The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice

Court User satisfaction survey in the Court
of Vrancea, Focsani (Romania)
8–9 December 2011

On 8 and 9 December, 2011, I participated in a meeting aimed to assist the Court of Vrancea (Focsani – Romania) in applying the methodology for conducting satisfaction surveys among court users. Working documents were distributed to the participants prior to the opening of the meeting. The event started in the premises of the said Court. During the two days, I made presentations of the coaching programme and answered the questions raised by the participants. During these two days, the President of the Court, the Vice-President of the Court, several judges and clerks of the Court took the floor.

I introducted myself as Judge of the Court of Turin and Deputy Secretary of the International Association of Judges, and spent few words about my role as member of the “Groupe de pilotage” of the CEPEJ SATURN Centre of the CEPEJ, over the past years. I then informed the assistance about the experience of the “Customer Satisfaction Survey in Turin Courts,” as explained in a report, whose main features I illustrated during the meetings.

In this regard, I informed the participants that:

(b) The initiative draws its origin from the activities of the Working Group on the quality of justice of the CEPEJ (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL). This panel (also on the basis of previous experiences realized at the Court of Geneva) has recently edited a Report on “Conducting Satisfaction Surveys of Court Users in Council of Europe Member States.

(c) A handbook, together with other documents which have been drafted by the same organ, contains also a “Model Questionnaire for Court Users,” which can be used, with the appropriate adjustments, in each and every Judicial Office willing to test the level of satisfaction of people who, for any possible reason, contact such bodies.

During the entire course of the meeting, I wanted to reserve ample time for questions. In particular, the participants were interested to know more about how we had determined the number of people necessary to ensure the fruitfulness of the survey (in Turin’s case 618). In this regard, I replied that the sample was calculated by the Court’s DG of Statistics and I provided Romanian colleagues with the document (in Italian, to be translated by the interpreter of Vrancea Court) prepared by statistical experts explaining why a sample of about 620 people was considered as an optimal one for the enquiry into the Turin Court.

I was also asked to explain why Turin’s questionnaire does not contain questions about what citizens think of the legal system, rather than just investigating the functioning of that particular Court (since very often it is the obstacles posed by the law that produce a disservice rather than the activities, more or less good, of the judge). I replied that this questionnaire has a different purpose: it wants to explore what citizens think about the inner workings of the courthouse, regardless of external factors, such as just the obstacles posed by the law. Actually, whereas judges of the Court have to a certain extent the possibility to improve their performances, they have no say at all on possible legal reforms.

I was also confronted with questions concerning the “Strasburg Programme,” that is the programme on basis of which my Court managed to remarkably reduce backlogs and judicial arrears. I had also to address questions on the day-to-day workload of the Court of Turin, as well as on issues related to case management and relations to lawyers.

Before concluding the meeting, at the invitation of President of the Court, I visited the premises of the Court (dwelling in particular in those of the Registry) thus acquiring knowledge of its functioning. I also appreciated the computerisation of the Court, which enables the users to easily know the status of their case.

Giacomo Oberto
Judge – Court of Turin (Italy)
Deputy Secretary General – International Association of Judges
Member of the “Groupe de pilotage” of the CEPEJ SATURN Centre