The aim of the CEPEJ is to contribute to improving the quality of justice and the efficiency of its functioning in the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe.
"What do you expect from the CEPEJ over the next five years?" This was the question put to European decision makers and members of the judiciary who met at the European Court of Human Rights to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the CEPEJ last December. Amongst the excellent ideas proposed was one of particular note: the CEPEJ as an "aide de camp" to the European Court of Human Rights.
Our Commission would act as a watching and early warning system to identify structural lacuna in judicial systems and anticipate new dysfunctions – potential causes for appeal to the Court on the basis of Article 6 ECHR.
Can we really help the healing process if we are not capable of first producing a reliable diagnosis? Thanks to mechanisms that it has put in place (a regular process of evaluation of the functioning of judicial systems, the SATURN Centre for the study of judicial time management, which is becoming a veritable observatory on judicial timeframes in Europe), the CEPEJ has unparalleled tools giving it a concrete and precise understanding of European judicial systems. This understanding is essential to the improvement of our court systems and, thus, to preventing appeals before the Court of Strasbourg.
The CEPEJ has become a vital reference in the debate on efficiency and quality in European judicial systems. It should be capable of using this credibility and its know how to root its thinking and its work for the sake of the smooth functioning of justice in the 47 member states of the Council of Europe and thus of a better functioning of the protective mechanisms for individual rights and fundamental freedoms.
CEPEJ/ECHR interaction over failure to respect the reasonable time requirement
By the end of 2007, the Court had already found over 10,350 breaches of the Convention, sometimes several in the same judgment. In over 50% of cases, these were violations of Article 6 of the Convention (Right to a fair trial). In 30% of cases, these violations were due to the length of the proceedings at issue.
Of course, not all States are equally concerned by this thorny problem - thorny because it is difficult to resolve from the inside, as some reforms may be unpopular or affect the allocation of budgets among ministries or courts. It is also difficult to solve from the outside when the country does not call on the services of the CEPEJ - and because each country has its own shortcomings, for reasons often stemming from its history.
But is it reasonable to force the Court to rule hundreds of times against the same country for the same reasons? How many violations of Article 6 must the Court find for the States concerned to agree to call on the CEPEJ ? Should consideration not be given to the possibility of urging a State to call on the CEPEJ for help when it has exceeded a certain number of similar violations?
It is for this reason that tribute should be paid to the countries - and they are all too few - that have displayed great open-mindedness by calling on the expertise of the CEPEJ. It is surely not easy to agree to this kind of audit, but it is often when one tries to explain to people who are foreign (to a field or country) the reasons for the existence of certain procedures that one puts a finger on the small faults in the system that, together, build up serious problems. (more...)
File "Timeframes of proceedings"
SATURN (judicial time management) under the aegis of the CEPEJ
Importance of judicial time management
The "Strasbourg Programme" for reducing backlogs and accelerating the processing of civil cases in the Turin Court
The "Strasbourg Programme" is Italy's first attempt to manage court cases in such a way as to bring about a substantial reduction in the backlog of cases and speed up the processing of civil cases. Once it had been established that it was intolerable, in the light of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, for civil cases to take more than three years, the Office of the President of the Turin Court embarked, early in 2001, on a targeted comparative inventory of all cases pending. (more...)
The Programme of Reducing Delays in the Rovaniemi Court of Appeal
Rovaniemi Court of Appeal as a pilot court of CEPEJ is trying to expedite its appeal processing times. On the basis of the proposal of the working group the President of the Court has set concrete timeframes for processing appeals. The timeframe for decision-making in the written procedure is 7 months and in the oral procedure 10 months. In addition is required that there are not more than 60 pending cases older than 12 months at the end of the year. These targets are agreed every year in the budget negotiations between the Court of Appeal and the Ministry of Justice. (more...)
On-going activites: what's new?
Evaluation of judicial systems
CEPEJ formally adopted the 2008 edition of its
"European Judicial Systems – Efficiency and
Quality of Justice" report during its 11th
plenary meeting in Strasbourg on 3rd
July 2008. This report is the only one of its
type and it is the product of a comparative
analysis of quantitative and qualitative data
from 2006 relating to the judicial systems of 45
European states. It will be published (in
English and in French) at the beginning of
October 2008, after consideration by the
Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
Timeframes of proceedings
CEPEJ’s SATURN Centre for judicial time management
produced, in cooperation with the CEPEJ’s network of
pilot courts, a questionnaire defining categories of
cases which all European courts can use, and allowing
concrete information on the length of judicial
proceedings, by the type of case, to be gathered in all
the member states. Intended to become an
observatory on the
length of proceedings in Europe, the SATURN Centre is
preparing, on the basis of this information, guidelines
for time management in courts.
Quality of Justice
During its 11th
plenary meeting (Strasbourg, 2nd-3rd July 2008), the
CEPEJ adopted a
Checklist for the promotion of quality
in judicial systems and in courts. This document can be
regarded as an "introspective tool" allowing
public decision-makers, heads or managers of courts,
judges and judicial practionners to understand their
responsibilities, at their level, in order to improve
the quality of services offered by the court system.
The central goal of this tool consists of helping
judicial systems to collect appropriate information and
to analyse aspects relevant to quality.
Prize "Crystal Scales of Justice"
applications from 15 European countries were received by
the secretariats of the CEPEJ (Council of Europe) and of the
European Judicial Network in civil
and commercial matters (European Commission) who co-organise
this competition, which is designed to reward and
highlight innovative practices contributing to an
improvement in the quality of justice. A jury, composed
of 11 eminent European lawyers, will decide the
recipient of the Crystal
Scales of Justice within the framework of the European
Day for Civil Justice, to be celebrated at the Court of
Appeal of Catania (Italy) on 24th October 2008.
Justice Forum of the European Commission
The President of the CEPEJ, Fausto de Santis, and its Secretary, Stéphane Leyenberger, attended the inauguration of the Justice Forum in Brussels on 30th May 2008. This Forum is intended to develop regular exchanges between legal professionals, to strengthen mutual trust between judicial systems and the effective application of Community instruments. It was created by a European Commission Communication of 4th February 2008. The CEPEJ has been invited to play the role of privileged partner of the Forum as regards the evaluation of judicial systems in European states.
Two publications from "CEPEJ Studies" series will be issued in July 2008:
CEPEJ Studies No4
CEPEJ Studies No5
CEPEJ Studies No6
CEPEJ Studies No7
To book those publications, please send us an e-mail at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
4th meeting of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL
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