23rd Conference of European Ministers of Justice

8-9 June 2000, London (United Kingdom)

Resolution No 1 "Delivering justice in the 21st century"

THE MINISTERS participating in the 23rd Conference of European Ministers of Justice (London, 2000),
Having discussed the topic of delivering justice in the 21st century, in particular, as regards ways of avoiding delays, modern ways of delivering legal advice and modernising the courts, on the basis of the Report prepared by the Lord Chancellor on behalf of the United Kingdom and the other information presented to the Conference;
Having regard to the Report on cost-effective measures taken by States to increase the efficiency of justice, prepared by the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ), in consultation with the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), following the recommendation made by the European Ministers of Justice at their 20th Conference (Budapest, 1996);
Bearing in mind the requirements of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the relevant international legal instruments drawn up within the Council of Europe in the field of the efficiency and fairness of justice and the necessity of their proper implementation;
Recalling the results achieved during the multilateral and bilateral legal co-operation activities carried out by the Council of Europe and its member States and convinced of the need for these results to be properly followed up through concrete legislative or other proposals aiming at improving the functioning of the judicial system;
Having regard to the decisions of the Committee of Ministers concerning the monitoring procedure on questions relating to the functioning of the judicial system;
Recognising that fair, efficient and accessible legal systems underpin and strengthen the Rule of Law, on which European democracies rest;
Aware that development of trade and industry is likewise dependent on confidence in the fairness, efficiency and accessibility of the legal systems in countries seeking to attract inward investment;
Recognising that the Rule of Law principle can be a reality only if citizens have an effective right in practice to enforce their legal rights and challenge unlawful acts;
Recognising that delay in legal proceedings represents a significant obstacle to the achievement of justice;
Recognising that availability of legal advice and assistance in appropriate cases is a key component of access to justice;
Recognising the need to make continuous efforts to bring justice closer to citizens and improve the efficiency and the functioning of judicial proceedings, while taking into account the specific needs of each jurisdiction;
Agreeing that access to justice should not be impaired by high legal costs;
Reaffirming the need for all persons to have an effective access to justice and for States to find cost-effective methods to provide such access to justice;
Conscious of the need to make full use of all appropriate modern technologies to facilitate access to justice, to improve the efficiency and the functioning of the judicial system, to reduce the costs of justice and to extend the service provided;
AGREE that a successful strategy to improve the efficiency and the functioning of the judicial systems in Europe requires a firm commitment by States to work together in order to find solutions to their common problems;
DECIDE to take all necessary measures at a national and international level to improve the efficiency and the functioning of the judicial systems, by reducing delays, exploring alternative ways of delivering legal advice and assistance, as well as increasing the use of information technology (IT) systems in the administration and functioning of justice,
INVITE THE COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS
1. to give high priority to the work in the field of justice and to instruct the relevant bodies within the Council of Europe, notably the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) and the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) to consider, in their respective fields of competence, measures, in particular those indicated in this Resolution, aimed at promoting a culture of respect for law, justice and democracy, and promoting citizens’ awareness of their individual rights and responsibilities, by ensuring that, in all member States, legal rights are given effect in practice, and guaranteeing that all citizens have effective access to justice.  Such measures should in particular be aimed at:

2. to instruct the European Committee on legal Co-operation (CDCJ) and the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) to consider:

3. to instruct the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ), in consultation with the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), to prepare an appropriate legal instrument or instruments aimed at promoting efficiency of justice throughout Europe by:

(i) to examine the results achieved by the different legal systems in the light of those principles by using, amongst other things, common statistical criteria and means of evaluation,
(ii) to implement the international legal instruments concerning efficiency and fairness of justice,
(iii) having regard to the specific needs of the country concerned, to identify concrete ways to improve the functioning of their judicial systems;
4. to instruct the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) to prepare an action plan aiming at assisting States in setting up or reforming their national system of legal advice and assistance or developing alternatives to legal advice and assistance;
5. to instruct the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ), in consultation with the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), as appropriate, and in co-operation with other international institutions, in particular the European Union:

6. to instruct the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) and the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) to report to a future Conference of European Ministers of Justice on the progress made by States to improve the efficiency and the functioning of justice, to set up modern ways of delivering legal advice and assistance and to modernise their courts.