European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)

Terms of reference of the Steering group of the

SATURN Centre for judicial time management


1.         Tasks

The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice acts as a Centre for judicial time management (SATURN[1] Centre) aimed at collecting specific information necessary for achieving a sufficiently detailed knowledge of judicial timeframes in the member States enabling them to implement policies aiming to prevent violations of the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time as protected by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Centre shall in particular:

a.                as a European Observatory of judicial timeframes, analyse the quantitative and qualitative situation regarding time management in European courts (case-flow management, timeframes per types of cases, waiting times within proceedings, etc.);

b.              provide member States with tools for knowledge and analysis of case-flows, backlogs and timeframes of judicial proceedings, in particular as regards case weighting and through the setting up of dashboards;

c.                  promote and assess the implementation in the member States and ensure the updating of the SATURN Guidelines for judicial time management and other relevant CEPEJ's tools;

d.      contribute to the implementation of the relevant co-operation programmes.

The Centre is managed through a Steering group, established in accordance with article 7.2.b of Appendix 1 to Resolution Res(2002)12, under the authority of the CEPEJ.

In order to implement the "Strategic plan for the SATURN Centre" (CEPEJ-SATURN(2011)5), the Steering group shall in particular:

·         periodically collect data on procedural times in member States at national and regional level, for all types of proceedings (civil, criminal and administrative) and for all courts (first instance, appeal and supreme courts);

·         verify the completeness and quality of the data collected in order to make improvements;

·         analyse the data collected and collate them with the principles relating to procedural times derived from the case law of the European Court of Human Rights;

·         define guidelines and standards relating to procedural times:

-     for all state organs concerned with justice: legislators, bodies vested with the administration of justice, court managers, judges, prosecutors, police officers;

-     for all types of proceedings (civil, criminal and administrative);

-     for all courts (first instance, appeal and supreme courts);

·         disseminate in member States the guidelines, the standards and the results of analysis of the data collected;

§  promote the use of judicial time management tools, particularly those developed by the SATURN Centre, in all member States to enable them to make their own analysis of the situation regarding judicial timeframes in their courts and apply their own remedies to any excessive procedural delays;

§  undertake within the member States most concerned by questions of procedural delays, and with their agreement, targeted actions to improve their situation (preventive or proactive measures) by implementing judicial time management tools in those countries;

·         rely on appropriate networks allowing the integration in the work and considerations of the judicial community, in particular on the network of pilot courts within the member States, to draw on innovative projects aimed at reducing and adjusting the timeframes operated by courts in member States;

·         organise and implement the court coaching programme (on a volunteer basis) for the effective use of the CEPEJ's tools and guidelines, on the basis of the relevant SATURN Handbook (CEPEJ-SATURN(2011)9).

2.         Composition

The Steering group shall be composed of 6 members of the CEPEJ or experts, as well as possibly 2 deputy members, proposed by member States through the CEPEJ members and appointed by the CEPEJ Bureau, with an in-depth knowledge in the field of judicial timeframes. Their travel and subsistence expenses will be borne by the budget of the Council of Europe.Other experts appointed by the member States might participate in its work, at their own expenses.

The relevant Council of Europe and European Union bodies may be represented on the Steering group without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses.

The non-governmental organisations granted observer status with the CEPEJ may be invited by the Bureau to participate in the work of the Steering group, on a case-by-case basis, if the Bureau considers their attendance relevant for the quality of the work.

3.         Working structures and methods

The Centre will hold 4 meetings (subject to budgetary availability).

In carrying out its terms of reference, the Steering group shall cooperate with the CEPEJ Network of Pilot courts. It will also coordinate its work with other relevant CEPEJ's working groups (namely the CEPEJ-GT-EVAL and the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL).

It may also seek the advice of external experts and have recourse to studies by consultants.

4.         Duration

These terms of reference expire on 31 December 2019.

[1] Study and Analysis of judicial Time Use Research Network.