Strasbourg, 15 July 2015
European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)
Working Group on evaluation (CEPEJ-GT-EVAL)
Pilot co-operation process / Peer review on judicial statistics
7th cycle (2015)
Vilnius (Lithuania), 27-28 May 2015 (n°15)
1. The exercise of evaluating judicial systems carried out by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) has the aim of progressively defining a core of quantitative as well as qualitative key elements, collected on a regular basis and examined in the same way in all the member States of the Council of Europe. This will allow the pinpointing of common indicators on the quality and the efficiency of the functioning of justice within the member States of the Council of Europe, in order to present a unique picture of the organisation of justice in Europe.
2. Given the stakes at hand, practical precautions are necessary to give credit to such an exercise. With this end in view, the 47 members of the CEPEJ have framed an evaluation scheme which has been discussed and is to become permanent, the CEPEJ has also set up a system of national delegates permitting efficient communication with the secretariat of the CEPEJ. Finally, guidelines on statistics are being discussed.
3. With a view to upgrading its methods, the CEPEJ decided at its 10th plenary meeting (Strasbourg, 5-6 December 2012) to set up a pilot peer review co-operation process in order to strengthen the credibility of the data collected in the framework of the activity for evaluating European judicial systems. This pilot co-operation process will consist in visits to three States every year on a voluntary basis. In 2008, for the first cycle of evaluation, France, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Poland welcomed the peers of the CEPEJ. In 2009, Malta and the Russian Federation were visited but this second cycle was only achieved in 2010 by means of a meeting in Oslo regrouping 5 Nordic States. The third cycle consisted of three visits: Turkey, the Netherlands and Austria. In 2012, the fourth cycle consisted of the visit in Azerbaijan and the fifth cycle was held in 2013 and included Latvia. The sixth cycle organised in 2014 consisted in three visits: Israel, Estonia and Switzerland.
4. Peers are members or observers of the Working Group on Evaluation of the CEPEJ (CEPEJ-GT-EVAL) which also have the task to prepare, every two years, the report on evaluation of the European judicial systems. As a rule, the peers’ visit in the given State is organised by the CEPEJ member and the national correspondent responsible for the collection of CEPEJ data. In order to increase the various co-operation projects and exchanges, one of these latter persons may be asked to assist the peers in another visit within the same evaluation cycle.
5. The main objectives of this co-operation are as follows :
§ Supporting Council of Europe member States in:
improving the quality of their judicial statistics,
developing their statistics system so that judicial statistics at national level are in line with the common indicators defined through the CEPEJ's Evaluation Scheme.
§ Facilitating the exchange of experiences between national judicial statistics systems, sharing good practices, identifying benchmarks and facilitating the transfer of information.
§ Contributing to the transparency and accountability of the CEPEJ process for evaluating European judicial systems and helping to improve the process.
6. The reports can be consulted in the following documents CEPEJ-GT-EVAL(2008)1 (1st cycle), CEPEJ-GT-EVAL(2010)5 (2nd cycle), CEPEJ-GT-EVAL(2011)2Rev3 (3rd cycle), CEPEJ-GT-EVAL(2012)8(4th cycle), CEPEJ-GT-EVAL(2013)9Rev (5th cycle) and CEPEJ-GT-EVAL(2014)2 (6th cycle).
Date: 27-28 May 2015
National Court Administration, Lithuania
Ministry of Justice, Lithuania
Ms. Ernesta Sakalauskienė, head of Legal division of National Courts Administration
Ms. Laima Garnelienė, judge of the Court of Appeal of Lithuania, member of the Judicial Council
Ms. Reda Molienė, director of the National Courts Administration
Mr. Paulius Griciūnas, Vice-Minister of Justice
Mr. Egidijus Laužikas, Chairperson of the Judicial Council, judge of the Supreme Court of Lithuania
Mr. Linas Petravičius, chief specialist of the Strategic Planning division of National Courts Administration
Ms. Vaida Keinaitė, deputy head of IT division of National Courts Administration
Mr. Vytautas Zelianka, Chairperson of the Regional Court of Vilnius, member of the Judicial Council, judge
Ms. Zita Smirnovienė, judge of the Regional Court of Vilnius
Ms. Loreta Braždienė, Chairperson of the District Court of Vilnius , judge
Mr. Darius Žilys, director of the International Law Department of the Ministry of Justice;
Ms. Natalija Žilinskienė, head of the division of Legal System Development of Legal System Department of the Ministry of Justice;
Ms Lina Griškevič, deputy head of Legal division of the National Courts Administration;
M. Linas Rumbaitis, chief specialist of the division of Operational Planning of the Strategic Management Department of the Ministry of Justice;
Ms. Greta Bruzgienė, assistant of the Chief Prosecutor of the secretariat of the Chief Prosecutor;
Ms. Rūta Kavaliauskienė, assistant of the Chief Prosecutor of the Department for Criminal Prosecution of the Prosecution Service of the Republic of Lithuania;
Ms. Laima Mikiparavičienė, consultant of the Chamber of Notaries;
Ms. Jolanta Samuolytė, lawyer of the Bar association;
Ms. Dovilė Satkauskienė, director at Lithuanian Chamber of Bailiffs;
Ms. Svetlana Kastanauskienė, member of Lithuanian Chamber of Bailiffs, bailiff;
Mr. Laimutė Mangevičienė, chief specialist of the State Governance and Defence Sectors Division of the Budget Department of the Ministry of Finance;
Ms. Nijolė Zaleckienė, Chairperson of the District Court of Trakai Region, judge.
For the CEPEJ:
Mr Ramin Gurbanov (Azerbaidjan) Judge, Baku City District Court, CEPEJ bureau member and member of the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL
Ms. Laetitia Brunin (France), Deputy to the Deputy Director of Statistics and Studies, Ministry of Justice Paris
Mr. Mathieu Chardon (France), First Secretary of the International Union of Judicial Officers (UIHJ)
Ms. Yinka Tempelman (Netherlands), Quality Manager of the Dutch Council for the Judiciary
Ms Christel Schurrer (Council of Europe), Secretary of the Evaluation Group of the CEPEJ
Ms. Lidija Naumovska (Council of Europe), CEPEJ Statistician.
9.30-12.00 Meeting at the National Courts Administration:
9.30-10.00 Short overview about the judicial system of Lithuania, self-governance of courts and role of National Courts Administration by Ernesta Sakalauskienė, head of Legal division of National Courts Administration
10.00-10.15 Presentation on implemented and undergoing projects of National Courts Administration by Linas Petravičius, chief specialist of the Strategic Planning division of National Courts Administration
10.15-10.30 Presentation on electronic services, provided by Lithuanian courts, and courts information system LITEKO by Vaida Keinaitė, deputy head of IT division of National Courts Administration
10.30-12.00 Presentation about the institutions responsible for the collection of statistics on justice system requested by CEPEJ – organization of the collection and transmission of data, sources (Ernesta Sakalauskienė, head of Legal division of National Courts Administration). Discussions on court statistics.
13.30-14.30 Meeting at the Regional Court of Vilnius
15.00-16.00 Meeting at the district court of Vilnius city
9.15-12.00 Meeting at the Ministry of Justice
9.15-9.45 Welcome speech. Presentation on conception of court reform.
9.45-10.15 Presentation on mediation conception.
10.15-10.30 Coffee break.
10.30-12.00 Discussions with persons involved in the collection of data requested by CEPEJ and difficulties: Ministry of Justice, Prosecution Service of the Republic of Lithuania, Bar Association etc.
13.30-14.00 Meeting at the District Court of Trakai Region
The delegation was welcomed by Mr Egidijus Laužikas, Chairperson of the Judicial Council and judge of the Supreme Court of Lithuania, and Ms. Reda Moliene, director of the National Court Administration, who stressed the importance of this mission for Lithuania. They also pointed out the importance of the CEPEJ data in the comparison of different judicial systems.
1. General presentation of the judicial system of Lithuania
The Judicial system of Lithuania was presented by Ms Sakalauskiene, who is the head of Legal division of National Courts Administration and the CEPEJ National Correspondent.
Currently the Lithuanian judicial system is composed as follows:
´ Courts of general jurisdiction:
- 49 district courts (1st instance courts);
- 5 regional courts (2nd instance courts and courts of 1st instance in cases prescribed by law);
- 1 Court of Appeal of Lithuania (2nd instance court);
- 1 Supreme Court of Lithuania (court of cassation).
´ Court of special jurisdiction:
- 5 regional administrative courts (first instance court);
- 1 Supreme administrative court of Lithuania.
The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania also exists, but this court is not considered to be part of the court system.
It should be noted that a judicial reform in Lithuania is planned in the near future and the plan includes joining 49 district courts into 12, and 5 regional administrative courts into 2.
In 2014, 753 judges were working in 62 courts (60,42 percent were women, the average age – 50,2 years):
- 468 judges at district courts;
- 155 judges at regional courts;
- 32 judges at Court of Appeal of Lithuania;
- 34 judges at the Supreme Court of Lithuania;
- 47 judges at regional administrative courts;
- 17 at the Supreme administrative court of Lithuania.
Number of assistants to judges in 2014 was 630.
The Lithuanian authorities have explained that one of the goals is that every judge should have one assistant of judge.
Consequently, at the end of 2015 this number is expected to be increase to 735.
The self-governance of the courts is ensured by the Constitution of Republic of Lithuania and the Law on Courts. These two documents set the basis for independence of the courts’ decisions, its fairness and impartiality from government, political influences and other possible pressures. The self-governance of the Lithuanian courts is safeguarded by setting up the several bodies among which the most relevant are the General Meeting of Judges and the Judicial Council.
The National Courts Administration was established by Law in 2002 as an independent body with mission to provide services to the court and institutions of self-governance of courts ensuring their autonomy as well as the efficiency of the court system, its government and organisation.
2. The courts information system – Liteko (http://www.teismai.lt/en/)
Presentation on the court information system, LITEKO, was made by Ms Vaida Keinaitė, Deputy Head of Information Technology Division. The LITEKO system is the Lithuanian Courts Information System.
The aim of LITEKO is to establish conditions, under which courts in computer-assisted way could collect, systematize and disseminate data regarding the litigations, held in courts, and data, which is necessary for the court activities, judgments and statistics of court activities.
LITECO operates since 2004 as a centralized system for 62 courts and currently for daily work is used by almost 3000 court representatives. The system represents a valuable source for statistical data. Most of the data delivered to CEPEJ evaluation scheme come from the LITEKO system.
The main functions of LITECO are:
- electronically gather information about each case (the parties’ procedural documents, parties and other participants in the proceedings, courts’ procedural documents) on the central database
- on the basis of collected information automatically generate statistical reports of the judges and courts activities;
- enable to perform a search of documents and data necessary for the court proceedings in the information system databases, external databases and registries;
- enable the automatic allocation of cases by computer program, for this allocation evaluating the particular criteria;
- increase the publicity of courts activities, creating instruments for the publication of schedules of court hearings, court decisions;
- provides random allocation of case per judge based on predefined criteria (availability, regional jurisdiction, judge’s specialisation etc)
- provide courts electronic services.
In practice, the specialization of judges is very limited to distinction solely between civil and criminal cases specialists. The specialization in family matters, business cases of intellectual property or public procurement was introduced only recently.
As for now. the categorisation of cases in courts in Lithuania does not allow separating between severe criminal and misdemeanour cases. When cases are categorised in LITEKO the operators select the article of the Law upon which the case is based. It happens that same article sometimes leads to severe criminal case and sometimes to misdemeanour case. For that reason for the moment the system cannot differentiate between these two categories.
A platform allows different players apart of judges and judicial administration to access the system. For example:
- defendant can access his case electronically, follow the development and access documents;
- lawyers can access the system as well and use also the other interconnected public registers like the population register or tax register;
Many procedures are dematerialized and cases can be organised partially or fully electronically. They are even be closed by an electronic signature. To encourage usage of electronic case, reduction the 25% on the court fees was introduced.
The written minutes of the hearings disappeared in civil and administrative matters, in favour of audio recordings. The same process is underway in criminal matters. These recordings are kept for a period that varies from 10 to 30 years depending on the litigation procedure.
This system is constantly evolving and within the project for Modernisation of the Court Information System from 1st July, 2015, the new integrations shall be implemented with:
- Integrated information system for criminal process;
- Register of Administrative offences;
- Centralized court documents management system.
However LITEKO system is also planned to be upgraded during the next year. The changes will take into account the new reform of the judicial system but also include new functionalities. In order to present law cases data with all the modalities of the evaluation scheme categorisation by Law article and also paragraphs in the articled would be useful.
3. The mediation conception
The Conception is aimed at promoting the development of mediation institute in civil, criminal and administrative proceedings. Mediation concept was prepared by three working groups, separately for civil, criminal and administrative cases. Later these three documents were consolidated in one Concept. The document was presented to the Government in January 2015 and approved on 4th February 2015.
Although from the 1st January 2015 the judicial mediation is available in all the courts in civil cases, it is still under development stage. In order to reduce the workload of courts, the mandatory mediation before the courts is proposed to apply in family cases and small claims (less than 1500 EUR). Also judges could direct the parties towards mandatory mediation. In addition, mandatory mediation in civil cases could be applied in those cases where state-guaranteed legal aid is provided. The Conception also establishes the possibility of implementing the mediation in consumer disputes, administrative disputes. The judicial and non judicial mediation could be applied in administrative disputes. The mandatory mediation in criminal proceedings is also recommended, e.g. in cases of private actions. In other cases mediation in criminal proceedings could be applied under certain requirements: with the consent of aggrieved party, suspect, defendant, accused person, in clear circumstances of criminal act, the acceptation of blame of defendant.
The mediation will start in phases: first for civil cases (family cases mostly) than for small claims and then for administrative cases. Consequently the draft law for civil cases is to be prepared first.
The Concept defines that mediation services, provided by the State implemented projects or paid by the State, could be provided only by mediators, who are on the list of mediators. All mediators should meet special requirements (university degree, 40 hours of trainings in mediation, passing the exam, etc.).
According to the Concept the list of mediators is proposed to l be introduced and administered by the State-guaranteed legal aid service, institution that will also appoint mediator to a case (except the judges-mediators, judicial mediation).
Presentation on the implementation of the project in the National Court Administration (NCA) was made by Mr. Linas Petravičius, chief specialist of the Strategic Planning division of National Courts Administration.
Presently there are 14 running projects under NCA with total value of about 81 m EUR. The financial instruments used are national budget, Norwegian financial mechanism, Lithuanian-Swiss Cooperation programme and EU structural funds.
Among these projects, 5 on-going construction projects are completed (with value of about 64 m EUR). According to the authorities of Lithuania, they have used the Guidelines on the organisation and accessibility of court premises adopted by the CEPEJ in 2014 as a basis of reflection.
Various other projects were presented to the CEPEJ experts as such projects concerning:
- e-services (create an information system for court electronic services)
- the modernization of the courts information system (integration and modernization of the existing LITEKO system and providing courts with audio-recording equipment)
- the strengthening of judiciary competences (to enhance public trust in the judicial system)
- the support to witnesses and crime victims during the court procedure
- the implementation of quality management models in National Court Administration and courts.
The Lithuanian judicial system will also undergo reforms in the near future. The draft law is in the parliament procedure and it is expected to be enacted beginning of 2016. The main reasons for this reform are the excessive workload of judges especially in some courts and the uneven distribution of workload among courts.
The reform intends to consolidate the courts and the number of courts will be reduced from 49 to 12 to allow fair share of resources between those courts. The citizens will not be affected by the reform in respect of access to justice since the physical locations of courts will remain and they will only join as legal entities with one management structure (court president). The intention is that judges commute when necessary between two chambers (physical courts) which is expected to balance the workload between courts and consequently improve efficiency. The reform will follow after the reform of the prosecution offices and will follow same geographical distribution of jurisdiction.
5. General analysis of the organisation of the collection and transmission of data concerning Lithuania to the Council of Europe Secretariat of the CEPEJ
Ms Sakalauskiene presented to the CEPEJ peers the different institutions involved in the collection of data. Meetings with representatives of all this institutions were organised and the team had the opportunity to ask a lot of clarifications and receive explanations.
These institutions are:
- the National Courts Administration
- the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania
- the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania
- the Prosecution service of the Republic of Lithuania
- the Lithuanian Bar Association
- the Chamber of Enforcement Agents of Lithuania
- the Chamber of Notaries
For the preparation of statistical forms, the Liteko System is used.
Before the mission an analysis of the statistical data for Lithuania was made in order to understand the situation in Lithuania better but also spot the eventual discrepancies that could be clarified, corrected or explained. For this reason, the team came with numerous questions and it took a lot of time to receive the explanation from the authorities of Lithuania concerning the data. For that reason, the meeting was extremely useful. After in depth discussions, most of the replies were consolidated and validated by the experts.
No major problem was recognised with the data presented by the Lithuanian National Court Administration. Below are some example of clarifications made.
Increased number of criminal cases.
As the graph below shows, the number of incoming, resolved and pending other than criminal cases (civil and commercial litigious cases) in the first instance is stable since 2008.
On the contrary with the civil cases, the number the incoming and resolved cases in criminal law in the first instance are increasing while the number of pending cases is stable.
Looking at the performance indicators over the years one can see that it is constantly close to the optimum with quite short disposition time over the years for the civil cases. The performance indicators for criminal cases is slightly lower than for civil cases while the disposition time goes down but it is still higher than in civil cases.
CR Total of other than criminal cases (Q91)
CR Total criminal cases (Q94)
DT Total of other than criminal cases (Q91)
DT Total criminal cases (Q94)
The increase of the number of criminal cases is explained by the economic crisis but also by the new law on domestic violence that caused significant increase of cases received by the prosecutor in 2012 (5 times as in 2010). According the new law for domestic violence each case must be treated by the prosecution office. Those that fulfil the conditions are then transferred to courts.
Reduction of number of heads of prosecution
A large reduction of the number of heads of prosecution offices from 61 to 14 was noticed between 2012 and 2010. That reduction was explained with the reform in the prosecution system already carried out. The number of prosecution offices was consolidated that resulted in reduction of number of heads to the prosecution offices.
This consolidation will be followed by the foreseen reform in the court system and respective reduction of the number of courts and consequently court presidents. It is expected that after the foreseen court reform, the territorial division of prosecutor’s jurisdiction will overlap with the one of the courts.
Data not available (NA)
In some cases Lithuanian data is NA in CEPEJ evaluation scheme due to the present classification of cases per law article only. This does not allow division of cases as requested by CEPEJ and for that reason the following categories are not available for Lithuania.
- Severe criminal cases
- Misdemeanour cases
It was explained that when cases are categorised per article of the law it happens that same article sometimes leads to severe criminal case and sometimes to misdemeanour case. For that reason further categorisation of cases is needed to allow more detailed statistics for the Lithuanian judicial system and for CEPEJ too. Until this categorisation is available the data for these categories will remain NA.
Calculation of the court budget
Clarification was made in respect of calculation of the court budget and its categories. Presently, the budgets for the new buildings of courts and other IT, training or other project activities were not included in the total budget. The financial data provided was solely the institutions budgets without including projects budgets since the funds were secured via funds, donors etc. It was clarified that in future those funds will be counted in the total budget of the courts.
6. Visit of the Regional Court of Vilnius and the District Court of Vilnius
During the first day of the Regional and District courts of Vilnius that are located in one building were visited. Mr Vytautas Zelianka, Chairperson of the Regional court of Vilnius, hosted the visit in the Regional court of Vilnius while Ms Loreta Braždienė, Chairperson of the District court of Vilnius gave a tour of the courts premises.
Mr. Zelianka described the responsibilities of the court and also presented the functioning of the LITEKO system from a judge’s user perspective.
Each judge including presidents of courts have same access to the system. They can view all the cases and see the workload of each judge. Only the president can trigger distribution of cases to judges which is than randomly made. Adiscussion was made on the difficulty of assessing the weight of a case, and the inability of LITEKO to objectively categorise the difficulty of the case. At this point it is a subjective categorisation initially made by a court clerk that can be later changed by the president. The level of difficulty of a case was considered by the judges as very important criterion for better future distribution of cases as well as analysis of the courts performance.
The delegation also visited the court chambers and learned about the technology of recording used in those chambers. In some chambers the recording is done automatically but in some is done by small recorders operated by the court staff.
7. Visit of the District Court of Trakai Region
The buildings of the Trakai court were visited on the second day. Ms Nijolė Zaleckienė, Chairperson of the District Court of Trakai kindly showed all their premises and described the functioning of this District court. This is one of the courts with high number of cases per judge that is expected to benefit from the future reform. The court president was hoping that this court will remain center in the future reorganisation. Several options are still on the table.
 This process has been initiated by France; the Working Group on evaluation of judicial systems (CEPEJ-GT-EVAL) is entrusted with its implementation and its follow-up.