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Case management – Working session with the Italian judicial service Commission

The Italian Judicial Service Commission - Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura (CSM) had signified a desire to invite the CCJE-GT to hold its meeting in Rome in order to facilitate sharing of experience between the CCJE-GT’s and its own members. It had suggested staging a debate on case management.

The CCJE-GT regarded this proposal to involve the CCJE directly in national debate on feasible improvements in the administration of justice as altogether consistent with the CCJE’s terms of reference which included the task of “providing practical assistance to enable States to comply with Council of Europe standards concerning judges”. The topic of the debate proposed by the CSM moreover corresponded to the subject examined by the CCJE in 2004.

Accordingly, on 12 July 2004, coinciding with its meeting, the CCJE-GT held a half-day joint working session with the Italian magistrates and the members of the 6th Committee of the CSM during which the situation of Italian justice with regard to case management was reviewed with the aim of registering the opinions held in the matter by the CCJE-GT delegations.

The Chair of the 6th Committee, Mr Luigi Berlinguer, and the Vice-Chair, Mr Francesco LO VOI, opened the working session which brought together some fifty persons representing the judicial and academic professions and demonstrated a significant interest on Italian authorities’ part in improving the administration of justice, as well as their readiness to undertake reforms that could increase the efficiency of the courts.

At the invitation of the CSM, Mr Lacabarats presented the summary application procedure in French law, and The Right Honourable Lord Justice Mance presented active court management of cases under the Woolf reforms and according to the rules of civil procedure for England and Wales.

In the discussion which arose from the various presentations, and during the round table which occupied the latter half of the meeting, the participants adverted to the relevant problems of the Italian judicial system which were to blame for the delay in dealing with cases, civil-law cases especially. It was a question both of the current procedural solutions and of the attitudes taken by those administering justice, which affected day-to-day court practice. In order to remedy this state of affairs, the participants identified a number of requisite measures, in particular framing a clear and coherent management policy for courts, suitable distribution of the case-load, creation of judicial bureaux to relieve judges of the duties that could be discharged by their assistants (trainee judges), standing arrangements for the delivery of training in case management, geographical redistribution of courts, reorganisation of hearings (reasonable number of cases, realistic time limits), reduction in the number of hearings per specific case, wider use of information technologies, more frequent recourse to mediation, and State provision of the resources needed for effective administration of justice.

Certain questions, the Italian experts felt, remained open, as for example whether the courts’ administration should be entrusted to management specialists or rather to judges, considering that a court was not an ordinary enterprise, or whether it was advisable to adopt fiscal disincentives to appeal.

The CCJE-GT delegations, like the Italian participants, highly appreciated the exchange of views and saw its outcomes as a significant contribution the substance of the opinion in preparation.

PROGRAMME

MONDAY 12 JULY 2004

3.00 Presentation of the work
- Mr Luigi Berlinguer, Professor, President of the 6th Commission

    - Mr Francesco Lo Voi, Judge, Vice-President of the 6th Commission and rapporteur

3.20 Welcome by Mr Raffaele Sabato, Judge, Court of Naples

3.30 The early settlements of disputes: the urgent procedure in French law

    - Mr Alain Lacabarats, Président de chambre, Court of Appeal of Paris, Chairman of the CCJE

3.50 The organisation of a judge’s work
- Mr Claudio Viazzi, Judge, President of Section, Court of Genova

4.10 Active case management by the court in the Woolf reforms and in the CPR for England and Wales

    - The Right Honourable Lord Justice Mance, Judge, Court of Appeal of England and Wales, Former Chairman of the CCJE

4.30 Procedural instruments to accelerate the civil disputes’ resolution in the Italian system

    - Mr Fabio Massimo Gallo, Judge, President of the Labour Section, Court of Rome

4.50 Case Management in criminal cases – perspectives and limits

    - Mr Vittorio Fanchiotti, Professor of criminal procedure, Law Faculty of the Genova University

5.15 Coffee/tea break

5.30 Round Table (with the intervention of the members of the CSM and other participants)

6.30 Conclusions
- Mr Luigi Scotti, Judge, President of the Court of Rome

7.30 End of the work