cepej_coe

Strasbourg, 18 November 2013

CEPEJ-GT-QUAL(2013)10

EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE

(CEPEJ)

WORKING GROUP ON THE QUALITY OF JUSTICE (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL)

14th meeting, 19-20 September 2013

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 14th meeting at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, on 19 and 20 September 2013, with François PAYCHÈRE in the chair.

2.      The Chair welcomed the delegation from the European Expertise and Experts Institute (EEEI). Considering its expertise, it was proposed that it apply for observer status with the CEPEJ, with a view to participating in the work of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL.

3.     The meeting 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

4.     The Secretariat informed members of the Working Group about the co-operation activities which were designed to ensure that CEPEJ tools were more widely disseminated and to enable the recipient states to benefit from the CEPEJ’s expertise. These tools and expertise allowed the CEPEJ to offer added value in relation to other international partners.

5.     Within the context of these programmes, the Secretariat reported on the activities set up under the neighbourhood policy with the Mediterranean countries. Projects were under way in Morocco and Tunisia, and were due to start shortly in Jordan. The aim was to assess the functioning of the judicial system and to institute co-operation with pilot courts in order to provide guidance on reforms to improve the efficiency and quality of the system, using CEPEJ tools (including the SATURN tools and those developed within the framework of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL).

 

6.     The co-operation with the Moroccan authorities received a positive assessment. François PAYCHÈRE (Switzerland) told members about the difficulty encountered in the project with Tunisia. The situation was very tricky from a political and institutional standpoint, not least because there was no constitution: the status of judges was still uncertain and the rules were unclear, especially where the criteria governing dismissal were concerned. The Chair described the features of the Tunisian judicial system and highlighted the more problematic aspects (inconsistent case-law due, at least in part, to the lack of internal databases, civil procedure rules that allowed the parties too much power, etc.).

7.     François PAYCHÈRE also informed the experts about the situation with regard to the judiciary in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which had received a visit from a group of experts from the CEPEJ three years after the first visit. He noted that major progress had been made in terms of IT systems which were now better, qualitatively speaking, than most of those found in European countries. The situation with regard to the number of non-UAE judges had not improved but there had been an increase in the number of women.

8.     Members of the group were also informed that a new CEPEJ evaluation process for judicial systems had got under way. The new electronic questionnaire had been made available to national correspondents at the beginning of June and the report was due out in the autumn 2014.

9.     The Secretariat announced that the European Commission had asked the CEPEJ to participate in the preparation of the EU’s “justice scoreboard”, using the CEPEJ evaluation methods. A decision on this co-operation, which could be renewed for a number of years, was expected at Committee of Ministers level.  

10.    John STACEY (United Kingdom) reported on the annual congress of the European Union of Rechtpfleger (EUR) in Freiburg (Germany), from 4 to 8 September 2013, which he had attended.

11.    Fabio BARTOLOMEO (Italy) said he would be attending a conference in Algeria on 19 and 20 October 2013, on behalf of the CEPEJ.  

12.    He also said that a second court user satisfaction survey was being conducted at the court of Turin. The findings would be presented in October 2013.

III.        INDICATORS FOR MEASURING THE QUALITY OF JUSTICE

13.    As requested by the CEPEJ at its 20th plenary meeting, the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL had held a joint working session with the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL to agree indicators for measuring the quality of justice.  

14.    During this working session, members of the two groups had tasked John STACEY and François PAYCHÈRE with preparing a new version of the draft CEPEJ Guidelines for measuring the quality of justice (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL(2012)2Rev2).

15.    François PAYCHÈRE presented the updated version of the draft. He also asked the group whether, in its opinion, enough work had been done on the document to enable the new draft Guideline to be finalised. If so, he proposed that arrangements be made for a further co-operation phase with the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL.

16.    The Working Group thanked John STACEY and François PAYCHÈRE for their efforts. Members of the Group made a number of suggestions for improving the document in question and, after the discussion, Fabio BARTOLOMEO said he would put the proposed changes in an e-mail, at the earliest opportunity. The Group instructed the Secretariat to forward the document, as amended, to the GT-EVAL so that it could assess it at its meeting on 17 and 18 October 2013.

17.    It also decided to make the latest additions, based on GT-EVAL members’ comments, electronically, so that the finalised version could be presented for adoption at the next plenary session of the CEPEJ on 5 and 6 December 2013.

IV.       PREPARATION OF DRAFT GUIDELINES ON THE ORGANISATION AND ACCESSIBILITY OF COURT PREMISES

18.    The Chair thanked Rob HOOTSMANS, architect (Netherlands) and Gilles ACCOMANDO (France) and Michel PERCHEPIED (France) for agreeing to discuss this matter with the GT-QUAL.

19.    The Secretariat presented the summary of the replies to the questionnaire that had previously been sent to the pilot courts.

20.    The experts emphasised that our conception of justice was changing: once a symbol of the power and authority of the state, justice was increasingly viewed as a “public service”, and this change had had a major impact on the organisation and accessibility of court premises.

21.    With regard to accessibility, this needed to be thought out so as to facilitate public interaction with the justice system.

22.    Issues related to the urban condition were an important factor in ensuring the accessibility of courts. The symbolic importance of court premises also hinged on their position in the town. Courts, however, did not necessarily have to be in town centres. What mattered was that they should be easily accessible by public transport and that there should be parking facilities. Having old court buildings located in town centres, even historic ones, could create problems in terms of access.

23.    According to the experts, there were three types of access that needed to be considered: security-related, directional and legal. Such access should be provided both physically and virtually. In order to dematerialise access, terminals, complete with software, should be available to users to help them find their way around both the physical environment and the legal system. The signposting at the entrance to the building should be sufficiently clear to prevent users from getting lost.

24.    With regard more specifically to the internal organisation of courts, the focus of the debate had now shifted from separating work areas and public areas to managing flows (prisoners, staff, members of the public). The aim was to strike a balance between the various actors’ competing needs.

25.    For members of the public, courts were, by nature, high-stress environments. It was advisable to make use of spaces and materials in such a way as to reduce these negative associations.

26.    The layout of court buildings should be sufficiently flexible to enable it to be adapted according to the circumstances and needs, by creating, for example, smaller but modular courtrooms (the waiting room could become an extension of the courtrooms’ public space, thanks to sliding partitions). Also, in keeping with the notion of justice as a public service, it should be for court personnel to come to the public, not the other way round (e.g. judges should move around the chambers with the case-files).

27.    Staff’s working conditions were another key factor to be considered when building or renovating courts. The layout of the premises had an impact on the quality of judges’ work and, in particular, their working methods. Accordingly, care must be taken not to impose external models but rather to adapt these models to existing needs. For example, shifting to open-space working required that records be computerised and working methods standardised, and went hand in hand with greater use of teleworking. Under this arrangement, space would be used for a wider range of purposes, and single-occupancy offices would be fewer in number, smaller and less personal, since they would be occupied every day by the judges, as and when they arrived, and these same judges would no longer need to keep paper files in their offices. In set-ups where judges worked in a highly individualised way and records were not computerised, an open-space design could lead to problems in managing the work. In such cases, judges were used to working in their own offices, away from other judges. It was importance therefore that each judge be able to choose the most suitable workspace for them, according to the particular activity they were required to perform.

28.    Following the exchange of views, the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL instructed Gilles ACCOMANDO and Michel PERCHEPIED, scientific experts, to submit draft guidelines on this subject, in time for the next meeting of the group.

V.         THE ROLE OF EXPERTS IN THE QUALITY OF JUSTICE SYSTEMS

29.    The Chair thanked the delegation from the EEEI for taking part in the work of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL and for their willingness to contribute to the discussion on the role of experts.

30.    At its 13th meeting on 11 and 12 April 2013, the GT-QUAL had decided to instruct a scientific expert to prepare a discussion paper and a questionnaire to be submitted to the pilot courts on “the role of experts in the quality of justice systems”, with a view to carrying out a study.

31.    The Chair accordingly thanked Gar Yein NG (Norway), scientific expert, for his preparatory work. Following the presentation of the discussion paper and the draft questionnaire, members of the group and the experts from the EEEI shared their thoughts on the issues raised by the questionnaire.  

32.    The discussions focused mainly on certain major challenges concerning the status and role of experts: a) the concept of expert and expertise was rather fuzzy, and constantly evolving; b) the issue of experts’ pay had implications for the cost of proceedings and experts’ status, pay being a determining factor in whether experts pursued their activities on a full- or part-time basis; c) in the context of the contractualisation of proceedings, cost factors and timeframes played a key role. Proceedings were increasingly technical, leading to higher costs and longer timeframes. Bearing in mind that the role of experts was secondary to other factors in judges’ ability to do their job, it was vital to set clear objectives when defining experts’ remit and to plan the proceedings in sufficient detail, complete with costings; d) in this context, the supervisory and reviewing role played by the judge was essential: the job of experts was to assist judges, not to replace them, with the judge continuing to act as sole arbiter; e) the need to supervise experts’ activities was leading to growing standardisation in terms of expert reports and remits. At present, however, there was no consensus on the criteria and standards that should be adopted; f) lastly, experts’ independence and impartiality was an issue mainly in cases where the experts were appointed by the parties.

33.    Jean-Raymond LEMAIRE, Chair of the EEEI, outlined the statutes, role and activities of his institute. He referred inter alia to the recommendations made at the conference on “The future of civil judicial expertise in the European Union” held in March 2012, concerning: a) the appointment and mission of experts; b) expert proceedings and the expert’s report; c) training, competence and assessment of experts and, lastly, d) status, ethics, free exercise and liability. 

34.    The CEPEJ-GT-QUAL instructed Gar Yein NG to amend the questionnaire in the light of the comments made during the exchange of views and any comments that might be submitted by members of the group and/or the EEEI experts by 30 September 2013. The questionnaire would then be sent to the pilot courts. Gar Yein NG undertook to present the study at the next meeting of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL.

VI.    DRAFT AMENDMENTS TO THE GUIDELINES ON THE ORGANISATION OF JUDICIAL MAPS

35.    The Guidelines on the Creation of Judicial Maps to Support Access to Justice within a Quality Judicial System (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL(2013)4) had been adopted at the 21st plenary meeting of the CEPEJ (CEPEJ2013)7).

36.    Fabio BARTOLOMEO, acting on proposals from the Dutch and German members, suggested making some changes to the document.

37.    The Working Group agreed to adopt the said amendments and also decided to forward the text, as amended, to the CEPEJ for approval at the next plenary meeting on 5 and 6 December 2013.

VII. COURT USER SATISFACTION SURVEYS  

38.    Fabio BARTOLOMEO presented the document “Customer satisfaction surveys among court users: checklist for court coaching” (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL(2013)5).

39.    He explained that this tool was designed to be used by teams of specialists and individuals with experience of conducting court user satisfaction surveys, so that they could help member states to assess the organisational arrangements for such surveys before they were administered. The document was not simply a checklist of what had or had not been done at the project site, but rather a detailed guide enabling a team of experts to offer coaching in conducting user satisfaction surveys. 

40.    Fabio BARTOLOMEO said that the idea of introducing this new tool had sprung from the realisation, while administering satisfaction surveys in the different courts, that improvements could be made to the way surveys were conducted. The purpose of the document was twofold: firstly, it should help to improve the quality of the surveys carried out and, secondly, it should ensure continuity in the way they were administered within the same court.

41.    The Group thanked Fabio BARTOLOMEO for his work. The Secretariat also announced a proposal for an amendment put forward by Jacques BÜHLER, Chair of CEPEJ-SATURN. The CEPEJ-GT-QUAL examined the checklist, made a number of changes and adopted the text, as amended.


Appendix I

AGENDA

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

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

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

·           Discussion of the new draft document / discussion du nouveau projet de document

4.           Preparation of draft Guidelines on the organisation and accessibility of court premises / Préparation d’un projet de Lignes directrices sur l’Organisation et l’accessibilité des bâtiments (tribunaux)

·           Exchange of views with specialised architects, Mr Rob Hootsmans (Hootsmans architectuurbureau and Architect) and Mr Michel Perchepied (Chief Ingenior of public works, Head of the real Estate Department of Toulouse, French Ministry of Justice) / Echange de vues avec des architectes specialisés, MM. Rob Hootsmans (Hootsmans architectuurbureau and Architect) et Michel Perchepied, Ingénieur en chef des travaux publics de l'Etat, Chef du département Immobilier de Toulouse, Ministère français de la Justice

·           Examination of the responses by the pilot courts to the questionnaire / Examen des réponses des tribunaux-référents au questionnaire

·           Exchange of views with the scientific expert Mr Gilles Accomando, Président du Tribunal de Grande Instance d’Avignon, France, on draft guidelines / Echange de vues avec l’expert scientifique, Mr Gilles Accomando, President of the Tribunal de Grande Instance d’Avignon, France, sur le projet de lignes directrices

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

·           Exchange of views with representatives of the International Institute of Expertise and Experts, Mr Jean-Raymond Lemaire, President of the European Institute on expertise and experts (EEEI), Judicial expert in informatics by the Court of Appeal of Versailles (France), Mr Alain Nuee, First President of the Court of Appeal of Versailles (France), President of the Orientation Committee of the EEEI and Mr Alain Henderickx, Lawyer at the Brussels’s Bar (Cabinet LAWELL), representative of the Brussel’s Bar at the EEEI

Echange de vues avec des représentants de l’Institut international de l’expertise et de l’expert, M. Jean-Raymond Lemaire, Président de l’Institut Européen de l’expertise et de l’expert (EEEI), Expert judiciaire en informatique Près la Cour d’Appel de Versailles (France), M. Alain Nuee, Premier président de la Cour d’appel de Versailles, Président du Comité d’Orientation au sein de l’EEEI et Maître Alain Henderickx, Avocat au Barreau de Bruxelles (Cabinet Lawell), Représentant du Barreau de Bruxelles au sein de l’EEEI

 

·           Exchange of views with the scientific expert Ms Gar Yein Ng (Norway) on the basis of the terms of reference for preparing draft guidelines / Echange de vues avec l’expert scientifique, Mme Gar Yein Ng (Norvège) à partir du mandate pour préparer un projet de lignes directrices

6.            Draft amendements to the Guidelines on the organisation of judicial maps / Projet d’amendements aux Lignes directrices pour l’organisation des cartes judiciaires

7.            Court user satisfaction surveys / Enquêtes de satisfaction auprès des usagers des tribunaux 

·           Information on on-going court coaching activities / Information sur les activités de formation des tribunaux en cours

·           Draft checklist prepared by Fabio Bartolomeo / Projet de Checklist préparée par Fabio Bartolomeo

·           Preparation of the plenary meeting of the pilot courts : workshop on the precautions to be taken while organising such surveys / Préparation de la réunion plénière des tribunaux-référents : atelier sur les précautions à prendre lors de l’organisation de telles enquêtes

8.            Other business / Divers


Appendix II

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS

EXPERTS

Joao ARSENIO DE OLIVEIRA, Head of Department, international Affairs Department, Directorate-General for Justice Policy - Ministry of Justice, Lisbon, PORTUGAL, Apologised / Excusé

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

Anke EILERS, Judge, Oberlandesgericht Köln, GERMANY

Nikolina MIŠKOVIĆ, Judge, Commercial Court in Rijeka, CROATIA

François PAYCHÈRE, Président de la Cour des Comptes, Genève, SUISSE (Chair of the GT-QUAL / Président du GT-QUAL)

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

John STACEY, Government Advisor for the Efficiency and Quality of Justice, UNITED KINGDOM

(President of the CEPEJ / Président de la CEPEJ)

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

EXPERTS SCIENTIFIQUES / SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS

Gilles ACCOMANDO, Président du tribunal de Grande Instance d’Avignon,  FRANCE

Alain HENDERICKX, Avocat au Barreau de Bruxelles (Cabinet Lawell), Représentant du Barreau de Bruxelles au sein de l’Institut Européen de l’Expertise et de l’Expert (EEEI) Bruxelles, BELGIQUE

Rob HOOTSMANS, Architect,  Owner of Hootsmans Architectuurbureau, Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS

Jean-Raymond LEMAIRE, Président de l’Institut Européen de l’Expertise et de l’expert (EEEI),  Expert judiciaire en informatique près de la Cour d’Appel de Versailles agréé par la Cour de Cassation, Levallois-Perret, FRANCE

Gar Yein NG, Scientific expert,  Oslo, NORWAY

Alain NUEE, Premier Président de la Cour d’Appel de Versailles, Président du Comité d’Orientation au sein de l’Institut Européen de l’Expertise et de l’Expert (EEEI), Cour d’Appel de VersaillesVersailles, FRANCE

Michel PERCHEPIED, Ingénieur en Chef des Travaux Publics de l’Etat, Chef du Département Immobilier de Toulouse, Ministère de la Justice – Plateforme Interrégionale Sud, Toulouse, FRANCE

OBSERVERS / OBSERVATEURS

EUROPEAN COMMISSION / COMMISSSION EUROPEENNE:

Per IBOLD,  International Relations Officer, European Commission, DG Justice – Unit 02, Brussels, BELGIUM

COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION / CONSEIL DE L’UNION EUROPEENNE:

Rafael FERNANDEZ PITA, Director General, General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, Justice and Home Affairs, Brussels, BELGIUM

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

Antoine CAHEN,  Parlement européen, Commission LIBE, Bruxelles, BELGIQUEApologised / Excusé

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):

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

Apologised / Excusé

World Bank / Banque mondiale:

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

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

Jonas GRIMHEDEN, Head of Sector Access to Justice, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Vienna, AUSTRIA

Apologised / Excusé

council of the bars and law societies of the european union (ccbe) /CONSEILS DES BARREAUX EUROPEENS (CCBE):

Simone CUOMO, Legal Advisor, , Brussels, BELGIUM

Apologised / Excusé

***

SECRETARIAT

DGI - Human Rights and Rule of Law

Division for the Independance 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

Hanne JUNCHER, Head of Justice and Legal Co-operation Department /Chef du Service de la coopération judiciaire et juridique, Tél: +33 3 88 44 24 37, e-mail : hanne.juncher@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

Roberto CHENAL,  Administrator / Administrateur, Tél : +33 3 90 21 55 04, e-mail : roberto.chenal@coe.int

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

Annette SATTEL, Administration and networks / Administration et réseaux, 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

Grégoire DEVICTOR

Luke TILDEN

Nicolas GUITTONNEAU