The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to transform traditional court functioning for the better, as long as high-quality justice and respect for individual rights are at the forefront of changes, says the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)
Launching new guidelines the Commission, which is made up of experts from the 47 Council of Europe member states, has urged governments to invest in cyber justice, offer online access, remote hearings, train justice professionals to work from home, and invest in computer infrastructure.
At the same time, they warned that the speed of change should not threaten basic rights, and stressed that cases involving the most vulnerable, such as the elderly or people with disabilities, should be given prominence, along with cases arising directly from lockdown, such as domestic abuse.
The guidelines were adopted at an ad-hoc meeting held by videoconference on 10 June 2020, and organised in the framework of the Greek Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. They were contained in a "Declaration on lessons learnt and Challenges faced by the judiciary during and after the Covid-19 Pandemic".