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The CEPEJ contributes to the improvement of lengths of procedures in Europe

By using the SATURN tools for judicial time management developed by the CEPEJ, every court wishing to reduce the length of case management, can easily make an assessment of its own situation and launch projects in view of accelerating the processing of cases. These courts can benefit from the support of a CEPEJ expert.

1. Fifteen points of the SATURN Guidelines

The SATURN guidelines for judicial time management are part of the ‘toolkit’ enabling Courts to proceed the cases which are submitted to them within a reasonable time. The SATURN Centre has put an emphasis on fifteen points of the Guidelines that courts may apply on their own, without having to request additional resources. These points have also been selected because they allow a quick improvement of the length of proceedings of the cases before a court. They may be summarised as follows:

a) Collecting data allowing to measure the time needed to proceed cases, the main steps of the procedure and, thus, to detect possible periods of inactivity.

b) Setting objectives related to the length of proceedings ofr the cases.

c) Continuous analysis of the length of proceedings in pending cases and taking urgent measures when the risk of excessive delay arises.

d) Conclusion of agreements with parties or their representatives regarding the calendar of case processing, followed by a strict respect, imposed by the judge, of the calendar and procedural steps agreed.

2. Steps of the implementation

A Guide describes methodology for the implementation of the SATURN guidelines. The methodology has been developed on the basis of experience collected by the seven CEPEJ pilot courts. It foresees three main steps as follows:

a) Step 1: Evaluation of the implementation of the SATURN guidelines in the daily work of courts

This step consists in verifying whether a court has implemented the SATURN guidelines fully, partially, in a different way or not at all. To facilitate the discussion, translation of the fifteen points into the language of the court in question is necessary as a rule.

b) Step 2: Implementation of the SATURN priorities

When a court identifies one or several guidelines that are not fully implemented, projects can be set up in order to implement these guidelines.

c) Step 3: Reporting

In order for other courts to be able to benefit from the experience made and to for the CEPEJ to improve its tools, it is highly recommended that a report is drawn up in accordance with the plan included in the Guide.

Each interested court may apply the method described above on its own or request support and advice of CEPEJ experts for one or all of these steps.1

3. Two projects already under way in 2012

The District Court of Tirana (Albania) and the Regional Court (Landgericht) of Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany) have applied for the support of a CEPEJ expert. In Tirana, the fifteen guidelines have been discussed and stock has been taken of the degree of their implementation. It is now up to the Court to decide which project should be started as a matter of priority. In Freiburg, the judges expressed the wish to launch a project aimed at identifying the possibilities for formalising the transfer of case files from one judge to another (e.g. in case of resignation) in complex civil cases such as, for example, those concerning faults in the construction of buildings or medical liability.

Jacques Bühler
Deputy Secretary General - Swiss Federal Court
President of the CEPEJ SATURN steering Group for the management of judicial timeframes
and CEPEJ member

1 Such requests should be addressed to the CEPEJ Secretariat at: cepej@coe.int.