The Guidelines of the CEPEJ for a better implementation of the existing recommendations of the council of Europe on enforcement: a working tool essential for the judicial officers
Mathieu Chardon, judicial officer (France), First Secretary of the International Union of the Judicial Officers (UIHJ)
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to share the pleasure which is that of the International Union of Judicial officers to have been invited to take part in the ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the CEPEJ. This is a great mark of respect and gratitude to our organization and to the profession of judicial officer not only in Europe but also in other parts of the world. Mr Chair, we are honoured.
May I take this opportunity to tell you how much we appreciate the great work done by the CEPEJ during the past decade. I greet the three successive presidents of the CEPEJ: Eberhard Desch, the pioneer, who led the CEPEJ to the path of development, the late Fausto de Santis, who, during his presidency, initiated the CEPEJ guidelines on enforcement and John Stacey, with whom we were able to continue our actions and strengthen the now unwavering links between our two organizations.
In our capacity of permanent observer member, we participate in all plenary meetings. We had the opportunity to participate on several occasions in the work of the CEPEJ. Each time, we were impressed by the quality of meetings, work reports, but also by the spirit of cooperation and openness shared by the representatives of the 47 member states and that of observer members.
There is indeed a specific atmosphere within your Commission. An atmosphere of discussion, dialogue, carefulness, of serenity that can only exist in an assembly focused on a single purpose: to promote the efficiency of justice. It must be said that the 47 member states are assisted by an infallible secretariat that primarily applies to itself the principles of the CEPEJ: the efficiency.
The CEPEJ is the illustration that people can work in harmony on an everyday basis.
Since its inception, it has demonstrated its willingness of openness when it sake the cooperation of legal professions: judges, clerks, judicial officers, lawyers, notaries. This collaboration was valuable for everyone. For the International Union of Judicial officers, it acted as a real catalyst.
The International Union celebrated its 60th anniversary a few days ago in Madrid. Our organization currently has 73 members, including 35 in Europe.
The UIHJ is a member of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is an observer member of UNCITRAL, a permanent observer member of the CEPEJ, an observer member of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, a founding member of the European Law Institute, an observer member of the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa.
The International Union aims to represent its members and international organizations to ensure collaboration with national professional bodies. It provides for the improvement of national procedural law and international treaties. It strives to promote ideas, projects and initiatives to progress and rise of the independent status of the judicial officer.
The UIHJ can be described as very active since our agenda for the last twelve months included no fewer than 109 events including many workshops and seminars that we organized. President Stacey honoured us several times with his presence during our seminars, the most important being the 21st International Congress of judicial officers held in Cape Town in early May 2012. I will come back to this in a moment.
Over the last fifteen years, the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights equally shared four major events for the judicial officers.
In the Hornsby against Greece case of 19 March 1997, the European Court of Human Rights has raised the right to enforcement to the same level as the right to a fair trial under Article 6.1 of the European Convention of Human Rights of 4 November 1950. What recognition for our profession!
The same court, in the Pini and others against Romania case of 22 June 2004, acknowledged that judicial officers work in the interest of the good administration of justice, which makes them an essential element of the rule of law. What recognition for our profession!
On 9 September 2003, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted Recommendation Rec (20013) 17 on enforcement. This text whose inspiration reflects the work of the UIHJ contains guidelines concerning enforcement but also enforcement agents. What recognition for our profession!
Finally, more recently, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted on 17 December 2009, the CEPEJ guidelines for a better implementation of recommendation 17. I will not risk repeating myself. I WILL repeat myself. What recognition for our profession!
I must say that when President de Santis decided to establish the Working Group to develop these guidelines, he asked the International Union to participate as an observer. We quickly set to work, knowing that the result would be exceptional and was called to be a milestone in the history of the profession of judicial officer and enforcement procedures. There would be a before and an after the guidelines on enforcement.
Throughout its 82 items and a glossary - which is a first - the guidelines are a living document, a roadmap for anyone who wants to commit his country on the path of reforms needed to improve the efficiency of its judicial system.
I mentioned a few minutes ago the Congress of the UIHJ in Cape Town. Its theme was “The Judicial Officer of the 21st Century”. This judicial officer is precisely that of the CEPEJ guidelines. It is around the guidelines that we have articulated our work. The participation of the UIHJ in the development of the guidelines allowed us to be fully in phase with the result.
The CEPEJ guidelines are also those of the UIHJ. Can there be a better example of a perfect collaboration between our two institutions? The guidelines are a model. The guidelines are THE model.
I would like to carry on and give you two other concrete examples of the impact of this fundamental text. The first example concerns the Grand questionnaire of the UIHJ that was presented during a previous plenary meeting. The UIHJ has prepared 350 questions that were sent to all members of the UIHJ. To date more than 50 countries responded and the results are available on the Internet.
In the light of the CEPEJ reports on the efficiency of judicial systems, we decided to publish a report that will examine the efficiency of the profession of judicial officer and civil enforcement procedures, mainly based on the information contained in our Grand questionnaire. And we have taken as a structure to present our work that of the guidelines.
A final – maybe striking – example. In the South Programme funded by the European Union and implemented by the Council of Europe, the CEPEJ has visited Morocco in June 2012. The service of documents was described as problematic by all players of the Moroccan judiciary. The expertise of the UIHJ was requested by the CEPEJ in a second mission early November 2012. The mission visited several representatives of the Judiciary including the National Order of Moroccan judicial officers, which represents the profession at national and is a member of our organization.
The first vice-president of the organization, responsible for international affairs, was ecstatic about the CEPEJ guidelines. Here are his remarks before the representatives of the CEPEJ.
"This is a model for us. This document is extraordinary. It has everything and it is truly universal. It can be implemented in Europe but it can also be implemented in Morocco and around the world". Do you see the document on the screen? This is actually the CEPEJ guidelines translated into Arabic by the National Order of Judicial Officers of Morocco. What more can be said?
You may know about this. We regularly publish the scientific review of the UIHJ: Juris-Union. In February 2011, issue number 5 of Juris-Union concerned the guidelines with the title: "The CEPEJ Guidelines on enforcement: a model for the world?" For sure the question mark was not necessary.
The UIHJ looks forward to continuing its collaboration with the CEPEJ, thank you for your attention and wish you a great 10th anniversary of this noble institution that, indeed, and without a shadow of a question mark, is also a model for the world.