vote or defrayal expenses.

3.         Working structures and methods

The CEPEJ-TF-DEL will held 3 meetings in 2005, one of them being combined with one meeting of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL. 

In carrying out its terms of reference, the CEPEJ-TF-DEL may seek the advice of external experts and have recourse to studies by consultants.

4.        Duration

These terms of reference expire on 31 December 2006.


APPENDIX IV

Draft terms of reference of

the Working Group on evaluation judicial systems

(CEPEJ-GT-EVAL)

1.         Tasks

Under the authority of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), the Working Group on evaluation judicial systems (CEPEJ-GT-EVAL)is instructed to carry out the common tool set up by the CEPEJ which aims at evaluating in an objective manner the functioning of the judicial systems in Europe.

In order to fulfil its tasks, the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL shall in particular:

a.                  make proposals for a communication strategy which ensures that the results of this pilot exercise for evaluating judicial systems receive due prominence;

b.                  revise the evaluation scheme in the light of the conclusions of the pilot exercise to ensure the relevance of the exercise of evaluation of the European judicial systems, as an ongoing process;

c.                   draw up a list of essential data for evaluation purposes and make recommendations so that States organise their statistics collection systems so as to be able to supply those data in future;

d.                  make proposals for appropriate exploitation of the results achieved through the evaluation exercise and formulate if possible concrete guidelines in order to improve the efficiency of judicial systems in Europe.

2.         Composition

The CEPEJ-GT-EVAL shall be composed of 6 members of the CEPEJ or other experts appointed by the CEPEJ who have an in-depth knowledge in the field of the evaluation of judicial systems. Their travel and subsistence expenses will be borne by the budget of the Council of Europe.

The relevant Council of Europe and European Union bodies and the observers to the CEPEJ might be represented to the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL without the right to vote or defrayal expenses.

3.         Working structures and methods

The CEPEJ-GT-EVAL will organise 3 meetings in 2005, one of them being combined with one meeting of the CEPEJ-TF-DEL. 

It will rely on particular the network of national correspondents entrusted with the fulfilment of the Scheme

In carrying out its terms of reference, the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL may seek the advice of external experts and have recourse to studies by consultants.

4.        Duration

These terms of reference expire on 31 December 2006.

APPENDIX V

Presented by Professor Alan UZELAC (Croatia), Member of the Bureau of the CEPEJ



[1] The Framework Programme will be send again to the Member States for comments on the basis of specific questions, after the 4th plenary meeting of the CEPEJ.

[2] on the basis of the Line of action 6 of the Framework-Programme