26 – 29 September 2018, Bucharest, Romania: EUR General Assembly

The European Union of Rechtspfleger Member Organisations met in Bucharest to hold their yearly General Assembly.

The event was hosted by the Romanian Parliament and started with a high-level conference on “the Role of Court Clerks and Rechtspfleger in the Partnership to Strengthen the Rule of Law in the Interest of the Citizen in Europe”.

The Secretary of State for Justice, the Secretary of State for European Affairs, the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice and over a hundred other civil and judicial authorities from Romania and Moldova discussed the central role of non-judge staff in European judicial systems and particularly in Romania.

EUR President Vivien Whyte gave a keynote speech in which he illustrated the importance of public confidence in judicial systems given the current political situation in Europe. Nonjudge staff are an essential element of this trust because of their authenticating role and because of their unique place as an interface between citizens and their courts. In performing these tasks, they protect the rule of
law and democracy. The Rechtspfleger’s specialist skills, their advanced training and their independence are a great asset for any
judicial system. All countries that have introduced this profession have progressively increased their areas of competence, to a
point where they sometimes deal with 80% of cases.

In Romania, the rules governing the profession of Court Clerk is currently being reviewed.
The Secretary of State for Justice stated that Court Clerks were the key to making reforms work and that the development of their status was one of the Ministry’s “permanent goals”.
On the eve of Romania’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Secretary of State for European Affairs spoke about the European project and the principles on which it is based, including Justice. Any vision of the future should be built on these principles and aim at increasing public confidence through reforms that have an impact on their daily lives. He acknowledged the Court Clerks’ essential role in this respect.
Ms Ivana Borzova, representing the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice reminded the audience that 16 Council of Europe Member States have chosen to adopt the Rechtspfleger or a similar model. The diversity of their tasks is increasing and they
have an important role to play in mediation for example.

Mr Alexandru Gheorghies, Member of the Republic of Moldova’s Superior Council of Magistracy and President of the Balti Appeal Court presented the status of Court Clerks in the Republic of Moldova, where they work as a team with Judges and Judicial Assistants.
There is a ratio of one Clerk and one Judicial Assistant per Judge.

Representatives from the Romanian courts insisted on the fact that their courts were seriously understaffed and that it was necessary to develop new tools to measure their workload. They expressed their wish to see the EUR’s proposals on a Rechtspfleger/Greffier for Europe implemented.

The Director of the Romanian National School of Clerks stated that proposals were currently being considered for the transfer of part of the Judges’ motivation work to the Court Clerks. This is now within the hands of the Minister of Justice. The Director insisted on the need not only for legislative changes but also for a substantial increase in recruitment.

Mr Victor Alistar, Member of the Romanian Superior Council of Magistracy insisted on the fact that Court Clerks were not auxiliary personnel no matter what the law said. They are specialists with a high level of skills and knowledge who fill a prestigious position.

The need for teamwork and partnerships with other European countries was mentioned, as was the need to improve working conditions in the Courts. Participants agreed on the Court Clerks’ crucial role and on the respect they should be granted. They regretted that non-judge staff were not mentioned in strategic European Union documents such as the European Justice Scoreboard.

During the event’s statutory part, délégations from Europe, Asia and Africa presented their activity and were able to compare the
evolution of their professions with those of their counterparts. The Board also presented the rich and varied activities they led over the
past year.

Maria Zafirova (Bulgaria) & Roufa Bouchoucha (Tunisia)

On this occasion the EUR welcomed two new Member Organisations: the Association of the Judicial Administration in Bulgaria (Full Member) and the Friendship Association of Tunisian Court Clerks / Rechtspfleger (Associate Member).

The President and all colleagues wish to thank the Romanian Member Organisation CSN Meridian for the event’s flawless organisation and for their warm and generous hospitality.

See you next year in Lisbon!