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Strasbourg, 8 April 2019                                                                                       CEPEJ-SATURN(2019)1

EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE

(CEPEJ)

STEERING GROUP OF THE SATURN CENTRE FOR JUDICIAL TIME MANAGEMENT

(CEPEJ-SATURN)

25th meeting

Council of Europe, Palais de l’Europe (Strasbourg), Room 16

3 and 4 April 2019

MEETING REPORT

Report drafted by the Secretariat

Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law


1.             The Steering Group of the SATURN Centre for the study and analysis of judicial time management of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) held its 25th meeting in Strasbourg on 3 and 4 April 2019, with Giacomo OBERTO (Italy) in the chair.

2.             The agenda appears in Appendix I and the list of participants in Appendix II to this report.

1.             Information by the Chair, members of the Group and the Secretariat

3.             The Chair informed the members of the Group of CEPEJ’s various other work underway following its 16th plenary meeting (December 2018) which he attended.

2.             Towards European timeframes for judicial proceedings – Implementation Guide/Co-operation with the Pilot courts

4.             In order to improve the response rate to the previous questionnaire, it had been decided at the last meeting of the Pilot courts (October 2018), to fine-tune the case categories used to collect data about incoming, resolved and pending cases and the age of pending cases.

5.             Consequently, a new questionnaire had been drawn up at the Working Group’s previous meeting (October 2018) and had been sent to the Pilot courts with a request that they collect data on the following categories (duly defined in the questionnaire):

-       Civil liability following a traffic accident,

-       Intellectual property,

-       Medical malpractice (only if dealt with as a case in its own right).

6.             13 courts replied substantively, two replied “Not applicable”.

7.             Marco FABRI (Italy), expert, thanked at this stage those Pilot courts which had made the effort to send in detailed replies to the questionnaire and asked the Secretariat to continue to stress to those which had not yet replied the importance of responding. As at the previous meeting, he wondered about the effectiveness of co-operation as it currently stood with the Pilot courts which, although they attended the annual meetings, rarely responded to requests from the Secretariat or the working groups about the CEPEJ’s tools despite the fact that this is their key role as network members.

8.             The Secretariat was tasked with sending reminders to the courts that had not replied to the questionnaire on the case categories, giving them a new deadline (one additional month) for replying and contacting them personally to understand on a case-by-case basis the reasons why they had not replied (not competent on the issue concerned, change of contact person’s duties, etc.).

Assignment of tasks

Secretariat

Contact individually those Pilot courts that had failed to respond to the questionnaire on case categories in order to understand why and, if necessary, set a new deadline

04/2019

Pilot courts

Reply to the questionnaire if this had not already been done

06/2019

Expert Marco FABRI

Analysis of replies to the questionnaire

15/06/2019

3.             Case-weighting in European courts

9.             The CEPEJ-SATURN warmly thanked the Supreme Court of Israel, and especially Gali AVIV, Director of the Research Division on Israeli Courts, for her invitation to a study visit and a practical workshop on the country’s new case-weighting system and other tools for monitoring the length of on-going court proceedings. This study visit, which had taken place on 19 and 20 February 2019, had been perfectly organised and particularly productive. It had been funded by the South III Programme, a joint CoE/EU programme.

10.          During the workshop, the CEPEJ-SATURN had finalised a questionnaire prepared by Shanee BENKIN (Israel) and Marco FABRI, the two experts responsible for drafting a report on case-weighting, in order to obtain precise information on the case-weighting systems in force or being planned in member states. The CEPEJ Secretariat had sent this questionnaire to the CEPEJ national correspondents via CEPEJ-COLLECT. The Working Group welcomed the number (approximately 30) and quality of the replies already received, despite the very short response time given to the national correspondents, to enable the replies to be considered at this meeting.

11.          This questionnaire comprises 21 questions. 27 States have already replied, with nine indicating that they do not have a case-weighting system and 18 replying that they do. Seven systems are based on the point system (Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Republic of Moldova, Iceland, Italy, and Turkey). Only two states, Austria and Germany, have a time-based system. Mixed systems are used in: Azerbaijan, Denmark (specifying that their system measures the time of non-judge staff), Estonia, Finland, North Macedonia, the Netherlands and Romania. Additional information would be requested from some states in order to gain a better understanding of the nature and type of system they use. It is noted that the final question in the questionnaire (existence of other systems to measure the time or complexity of cases) has generated the highest number of responses. Some national correspondents provided numerous documents describing their systems in detail, which were forwarded to the experts.

12.          As a first step, the Working Group agreed that, in the light of the replies received, the appendix to the document entitled “Case-weighting in European judicial systems” (CEPEJ-SATURN(2017)7) which contains the main examples of national case-weighting systems, should be updated. The link between this document and the experts’ report currently being drafted would be decided at a later date.

13.          The Group then held an exchange of views on the content of its future tool on case-weighting. It emphasized that its scope should first of all be clarified by:

14.          The replies show that, in general, case-weighting systems are based primarily on an examination of time (estimated or actual). This means that the strict definition of “case-weighting system” is a system which measures the time spent on a case. A broader definition of “case-weighting system” also includes an assessment of the complexity of a case by a point-allocation system based on indicators other than the time spent on the case. Following the adoption of this broad definition, the Working Group decided at this stage to retain the current title “case-weighting systems”, without adding “and other alternative methods of assessing case complexity”, but stressed the need to specify in the introduction to the report that it would also cover point-based systems or mixed systems. The scope should also be clearly defined in the document and include precise definitions.

15.          The expert Shanee BENKIN summarised the range of weighting systems in the following table:

1

2

3

Time-based system

Point-based system

Mixed system

Measurement of working time

Estimation of working time

Total number of points for various case-related factors such as:

·         number of files

·         number of pending cases

·         time required to examine a case

·         number of parties

·         number of hearings

Time + other case-related indicators

16.          Some members of the Group noted that the point-based system is also ultimately linked to the concept of the time spent on a case (number of parties, difficulty of the subject, etc.). Accordingly, the time spent on the case is always, directly or indirectly, taken into account in a case-weighting system and time remains the unit used to calculate the “weight” of a case.

17.          The point-based system carries the risk that professionals might not know what to do with a list of cases to which points have been assigned; the time measured or estimated per case seems more meaningful. Nor could it be used to plan budgets or the assignment of judges, for which these points have to be transformed into time and then into money. But the point-based system is more complete because it takes into account the level of complexity of a case.

18.          The CEPEJ-SATURN emphasised the importance of specifying how to approach the subject as it is a topic that is very much “in vogue” and one that is evolving very rapidly. The very definition of a case-weighting system can change over time, in particular because it is not necessarily a matter of national law but of practices specific to the functioning of the courts. It is important for the CEPEJ to undertake a pedagogical approach, even if the option chosen by the CEPEJ might well evolve over time. It would be particularly useful in this context to keep up to date with the latest publications on the subject and with recent national practices. For example, the World Bank has published a report in 2017 which is worth bearing in mind[1]: it defines case-weighting as an assessment of the effort devoted to a case, based essentially on time – exactly like the American system. It is also suggested that the Estonian model, a system combining time estimation and point allocation, already presented at a bilateral CEPEJ meeting in Malta in 2018, should be explored in detail.

19.          The CEPEJ-SATURN also considered the draft table of contents and the draft list of objectives of the future tool as drawn up by the experts.

20.          The EUR pointed out that a weighting system should not be merely a means of forecasting budgets, but should also serve the interests of court users (e.g. setting hearing dates and times). Its representative welcomed the fact that the experts, in their draft, had also taken into account non-judge staff and not only judges.

21.          The Working Group tasked the experts at this stage with conceiving methodological guidelines for setting up a case-weighting system, offering different options depending on the system chosen. The work could conclude with recommendations on how to successfully introduce a case-weighting system.

22.          The CEPEJ-SATURN also wished to consult the CCJE on the content of the tool under development. A specific item concerning the weighting of cases would also be included on the agenda of the next meeting of the Pilot courts.

23.          It also instructed the Secretariat to continue collecting data on this subject, via the CEPEJ-COLLECT questionnaire, and to share the information collected with the experts and the rest of the Working Group. The experts were asked to produce a draft tool by 30 June next.

Assignment of tasks

Secretariat

Continue collecting replies to the questionnaire from those national correspondents who had not yet replied

05/2019

Experts

Preparation of a draft report

30/06/2019

4.             Dashboard for court management

24.          The Working Group instructed the Secretariat to continue collecting information on existing dashboards, which had not been done since the last meeting, and to forward them as soon as possible to Francesco DEPASQUALE (Malta), who is responsible for revising the CEPEJ-SATURN(2017)9 document setting out some relevant items to be found on the dashboards already used in certain European courts.

 

25.          The broad aim of CEPEJ-SATURN’s work on court management dashboards is to produce a common template that would be made available to all European courts, containing guidelines on the data, tables, graphics and indicators that could be included in a dashboard template (on the number of cases per judge or the duration of cases, for example in the light of the discussions held at the Pilot courts meeting), along with a number of examples.

Assignment of tasks

Secretariat

Continue collecting information on existing dashboards

05/2019

Francesco DEPASQUALE

Draw up draft guidelines on the data, tables and graphics that could be included in a dashboard template

09/2019

5.             Managing judicial time regulations for criminal cases under ECHR Articles 5 and 6

26.          The Working group examined a proposed work plan prepared by the expert Jon JOHNSEN (Norway) as a follow-up to the document “Managing time regulations for criminal cases in ECHR Articles 5 and 6” (Document CEPEJ-SATURN(2017)6) – available only in English).

27.          As a first step, a questionnaire, which the expert undertook to draw up for the CEPEJ-SATURN’s next meeting, should be sent to the member states. The replies to the questionnaire could be analysed and the results used to develop a Handbook. In parallel, an expert in new technologies should be involved to eventually put in place an IT tool.

Assignment of tasks

Jon JOHNSEN

Draw up a draft questionnaire

08/2019

Secretariat

Find an IT expert

06/2019

6.             Role of the parties and practitioners in preventing delays in court proceedings

28.          The Secretariat had invited lawyers via the CBBE, which is an observer to the CEPEJ, for an exchange of views on topics such as judicial time agreements between judges and lawyers and how lawyers’ conduct and actions impact the length of court proceedings. However, they declined this invitation, asking for this exchange of views to be postponed until the next CEPEJ-SATURN meeting in October.

29.          The Working Group considered that it would also be useful to look more closely at how the role of other stakeholders – such as experts and probation services – could impact the length of court proceedings.

30.          The EUR referred to the need to take special care of unrepresented parties who might be somewhat lost in a court and unfamiliar with the rules of procedure. In this context, non-judge staff could play a key role.

31.          The CEPEJ-SATURN examined the amendments made to the document on the “Role of parties and practitioners in avoiding or reducing delay in disposal of court proceedings” (CEPEJ-SATURN(2017)8) by Noël ROBOTHAM (Ireland) and Ivana BORZOVA (Czech Republic).

32.          The Group agreed that this document should include an analysis and also proposals for tangible measures to prevent delays.

33.          It was decided to distribute this document to the Pilot courts for consultation, making it clear that at this stage it is still a working document and that it does not yet contain a section on lawyers, which would be added following the discussions with the latter.

Assignment of tasks

Secretariat

Send the revised version of the document to members of the CEPEJ-SATURN and then to the Pilot courts for consultation.

04/2019

7.             CEPEJ co-operation and court-coaching programmes

34.          The Group was informed of the on-going programmes in Albania, Kosovo*[2], Malta and Slovakia.

8.             Updating of Recommendation Rec(86)12 concerning measures to prevent and reduce the excessive workload in the courts

35.          The Secretariat forwarded to the Secretariat of the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) the Summary report compiled by the EUR (Document CEPEJ-SATURN(2018)6) on the basis of a questionnaire on the situation regarding the transfer of tasks from judges to non-judge staff (lawyers, attorneys, etc.).

36.          At its latest meeting (21 and 22 March 2019), the Bureau of the CDCJ had examined this Summary report in connection with the request to update the Recommendation. It had decided to keep this updating as one of the tasks to be carried out by the CDCJ, but not on the list of its priority actions.

37.          The CEPEJ-SATURN decided to keep this item on its agenda and for the time being awaits the decision of the CDCJ on this item at its next plenary meeting in November this year.

9.             Next meeting of the Pilot courts (and of the CEPEJ-SATURN)

38.          The next meeting of the CEPEJ-SATURN is scheduled to take place on 2 and 4 October 2019, in principle in Barcelona (Spain) at the invitation of the Spanish Pilot court, otherwise in Strasbourg.

39.          The next meeting of the Pilot courts would be held on 3 October 2019.

40.          The Secretariat would look at the general list of CEPEJ Pilot courts to highlight those which are particularly active and those which are less so, send them a letter accordingly and contact the CEPEJ members from the countries where the courts are less active, to obtain their support in order to improve co-operation in the future.

41.          The Working Group underlined the importance, for the CEPEJ’s work, of ensuring continued and constructive collaboration with the Pilot courts and deemed that this issue should be rethought by promoting it rather than considering sanctions. Several solutions were put forward:

42.          The agenda of their next meeting should in any case include the following topics:

Assignment of tasks

Secretariat

Revise the list of Pilot courts

Prepare the draft agenda of the next Pilot courts meeting and send it to the Chair of the CEPEJ-SATURN and then to the courts

04/2019

05/2019

Pilot courts

Provide comments on the agenda

06/2019

10.          Other business

43.          The Chair of CEPEJ-SATURN would attend the CEPEJ’s next plenary meeting (13 and 14 June 2019).


Appendix I

 

DRAFT AGENDA / PROJET D’ORDRE DU JOUR

The working documents are available on the CEPEJ collaborative workspace

Les documents de travail sont accessibles sur l’espace collaboratif de la CEPEJ

1.       Opening of the meeting / Ouverture de la réunion

2.      Information by the President, members of the Group and the Secretariat

Information du Président, des membres du Groupe et du Secrétariat

3.      Towards European timeframes for judicial proceedings - Implementation Guide

Vers des délais judiciaires européens - Guide de mise en œuvre

Discussion on the draft document including the replies to the questionnaire / Discussion sur le projet de document y compris les réponses au questionnaire

Reference document/Document de référence

 Towards European Timeframes for Judicial Proceedings – Implementation guide

 Vers des délais judiciaires européens - Guide de mise en oeuvre

CEPEJ(2016)5

4.      Case weighting in European courts

Pondération des affaires dans les tribunaux européens


Discussion on the draft document / Discussion sur le projet de document

Working document/Document de travail

Case weighting in European courts (Discussion paper)/

La pondération des affaires dans les tribunaux européens (Document de discussion)

CEPEJ-SATURN(2017)7rev10

5.      Dashboard[3] for court management

Tableau de bord[4] pour la gestion des tribunaux

Preparation of guidelines on the data, tables and graphics that could be included in a dashboard template / Préparation de lignes directrices qui pourraient figurer dans un modèle de tableau de bord

Working document/Document se travail

Draft Guidelines for a template Dashboard for court management /

Projet de Lignes directrices pour un tableau de bord modèle pour la gestion d’un tribunal

CEPEJ-SATURN(2019)1

[to be prepared / en préparation]

6.      Managing judicial time regulations for criminal cases in ECvHR article 5 and 6

Gestion des règles de temps judiciaire pour les affaires pénales dans les articles 5 et 6 de la CvEDH

Discussion with the scientific expert, Jon T. Johnsen (Norway) on the draft document / Discussion sur le projet de document avec l’expert scientifique, Jon T. Johnsen (Norvège)

Working document/Document de travail

Managing judicial time regulations for criminal cases in ECvHR article 5 and 6

CEPEJ-SATURN(2017)6

[Anglais seulement]

7.      Role of the parties and the practioners in preventing delays in court proceedings

Rôle des parties et des praticiens afin de prévenir les retards dans les procédures judiciaires

Discussion on the draft document / Discussion sur le projet de document

Working document/Document de travail

The role of parties and practitioners in avoiding or reducing delay in disposal of court proceedings

Rôle des parties et des praticiens en matière de prévention ou de réduction

des retards dans les procédures judiciaires

CEPEJ-SATURN(2017)8Rev3

8.       Co-operation programmes

Programmes de coopération

9.       Other items

Divers

Ø  Updating of Recommendation Rec(86)12 concerning measures to prevent and reduce the excessive workload in the courts / Mise à jour de la recommandation Rec(86)12 relative à certaines mesures visant à prévenir et réduire la surcharge de travail des tribunaux

Ø  Preparation of the next Pilot court meeting / Préparation de la prochaine réunion des tribunaux référents

Background document/Document généraL

Report of the 24th meeting of the CEPEJ-SATURN

Rapport de la 24ème réunion du CEPEJ-SATURN

CEPEJ-SATURN(2018)7


Appendix II

List of Participants / Liste des participants

***

MEMBERS / MEMBRES

Ivana BORZOVÁ, Head of Department of Civil Supervision, Ministry of Justice, Vysehradská 16, 128 10 PRAGUE 2, CZECH REPUBLIC

Ivan CRNČEC, Assistant Minister of Justice, Ulica grada Vukovara 49, 10 000 ZAGREB, CROATIA 

Francesco DEPASQUALE, Magistrate, Legal Advisor to the Director General, Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs, 184 St Lucia Street, VALLETTA 1189, MALTA

Vassilis ANDROULAKIS, Judge at the Council of State, ATHENS, GREECE, Apologised / Excusé

Giacomo OBERTO, Magistrat, Tribunal de Grande Instance, via San Francesco d'Assisi 14, 10122 TURIN, ITALIE

Noel RUBOTHAM, Head of Reform and Development, Courts Service, Green Street Courthouse, Halston Street, DUBLIN 7, IRELAND

***

PRESIDENT OF CEPEJ /PRESIDENT DE LA CEPEJ

Ramin GURBANOV, Judge, Baku City Yasamal District Court, Co-ordinator of Judicial Modernisation Project, BAKU

***

Scientific ExpertS / Experts scientifiques

Shanee BENKIN, Scientific expert, Moshav Ein Iron 039, HADERA, ISRAEL

Marco FABRI, Director, Research Institute on Judicial Systems, National Research Council (IRSIG-CNR), Via Zamboni 26, 40126 BOLOGNA, ITALY

Jon T. JOHNSEN, Professor in Law, Faculty of law, University of Oslo, Postboks 6706, St. Olavs plass, 0130 OSLO, Norway

***

INVITED DELEGATION / DELEGATIONS INVITEE

SLOVAK REPUBLIC / REPUBLIQUE SLOVAQUIE

Danka KOVALOVÁ, Director of the analytical Centre, Ministry of Justice, BRATISLAVA

Zuzana SCHURER PIOVARČIOVÁ, Adviser of the Analytical Unit, Ministry of Justice, BRATISLAVA

***

OBSERVERS / OBSERVATEURS

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

Jean-Jacques KUSTER, 24, rue de la Canardière, 67100 Strasbourg, France

Vincent ROCHEFORT, Directeur des services de greffe judiciaires, TGI d’Agen, FRANCE

COUNCIL OF THE BARS AND LAW SOCIETIES OF THE EUROPEAN UNION / CONSEIL DES BARREAUX EUROPÉENS (CCBE) Apologised / Excusé


***

COUNCIL OF EUROPE / CONSEIL DE L’EUROPE

SECRETARIAT

Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law (DGI) 

Division for the Independence and Efficiency of Justice /

Direction générale droits de l’Homme et Etat de droit (DGI)

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

Stéphane LEYENBERGER, Executive Secretary of the CEPEJ / Secrétaire exécutif de la CEPEJ

Muriel DECOT, Co-Secretary of the CEPEJ / Co-Secrétaire de la CEPEJ

Milan NIKOLIC, Administrator / Administrateur

Annette SATTEL, Communication

Ioana VOELKEL, Assistant/Assistante, Secretariat of the CEPEJ / Secrétariat de la CEPEJ

INTERPRETERS / INTERPRETES

Corinne McGEORGE

Julia TANNER

Nicolas GUITTONNEAU



[2]* All references to Kosovo, whether the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nation’s Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.

[3] A dashboard is a set of table and/or graphics (bar charts, pie charts, etc.) to monitor the flow of cases, the allocation of human resources etc.

[4] Un tableau de bord est un ensemble de table et/ou graphique (diagrammes en barre, camemberts, etc.) pour surveiller le flux des affaires, l’allocation des ressources humaines, etc.