Strasbourg, 2 October 2006                                                   CEPEJ-TF-DEL(2006)6

EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE

(CEPEJ)

TASK FORCE ON TIMEFRAMES OF PROCEEDINGS

(CEPEJ-TF-DEL)

5th meeting

Strasbourg, 20 – 22 September 2006

DRAFT MEETING REPORT

At its 5th meeting, the CEPEJ-TF-DEL discussed, in view of their finalisation and adoption at the 6th meeting of TF-DEL:

1          the draft report on "length of court proceedings based on the case-law of the ECHR";

2.         the draft report on “reducing judicial time in the countries of Northern Europe ";

3.         the draft Compendium of "best practices on the court management of timeframes of judicial proceedings";

4.         discussed a first version of a questionnaire of common case categories.


1.    The Task Force on Timeframes of Proceedings (CEPEJ-TF-DEL) of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) held its 5th meeting in Strasbourg, on 20 – 22 September 2006.  The Task Force meeting was chaired by Mr Alan UZELAC (Croatia).

2.    The agenda and list of participants appear in Appendices I and II to this report.

1.   Information by the Secretariat

3.    The Secretariat forwarded the apologies of Ms. Janny KRANENBURG and Ms. Mirka SMOLEJ who could not attend the meeting. TF-DEL members were informed that the Secretariat would be reinforced by the participation of the Special Adviser, Mr. Pim ALBERS.

4.    The Task Force was presented the new website of the CEPEJ, mastered by Ms. Sandrine MARROLLEAU. The experts expressed their satisfaction for the new Web site.  

5.    The Secretariat informed that the final version of the Report on "European judicial systems - Edition 2006" would be made public and introduced to the media at a press conference to be held in Strasbourg on 5 October. The press conference could be followed via the internet.

6.    The Chair of the Taskforce informed that the "Time management checklist" had been translated into Estonian. It was suggested to present this text on the new website and to encourage other member states to translate it.

            2.   Study of the situation of judicial timeframes in the EHCR case-law

7.    The CEPEJ-TF-DEL thanked the scientific expert, Ms. Françoise CALVEZ, for her valuable work and the added value of her complementary work since the last meeting.

8.    Ms. CALVEZ explained the changes made in the last version of the draft report. She had tried to condense the report by limiting the number of details. Compared to the previous version, tables appeared in appendix, with basic information and dates of ratification of the European Convention of Human Rights. In addition to the list of complex cases, a table had been inserted with examples of non-complex cases, specifying those cases where a violation of Article 6-1 ECHR had been found and those where no violation had been found  (appendix 4).

9.    She indicated that the length of proceedings considered by the Court varied substantially according to the issues at stake for the litigants and their behaviours. Thus relatively brief timeframes (less than two years) could be considered as excessive whereas long periods (more than 8 years) could be considered in line with Article 6-1. She noted in particular that the Court was concerned by the smooth administration of justice, which was taken into account while deciding on length of proceedings.

10.  It was agreed that, as far as possible, references would be made in the report to other works of the CEPEJ, i.e. the Framework Programme on judicial timeframes, the "Time management checklist", the study on time management in the courts of Northern Europe and relevant work of the Venice Commission.

11.  It was decided that the members of the Task Force would send by e-mail concrete text proposals to the scientific expert, regarding the relevant references to be included in the report. The Secretariat would forward the suggestions received by one member to the other Task Force members. Within a period of two weeks after the meeting all the comments and suggestions for modification should have been sent to Ms. CALVEZ and the Secretariat.

12.  Textual comments can be found in Appendix III to this meeting report.

13.  The experts concluded that a brief executive summary could be limited to the main headlines of the report, with brief comments. It was agreed that Ms. CALVEZ would draft a new version of the summary, to be sent by e-mail to the experts for comments.

14.  It was agreed that the report would be published as such, as one item of the Series "The CEPEJ Studies".

15.  The Task Force agreed that the report of Ms. CALVEZ would be finalised and adopted at the 6th meeting of the CEPEJ-TF-DEL.

3.   Time management in the courts of Northern Europe

16.  The expert and member of the Task Force, Mr. Jon JOHNSEN introduced the draft report. The Task Force members thanked the various experts who had worked on it, and in particular Ms Mirka SMOLEJ and Mr. JOHNSEN. This new version followed the recommendations made at the previous meeting to merge the two reports regarding Nordic countries (the report prepared by Ms SMOLEJ and the report on criminal proceedings in Norway prepared by Mr. JOHNSEN) into one report.

17.  The Task Force members discussed the draft report and suggested textual comments that appears in Appendix IV to this meeting report. It was agreed that Mr. JOHNSEN would convey these suggestions to Ms SMOLEJ in view of the finalisation of the report, and its adoption at the next CEPEJ-TF-DEL meeting.

4.   Compendium of best practices on the court management of timeframes of judicial proceedings

18.  The scientific experts Mr. Marco FABRI and Francesco CONTINI introduced the draft Compendium. It was underlined that the draft text was still in a preliminary stage and that the list of reference would also be completed. The main information source used was the Framework programme on judicial timeframes and the information provided for by the Network on pilot-courts (Pilot court cards) as well as the existing Council of Europe's norms (recommendations) on judicial issues.

19.  The Task Force members thanked the experts for their work which was considered as a very valuable working document.

20.  Different views were expressed by the members of the Task Force on the title of the document and its format: either a voluminous report (comparable to a manual), including detailed best practices and other relevant material regarding judicial timeframes, or a list of practices, including references to countries with an outline of examples. To avoid misunderstandings and false expectations, it was agreed that the title of the report would be changed, for example into: "Time management: best practices”.

21.  Specific textual comments were given by the experts, which appear in Appendix V to this report.

22.  The final version of the document would be made be available for the next meeting of TF-DEL. It is agreed that the report should be finalised in the second half of October.

      5.   Common case categories

22. The special advisor of the CEPEJ explained the background of this subject and introduced a first preliminary questionnaire on common case categories.

23. The Chair underlined that, for the future work of the CEPEJ, it was crucial to explore the idea of common case categories. Currently there was a lack of categorisation and classification of court cases.

24. A round table discussion was held on the methodology of the approach to identify common case categories. The approach proposed by the Secretariat was to send a brief questionnaire to the members of TF-DEL to investigate the feasibility to identify common case categories, by inviting the experts to review the proposed list of criminal, administrative and civil law cases. Task Force members would be requested in particular to look at the availability of these case-categories in their own countries, the availability of quantitative information and a definition of the case categories.

25. Remarks were made concerning the headings of the columns of the draft questionnaire. It was agreed that instead of "filing" and "deposit of a case", the following headings would be used: "incoming cases", "length of proceedings" and "number of judicial decisions". For these items countries were asked about the availability of quantitative information on an annual basis.

26. In the draft questionnaire it was not clear at what court level information should be provided. Modifications in the questionnaire should be made, to make it clear that the common case categories were connected with the first level of courts, the appeal level and the level the Highest Courts.

27. It was also agreed that a more extensive introduction text would be produced by the special advisor. A new version of the draft questionnaire would be made available for the next meeting of CEPEJ-TF-DEL.

Appendix I

AGENDA /ORDRE DU JOUR

1.         Adoption of the agenda

            Adoption de l’ordre du jour

2.         Information by the Secretariat

            Information du Secrétariat

3.         Study of the situation of judicial timeframes in the ECHR case-law / Etude de la situation des délais judiciaires dans la jurisprudence de la CEDH

§    Discussion of the finalised draft report in view of its adoption and submission to the CEPEJ plenary meeting / Discussion du projet de rapport finalisé en vue de son adoption par la Task Force et sa soumission à la réunion plénière de la CEPEJ

4.         Study: « Time management in Nordic courts » / Etude: « Gestion des délais dans les tribunaux des pays d’Europe du Nord »

§    Discussion of the finalised draft report in view of its adoption and submission to the CEPEJ plenary meeting / Discussion du projet de rapport finalisé en vue de son adoption par la Task Force et sa soumission à la réunion plénière de la CEPEJ

5.         Compendium of best practices for the implementation of Lines of action of the framework programme on judicial timeframes/ Compendium de bonnes pratiques pour la mise en œuvre des lignes d’action du programme cadre sur les délais judiciaires

§    Presentation by Mr Marco FABRI and Mr Francesco CONTINI of the draft Compendium / Présentation par MM. Marco FABRI et Francesco CONTINI du projet de Compendium

§    Discussion of the draft Compendium in view of its adoption and submission to the CEPEJ plenary meeting / Discussion du projet de Compendium en vue de son adoption par la Task Force et sa soumission à la réunion plénière de la CEPEJ

6.       Tool for measuring judicial timeframes / Outil de mesure des délais judiciaires

§    Establishment of a typology of cases and the subsequent judicial timeframes/ Mise en place d'une typologie de cas et de délais de procédure correspondants

7.         Other business/Questions diverses


Appendix II

List of participants / Liste des participants

Jon T. JOHNSEN, Professor in Law, Dean, Faculty of law, University of Oslo,   Norway

Janny C. KRANENBURG, Vice-President, Court of Appeal of s’Hertogenbosch, Sector Civil Law Sector, The Netherlands,  Apologised / Excusée

John STACEY, Head of Civil & Family Procedure Branch, Her Majesty's Courts Service, London, UNITED KINGDOM

Gabor SZEPLAKI-NAGY, Conseiller Référendaire, Directeur du Bureau des Droits de l’Homme à la Cour Suprême, Budapest, Hongrie

Alan UZELAC, Ph.D. Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Croatia, Chair of the CEPEJ-TF-DEL/Président de la CEPEJ-TF-DEL

Michael VRONTAKIS,  Vice-Président du Conseil d’Etat, Athènes, GRECE

Jana WURSTOVA, Head, International Department, Czech Bar Association, Prague, Czech republic

***

SCIENTIFIC EXPERT / EXPERT SCIENTIFIQUE

Françoise CALVEZ,Magistrat, Observatoire du droit européen, Cour de Cassation, Paris, FRANCE

Francesco CONTINI, Researcher, Research Institute on Judicial Systems, National Research Council, Bologna, ITALY

Marco FABRI, Senior Researcher, Research Institute on Judicial Systems, National Research Council, Bologna, ITALY

Mirka SMOLEJ, Researcher at the Finnish National Research Institute for Legal Policies, Helsinki, FINLAND, Apologised / Excusée

***

OBSERVER / OBSERVATEUR

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

Jean-Jacques KUSTER, Greffier en chef, tribunal d'instance, Strasbourg, FRANCE Apologised / Excusé

***

CEPEJ SECRETARIAT -  Directorate General I - Legal Affairs – Division of the judiciary and programmes

SECRETARIAT DE LA CEPEJ  - Direction Générale I - Affaires Juridiques – Division de la justice et des programmes

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

Stéphane LEYENBERGER, Secretary of the CEPEJ / Secrétaire de la CEPEJ, Tel : +33 3 88 41 34 12, e-mail: stephane.leyenberger@coe.int

Pim ALBERS, Special Advisor to the Secretariat of the CEPEJ / Conseiller spécial auprès du Secrétariat de la CEPEJ, Tel : +33 3 88 41 47 74, e-mail: pim.albers@coe.int

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

Sandrine MAROLLEAU, Communication / Communication, Tél: +33 3 90 21 52 08, e-mail: sandrine.marolleau@coe.int

Elisabeth HEURTEBISE, Administrative Assistant / Assistante administrative, Tél: +33 3 88 41 35 54, e-mail: elisabeth.heurtebise@coe.int

INTERPRETERS / INTERPRETES

Nicolas GUITTONNEAU

Pascale MICHLIN

Christopher TYCZKA


Appendix III

Textual comments on the draft report on

"length of court proceedings based on the case-law of the ECHR"

1.    Footnotes. Starting with a capital letter and ending with a full stop.

2.    p.8 a “-“ should be deleted at the end.

3.    In p. 5 a connexion is made with the European Union law (second paragraph). Which reference to which convention is made in this text? This should be checked.

4.    p. 6 (seventh paragraph): is an important statement. Here a reference can be made to specific judgements of the courts.

5.    p. 16 and further all the bullets should be presented in a uniform manner.

6.    p. 20 a reference must be made to the checklist (that states should be encouraged that the length of proceeding is measured starting from the beginning to the end of the proceeding (the appeal at the supreme court).

7.    p. 29 a reference can be made to the work in the area of queuing time/waiting time of cases.

8.    p. 33 there is a mistake. The reference to a contract in the French law is limited to the administrative law. In the final report this will be corrected.

9.    Conflicting jurisdictions between courts can cause delay (change the title). P. 32

10.  The distinction of the topics between B and C (p 35) is still problematic.

11.  Appendix 1 the countries should be in alphabetical order. Changes in the ordering will be done by the Secretariat.

12.  p. 42 suggestion of Ms. Kranenburg (send by mail) to insert a reference to the work of the Venice Commission on legal remedies. The secretariat will assist Ms. Calvez to draft the proper reference.


Appendix IV

Textual comments on the draft report on

"reducing judicial time in the countries of Northern Europe"

1.    p. 14 paragraph 2.3 the title should be changed.

2.    p. 19 a reference can be made to the ‘crystal scales of justice’. Paragraph 3.3 too complex title. A rephrasing is necessary.

3.    At the paragraph on IT a reference can be made to the IT-conference organised by the Austrian ministry of justice May 2006.

4.    p. 44 ‘stand still time’ is not a correct terminology in UK language. Alternatively ‘inactive pending cases’ can be used (it is common in the United States).


Appendix V

Textual comments on the draft Compendium of

"best practices on the court management of timeframes of judicial proceedings"

1.    In part 1 more references should be made, especially to the time management checklist.

2.    p. 6 a brief glossary of terms can be extended with examples, definitions derived from the explanatory note of the Evaluation Scheme.

3.    It is necessary to clarify the definition of pending cases and backlog of cases.

4.    The introduction word has to manage the expectations of the reader. It must be clear that not all the answers may be found in this document.

5.    p. 8./9 a reference can be made to the report of the Nordic courts.

6.    idem. A reference can be made to the checklist on timeframes.

7.    It is suggested to delete the word ‘realistic’ in the paragraphs 1.1 – 1.5.

8.    p. 10 it is not clear what is meant with the title of point 3.

9.    The grammar of the report should be improved. The secretariat will assist to improve of the quality of the text.

10.  Point 4 (monitoring and diffusion of data). Title should be changed: dissemination instead of diffusion.

11.  Point 6.5 lawyers should be mentioned as well.

12.  6.5 Slovak should be changed in  Slovak Republic.

13.  Point 7. In the comment another definition is given for workload of cases.

14.  7.2 A separate point should be mentioned with respect to ADR.

15.  Money payment order and their use should be inserted as a separate point.