Strasbourg, 24 May 2019
25th meeting (Strasbourg, 14-15 March 2019)
Report drafted by the Secretariat
Directorate General I – Human Rights and the Rule of Law
1. 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 25th meeting in Strasbourg on 14 and 15 March 2019. The meeting was chaired by João Arsenio De Oliveira (Portugal).
3. The Chair informed the Working Group of the excellent reception given to the Ethical Charter on the Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Judicial Systems (the Charter), in member states and in the European Union. He said that the Charter had been presented to the European Commission on 18 December 2018 and to the Council of the European Union on 1 March 2019. The representative of the European Commission had said that his institution would follow with great interest the CEPEJ initiatives to disseminate and implement the Charter. He also mentioned the work currently taking place in the European Union, in particular the upcoming adoption of the Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI by a high-level expert group. The guidelines, which would be general in scope, were not restricted to the justice sector alone.
4. Yannick Meneceur, Policy advisor on digital transformation and artificial intelligence, informed the Group of the results of a high-level conference held in Helsinki on 26 and 27 February 2019. AI had become increasingly important for the Council of Europe’s work, as demonstrated not only by the CEPEJ Ethical Charter but also by other work carried out by the Organisation. It was possible that a study on the feasibility of a Framework Convention on AI and its impact on the rule of law, human rights and democracy would be carried out in the near future. Decisions in this connection would most probably be taken at the upcoming ministerial session of the Council of Europe to be held in Helsinki in May 2019.
3. IMPLEMENTING THE Ethical Charter on the use of artificial intelligence in judicial systems and their environment
5. Mr Harold Epineuse (scientific expert, France) and Mr Thierry Ghera (President of the Strasbourg Regional Court) presented the trial carried out in the Regional Court of a tool to draw maximum benefit from the case law relating to compensation litigation, in the light of the CEPEJ Ethical Charter. The implementation arrangements were set out in a memorandum drafted by the French Institute for Advanced Judicial Studies in collaboration with CEPEJ and the University of Strasbourg. Considerable importance had been placed on consulting judges before and after the trial; this had provided feedback on a tool which had been deemed most satisfactory in terms of both its efficiency and its conformity with the Charter. Mr Ghera gave a very detailed analysis of the compatibility of the tool with the principles set out in the Charter and pointed out that opting for this document as a reference framework had been a key factor in the success of the trial.
6. A discussion ensued in which the members of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL said that they would like to extend this type of experiment to other European courts, if possible. In addition, the impact of AI on national judicial systems was also mentioned with several specific examples: in Greece, an independent and multidisciplinary committee comprising 27 members had been set up to study the impact of AI on judicial systems, while in France there were currently discussions taking place on setting up an institution responsible for the certification of algorithms.
7. The Dean of Strasbourg University Law Faculty informed the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL that the Centre on Cyberjustice had been set up in the University and thanked the CEPEJ for supporting this initiative. The Centre was particularly involved in training (offering a Master II course and a university diploma for legal and digital professionals) and research.
8. The Group discussed document CEPEJ-GT-QUAL(2019)1 regarding possible measures to be taken to disseminate and implement the Charter. In view of the importance of the Charter and its impact in member states, the Group considered that all the proposed measures were very important. It decided, however, to set the following order of priorities:
a. The first priority was to turn the Charter into a living instrument and ensure its practical implementation by the different stakeholders: the Group stressed the importance of taking prompt measures to operationalise the principles set out in the Charter for public and private sector players, and confirmed that the possibility of CEPEJ certification of AI instruments should be further explored.
b. The second priority would be to ensure wider dissemination of the Charter: minor changes to the list of activities to be undertaken were proposed and incorporated in the document during the session. The Group placed particular emphasis on the need to draw up a booklet of the Charter for non-specialists and ensure its publication in several European languages. Some CEPEJ-GT-QUAL members said they were prepared to help with the translation of the Charter. The need to disseminate the text to domestic judicial bodies and training institutes was also mentioned.
c. Thirdly, the Group should continue to observe AI developments in European judicial systems.
9. The Working Group adopted document CEPEJ-GT-QUAL (2019)1 and instructed the Secretariat to provide the necessary support for implementing the different measures referred to in the document, in accordance with the priorities set and the instructions given.
4. GOING FURTHER WITH Cyberjustice Guidelines and building USER-CENTRED case management systems
9. At its 24th meeting, the Working Group had tasked Harold Epineuse with presenting a new version of the “Toolkit to support the implementation of the CEPEJ Guidelines on cyberjustice”, including incorporating in the toolkit several documents previously submitted to the Group and addressing the various comments submitted by its members.
10. Mr Epineuse presented the amendments made to the Toolkit since the previous meeting. In the introduction, particular emphasis was placed on the evolving nature of the document, which could little by little be supplemented in the light of the trials carried out as part of the CEPEJ’s co-operation programmes. Other points were also addressed (for example, the issues relating to transition from one case management system to another).
11. The CEPEJ-GT-QUAL expressed its appreciation of the toolkit, and asked Mr Epineuse to highlight, in the introduction, the specific and complementary nature of the various documents comprising the toolkit. The Group approved the document, which could therefore be presented at the next CEPEJ plenary for adoption.
5. Knowledge-sharing as a tool for breaking judges’ isolation and improving their expertise and SOFT SKILLS
12. At its 24th meeting, the Working Group had instructed the Secretariat to present, at its next meeting, a revised version of the study on knowledge-sharing among judges, which took into account the comments and proposals made at the session. The aim was, in particular, to derive operational guidelines from the document and to supplement Part Two with examples of best practices.
13. The members of the Group made several suggestions for improving the document, some of which were of a more stylistic nature (for example, the word “guideline” was preferable to “principle”, the “introduction” part which featured twice in the document should be deleted) and others which were more substantive (in particular, the document needed factual corrections concerning one specific member state; and the importance of knowledge-sharing as a means of putting judges in contact with civil society should be stressed). The EUR, Ioannis Simeonidis (member, Greece) and Gilles Accomando (member, France) undertook to submit their comments and observations to the Secretariat.
14. The Working Group instructed the Secretariat to present a new version of the document, which took into account the observations during the session, at its 26th meeting.
6. IDENTIFYING NEW WORK TOPICS FOR THE GROUP
15. The Chair invited the members, observers and scientific experts to propose new work topics for the Group. A discussion ensued in which many proposals were made. Four topics were chosen with an indication of the person(s) responsible for preparing them (with a brief, 3-4 page presentation note):
a) The quality requirements to be complied with in videoconferencing, with particular focus on pilot trials carried out in certain European countries on “online courts”, bearing in mind that existing documents on the topic should not be duplicated; (person in charge: Harold Epineuse)
b) Ensuring diversity in the recruitment and promotion of judges, with a particular focus on the issue of the “glass ceiling” faced by women judges, and on existing best practices at European level for breaking this ceiling; (persons in charge: the Chair and members of the Secretariat)
c) The central position of court users in judicial proceedings, especially in civil matters: preserving this central position from the beginning of the proceedings and at the hearing, while striking a balance between quality requirements and those of the efficiency of justice; (persons in charge: the Chair and members of the Secretariat)
d) The need to communicate clearly and simply to court users, particularly at the drafting and communication stage of judicial decisions and also prior to that, when drafting legislative instruments; (persons in charge: Merethe Eckhardt (member, Denmark), and Gilles Accomando)
16. The Working Group instructed the Secretariat to monitor the preparation of the presentation notes, which would be submitted at the next CEPEJ-GT-QUAL meeting.
7. REVISION OF THE DEFINITIONS USED BY CEPEJ
17. The Chair reminded the Group that work on the definition of the terms most often used by CEPEJ was being carried out by a dedicated Working Group. At that Working Group’s last meeting, it had been decided to ask the other CEPEJ working groups for their approval of the definitions set out in the document entitled: “Draft CEPEJ glossary” CEPEJ(2018)2PROV8.
18. The Working Group reviewed the various definitions contained in the document. A number of observations were made, in particular in the section relating to judicial experts.
19. The Working Group approved the definitions in its field of competence and instructed the Secretariat to transmit them to the Working group on definitions.
APPENDIX 1: AGENDA
Information du Président, des experts et du Secrétariat
Discussion on the dissemination and implementation of the Charter / Discussion sur la diffusion et mise en œuvre de la Charte ;
Presentation by Mr Thierry Ghera, President of the Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI) of Strasbourg (France) / Présentation de M. Thierry Ghera, Président du Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI) de Strasbourg (France)
Toolkit to support the implementation of the Guidelines on driving changes towards cyberjustice / Boîte à outils pour renforcer la mise en œuvre des Lignes directrices sur la conduite du changement vers la cyberjustice
Presentation by Harold Epineuse (scientific expert, France) / Présentation par Harold Epineuse (expert scientifique, France)
APPENDIX II : LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
MEMBERS / MEMBRES
Gilles ACCOMANDO, Premier Président de la cour d’appel de Pau, FRANCE
Joao ARSENIO DE OLIVEIRA, Head of Department, International Affairs Department, Directorate General for Justice Policy, Ministry of Justice, PORTUGAL (Chair of the GT-QUAL / Président du GT-QUAL)
Nino BAKAKURI, Judge, Supreme Court of Georgia, GEORGIA
Merethe ECKHARD, Director of Development, The Danish Court Administration, Centre for Law, Training and Communication, DENMARK
Anke EILERS, Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeal, Koln, GERMANY
Ramin GURBANOV, Haut fonctionnaire et juge, Ministry of Justice, AZERBAIJAN, (President of the CEPEJ /Président de la CEPEJ): Apologised / Excusé
Ioannis SYMEONIDIS, Judge, Court of Appeal, Professor at the Law School, University of Thessaloniki, GREECE
SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS / EXPERTS SCIENTIFIQUES
Harold EPINEUSE,Chargé de mission, Institut des Hautes Etudes sur la justice, FRANCE
INVITED DELEGATIONS / DELEGATIONS INVITEES
SLOVAK REPUBLIC / REPUBLIQUE SLOVAQUE
Martin MIKUS, Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic
OBSERVERS / OBSERVATEURS
EUROPEAN UNION OF RECHTSPFLEGER AND COURT CLERKS / UNION EUROPEENNE DES GREFFIERS DE JUSTICE (EUR)
Jean-Jacques KUSTER, Président honoraire de l’EUR
EUROPEAN COMMISSION / COMMISSION EUROPEENNE
Gabor MAGYAR, Policy officer, Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, JUST C.1 – Justice policy and rule of law, Brussels, BELGIUM
EUROPEAN EXPERTISE AND EUROPEAN INSTITUTE (EEEI) / INSTITUT EUROPEEN DE L’EXPERTISE ET DE L’EXPERT (EEEI)
Raymond LEMAIRE, Président, Institut européen de l’Expertise et de l’Expert, et Alain NUEE, Président du comité d'Orientation
INTERNATIONAL UNION OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS / UNION INTERNATIONALE DES HUISSIERS DE JUSTICE ET OFFICIERS JUDICIAIRES (UIHJ)
Patrick GIELEN, Conseiller du Président, Huissier de justice
COUNCIL OF THE BARS AND LAW SOCIETIES OF THE EUROPEAN UNION / CONSEIL DES BARREAUX EUROPÉENS(CCBE)
Simone CUOMO, CCBE Senior Legal Advisor
UNIVERSITY OF STRASBOURG, LAW FACULTY / UNIVERSITE DE STRASBOURG, FACULTE DE DROIT
Jeanne-Marie TUFFERY-ANDRIEU, Doyenne
OTHER PARTICIPANTS/AUTRES PARTICIPANTS
TRIBUNAL DE GRANDE INSTANCE DE STRASBOURG, FRANCE
Thierry GHERA, Président
Yannick MENECEUR, Conseiller du Conseil de l’Europe pour la transformation numérique et l’intelligence artificielle / Council of Europe Adviser for Digital Transformation and Artificial Intelligence
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
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: email@example.com
Clementina BARBARO, Secretary of / Secrétaire du CEPEJ-GT-QUAL Tél: +33 3 90 21 55 04, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ioana VOELKEL, Assistant / Assistante, Tél. +33 (0)3 90 21 42 94, e-mail: email@example.com
 Declaration by the Committee of Ministers on the manipulative capabilities of algorithmic processes (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 13 February 2019), available at: