Strasbourg, 9 February 2017

CEPEJ-GT-QUAL(2017)2

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EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE

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

21st meeting (Strasbourg, 9 - 10 February 2017)

MEETING REPORT

Report prepared by the Secretariat
Directorate General I – Human Rights and Rule of Law

I.              OPENING OF THE MEETING AND ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA

1.     The Working Group on the Quality of Justice (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL) of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) held its 21st meeting at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on 9 and 10 February 2017. The meeting was chaired by François PAYCHÈRE (Switzerland).

2.     The agenda and the list of participants is appended to this report (Appendices I and II respectively).

II.            COMMUNICATION BY THE CHAIR AND THE SECRETARIAT

3.        The Secretariat said that in 2016 the Plenary Assembly of the CEPEJ had adopted three documents that were the outcome of CEPEJ-GT-QUAL activities (Measuring the quality of justice; Structural measures adopted by some Council of Europe member states to improve the functioning of civil and administrative justice in addition to the effective domestic remedies required by Article 13 of the ECHR; and Cyberjustice guidelines) and said that they had all been well received. The aim for the CEPEJ and its Quality Group was to ensure that the ideas set out in these documents were applied and to identify new avenues of work.

4.     The Secretariat informed the Group members of the programmes of co-operation with member states and partner states, in particular in the southern neighbourhood, being developed by the CEPEJ. It drew attention to the requests made by Slovakia and Latvia for evaluation of their judicial system, recommendations and the monitoring of the recommendations in question.

5.     The Secretariat referred to the continued co-operation with the European Commission for the EU Justice Scoreboard, which had been designed to evaluate the judicial systems of EU member states.

6.     Also with regard to evaluation, emphasis was placed on the development of a new tool for collecting information and on the CEPEJ-STAT dynamic database.

7.     The Secretariat said that the new cycle of the “Crystal Scales of justice” competition was open. It proposed that the Group members publicise the prize and encourage participation.

8.     The Chair provided positive feedback on a mission to Kosovo*[1] (Pristina, 6-8 February 2017) where all of the documents of the Quality Group had been well received. Nevertheless, some parties had difficulty identifying the main thread of the work on the CEPEJ website because of the mass of information it contained. The Secretariat said that the site was to be reviewed in the course of 2017.

III.           REVISION OF THE DEFINITIONS USED BY THE CEPEJ WORKING GROUPS

9.     The Secretariat announced that it planned to set up an ad hoc group comprising a member of each working group and to task it with identifying the key terms and concepts used regularly by the CEPEJ, with a view to harmonising their definition. The CEPEJ member in respect of France, Laëtitia BRUNIN, would head this group, which would hold one meeting in the course of 2017. The document would evolve gradually over time.

10.   The Group appointed Joao ARSENIO DE OLIVEIRA as its member of the ad hoc group.

IV.            Sharing knowledge within the judiciary

11.   Sandra TAAL, Researcher at the Dutch Institute of Public Administration, presented the results of research into the sharing of knowledge “Sharing knowledge on professional practices within judicial institutions” After the general distinction between sharing data and information  and sharing knowledge had been made, only the latter was discussed in detail in the specific context of the judicial system. The problem concerned the creation of “good” conditions for the sharing of knowledge and experience between members of the judiciary (an environment conducive to communication and social, cultural, exchange, etc.; formal and informal meetings). Sharing knowledge was necessarily based on mutual confidence and would make internal communication compatible with judges’ need for independence and play the role of a catalyst in the process for unification of law (an informal tool for harmonising law).

12.   The question of sharing data and information concerning the judiciary, for example the use of “big data” by professional groups assisting judges, would be dealt with in the context of the theme “Access to justice in the digital era”.

V.            Communicating effectively in situations of crisis

13.   François MOLINS, Prosecutor at the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance, talked about his experience of relations between the judiciary and the media in situations of crisis, in particular in the context of terrorism.

14.   Prosecutors’ authority to communicate on procedures that were underway was based on the specific authorisation granted to them by the Code of Criminal Procedure (Article 11) and was also restricted by the main principles of criminal justice (the independence of the judiciary, the effectiveness of investigations, the impartiality of judges, the presumption of innocence, respect for victims, etc.) and the public’s expectations. This exclusive power reflected the need to communicate: to inform, explain, avoid unnecessary polemics, to ensure objectivity, maintain the quality of communication in the face of the constant flow of information and the current need for instant reaction, mainly in the context of events which were out of the ordinary. It allowed the prosecutor’s office to anticipate developments instead of taking corrective action. As prosecutors were in charge of the investigation, they were the only ones in a position to assess what could be said, particularly given that the media war waged by terrorists had led to the need for a very specific form of communication.

15.   Different tools and means had been made available to the Paris Prosecutor for the purposes of communication: a communications manager, a prosecutor employed full-time for this purpose; press releases; press briefings (statement followed by questions and answers). Recourse to social networks had been specifically ruled out after internal discussions, mainly so as not to yield to the pressure of the need for instant news and to have more control over the time spent on communication. Generally speaking, the authority responsible for communications, irrespective of its standing, was obliged to act in compliance with essential principles.

16.   There was no doctrinal definition of a crisis situation. It could, for example, involve public unrest, which required special resources and specific organisation. The Prosecutor’s monopoly of the investigation, including communication, was another feature. The Prosecutor’s Office communicated with the media permanently on the basis of mutual trust. Although shortcomings were inevitable (competing communication from politicians, police and media), statements by the courts continued to carry particular weight in public and the Paris Prosecutor had acquired genuine legitimacy in this field. Judicial communication was now an integral part of its public action and of the strategy for directing the investigation. In addition to crisis situations, in France the “communication” dimension was taken into account at different levels within the judiciary: the appointment by the Ministry of Justice of a spokesperson, communication contact persons in each court of appeal, the increasingly frequent recourse to Twitter accounts, etc.

17.   This statement would be part of the work on the theme “What tools can courts use to communicate with the public?” whose ultimate aim would be to lead to good communication practices with all due respect for the culture and judicial system of each country. A more detailed summary of this statement would be prepared and sent to members of CEPEJ-GT-QUAL.

VI.     How can courts use new technologies and tools to communicate effectively with the media and the public?

18.   The main focus of the presentation by Merethe ECKHARDT, Director of the Danish department responsible for the administration of courts, was the overall communication strategy applied by her department with a view to improving the quality of justice and gaining public confidence.

19.   The tools implemented, the media platforms used, the definition of the message sent out, varied according to the target group (users, lawyers, lay judges, media, political authorities, public decision makers, students, children, etc.). In addition to this scientific approach, communication was being used to increase quality in general by improving transparency and access to justice: the public nature of hearings, summaries of cases made available on Internet sites (courts’ decisions would soon be available in the database currently being prepared), rules on the way judgments were drafted, particularly with regard to the language used, and models of decisions (non-compulsory) all fostered consistency in the case-law of the different courts and consequently the unification of law.

20.   This presentation would be part of a more detailed special summary that would be incorporated into CEPEJ-GT-QUAL’s work on the theme “What tools can courts use to communicate with the public?”

VII.         DISCUSSION OF NEW WORK THEMES FOR 2017-2018

21.   The discussion provided the opportunity to identify six themes for the future work of GT-QUAL and to allocate the preliminary tasks were allocated:

  •  What tools can courts use to communicate with the public?

By the end of March 2017, the Secretariat would: make a summary of the contributions made by François MOLINS and Merethe ECKHARDT, extract information concerning courts’ communication tools from the CEPEJ-STAT database, carry out initial research into national communication strategies with regard to the courts using member states’ websites, find new speakers for the next GT-QUAL meeting, with a view to better identifying the expectations of different groups (journalists, associations of victims/court users). The aim is to prepare a Compendium of practices departing from the normative approach as the cultural dimension of communication makes it difficult to draw up Guidelines.

  • How to share knowledge on professional practices in the judiciary?

Yinka TEMPELMAN would study Sandra TAAL’s presentation in greater detail, in particular from the standpoint of balancing the need for an independent judiciary and the collective practice of sharing knowledge and experience thereby fostering the unification of law. The deadline is set for mid-April.

  •  Access to justice in the digital era  

The Secretariat was tasked with carrying out, by June 2017, an initial outline of the subject, on the basis of a collection of European experiences (the impact of new technologies on access to justice; the digital divide concerning users; other instruments and resources designed to facilitate access to justice; the problem of the use of “big data” for commercial purposes, and market pressure on the judiciary) and an initial bibliography. In this connection, the Secretariat said that the GT-EVAL’s new specialised study, which should be published in October 2018, would concern users of the judicial system.

  •  Electronic systems for managing cases

The Secretariat was tasked with preparing a draft work document by mid-April 2017, based on feedback on the deployment of the “Cyberjustice” guidelines in Albania and Kosovo* (the difference between the ways in which data processing experts and legal experts perceive the question; the development of a tool for experts on mission).

  •  Evaluating the work of judges from the standpoint of quality

By the end of February 2017, Yinka TEMPELMAN would send the Secretariat the name and address of a contact point in the Netherlands (whose system would provide a first avenue to explore). The considerations would focus on the introduction of a quality/competence parameter in the evaluation process based on the CCJE’s opinion on the evaluation of the work of judges and the quality of justice. The possibility of a contribution by a representative of the CCJE at the next GT-QUAL meeting would be considered.

  •   The impact of the quality of legislation on the quality of judicial activities

This theme would be re-discussed at the next GT-QUAL meeting, on the basis of a background paper prepared by Joao DE OLIVEIRA, and examine, in particular, the techniques already applied in Council of Europe member states and on the basis of the CCJE’s opinion on the quality of judicial  decisions, Opinion No. 11 CCJE(2008)5. The analyses would concern two main aspects: impact studies (the preparation of draft legislation, the main principles of drafting and the frequency of amendments) and experimental laws.


APPENDIX I / ANNEXE I

Agenda/Ordre du jour

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

2. Communication by the Chairman and the Secretariat / Communication du Président and du Secrétariat

3. Review of the definitions used by the CEPEJ Working Groups / Révision des définitions utilisées par les Groupes de travail de la CEPEJ

*       Presentation by the Secretariat of the working methodology proposed and appointment of a Group’s member to contribute to this work / Présentation du Secrétariat de la méthodologie de travail proposée and nomination d’un membre du Groupe pour contribuer à ce travail

4. Discussion of new working subjects for 2017 - 2018 / Discussion de nouveaux thèmes de travail pour 2017 – 2018

*       Proposal by each Group’s member and by the Secretariat of possible new working themes for 2017 – 2018 and round-table discussion / Proposition par chaque membre du Groupe and par The Secretariat de possibles nouveaux thèmes de travail pour 2017 – 2018 and tour de table

*       WORKING DOCUMENT / DOCUMENT DE TRAVAIL, Suggestions for working themes for the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL for 2017/ Suggestions de thèmes de travail pour le CEPEJ-GT-QUAL pour 2017, French only

5. Sharing knowledge within the judiciary / Partager les connaissances au sein du pouvoir judiciaire

*       Presentation by Ms Sandra TAAL, resercher within the Dutch Institute for Public Administration of a concept document to be further developed by the Group / Présentation par Mrs Sandra Taal, chercheur au sein de l'Institut néerlandais d'administration publique, d'un document conceptuel qui devrait être ultérieurement développé par le Groupe

*       WORKING DOCUMENT / DOCUMENT DE TRAVAIL, Concept document/Document conceptuel, CEPEJ-GT-QUAL(2017)1

6. Communicating effectively in situation of crisis / Communiquer efficacement dans des situations de crise

*       Presentation by Mr François MOLINS, Head of prosecution service of Paris, and follow-up discussion with the Group’s members with a view to undertaking concrete work on this subject / Présentation par François MOLINS, Procureur de la République près le Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, and discussion avec les membres du Groupe dans le but d’entamer un travail concret sur ce sujet

7. How can courts use new technologies and tools to communicate effectively with the media and the public? / Comment les tribunaux peuvent utiliser des nouveaux instruments and technologies pour communiquer efficacement avec les media and le public ?

*       Presentation by Ms Merethe ECKHARDT, Director within the Danish Courts’ Administration, and follow-up discussion with the Group’s members with a view to undertaking concrete work on this subject / Présentation par Mrs Merethe ECKHARDT, Directrice au sein du Service danois chargé de l’administration des tribunaux, and discussion avec les membres du Groupe dans le but d’entamer un travail concret sur ce sujet

8. Other business / Divers


APPENDIX II / ANNEXE II

MEMBERS / MEMBRES

Nikolina MIŠKOVIĆ, Judge, Commercial Court in Rijeka, CROATIA

Anke EILERS, Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeal, Vorsitzende Richterin am Oberlandesgericht, Köln, GERMANY

Ioannis SYMEONIDIS, Judge, Court of Appeal, Professor at the Law School, University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, GREECE

Fabio BARTOLOMEO,  Director General of the Office of Statistics, Ministry of Justice, Rome, ITALY, excusé/apologised

Joao ARSENIO DE OLIVEIRA, Head of Department, International Affairs Department, Directorate-General for Justice Policy - Ministry of Justice, Lisbon, PORTUGAL

François PAYCHÈRE, Magistrat titulaire de la Cour des Comptes de la République et du Canton de Genève, Genève 3, SUISSE, (Chair of the GT-QUAL / Président du GT-QUAL)

***

SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS/ EXPERTS SCIENTIFIQUES

Gilles ACCOMANDO, Président du Tribunal de Grande Instance d’Avignon, Avignon Cedex 9, FRANCE

Sandra TAAL, PhD Candidate, Montaigne Centre of the Utrecht School of Law, Utrecht, THE NETHERLANDS

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

Merethe ECKHARD, Director of Development, The Danish Court Administration, Centre for Law, Training and Communication, Copenhagen K, DENMARK

***

OTHER PARTICIPANTS / AUTRES PARTICIPANTS

François MOLINS, Procureur de la République près le Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, PARIS

**

OBSERVERS / OBSERVATEURS

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

Jean-Jacques KUSTER, Président de l’Union européenne des Greffiers de Justice, Strasbourg, FRANCE

***

MOROCCO / MAROC

Mhamed AIT OUFLI, Chef de division, Institut Supérieur de la Magistrature

Karim HARROUCHE, Magistrat détaché au Secrétariat Général, Ministère de la Justice et des libertés

Boutaina BENAMOUR, Project Manager au Conseil de l’Europe de Rabat

***

TUNISIA / TUNISIE

Adel BAROUNI, Président du tribunal de première instance de Gabès

Ali GUIGA, Substitut du procureur général près la cour d’appel de Tunis

***

SECRETARIAT

DGI - Human Rights and Rule of Law, Division for the independence and efficiency of justice /

DGI - Droits de l’Homme et Etat de droit, Division pour l’indépendance et l’efficacité de la justice

E-mail: cepej@coe.int

Hanne JUNCHER, Head of the Justice and Legal Co-operation Department / Service de la coopération judiciaire et juridique, e-mail: hanne.juncher@coe.int

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

Yannick MENECEUR, Administrator / Administrateur, Tél. : 33 (0)3 90 21 53 59, e-mail: Yannick.meneceur@coe.int

Guergana LAZAROVA-DECHAUX, Principal Administrative assistant / assistante administrative principale, e-mail: guergana.lazarova-dechaux@coe.int>

Annette SATTEL, Administration et réseaux, Tel: + 33 (0)3 88 41 39 04, e-mail: annette.sattel@coe.int

Emily WALKER, Assistant / Assistante, Tel: + 33 (0)3 90 21 48 39, e-mail: emily.walker@coe.int

***

TRAINEE / STAGIAIRE

Jean Baptiste SAUTY

***

Interpreters / Interprètes

Christopher TYCZKA

Lucie DE BURLET

Grégoire DEVICTOR



1.     This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.