10 – 12 April 2019, Council of Europe, Strasbourg: Spring Session of the INGO Conference

On the occasion of this session, the INGOs were encouraged to show their commitment to the Council of Europe, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2019. The Council of Europe is currently experiencing a financial and political crisis that is forcing it to adopt restrictive financial measures.

The INGOs thus voted on a resolution to support the Secretary General’s position that States must ensure a sustainable financial base for the Council of Europe and the need for enhanced interaction with civil society:
https://rm.coe.int/conf-ple-2019-res1-fr-l-avenir-du-conseil-de-l-europe-la-societecivil/168093f44f

Continue reading 10 – 12 April 2019, Council of Europe, Strasbourg: Spring Session of the INGO Conference

26 April 2019, Council of Europe, Strasbourg: end of talks on updating Recommendation R(86)12

On 16 September 1986, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation R(86)12 on certain measures aimed at preventing and reducing excessive workload in the courts. This instrument mentioned the German and Austrian Rechtspfleger as a good practice and provided a list of non-judicial tasks from which judges could be released. Thanks to this instrument, the situation has improved. Nevertheless, the judicial systems have evolved, working methods have changed, the economical and political situation has worsened.

In this context, the EUR believes in the need for a new instrument proposing new measures that could prevent and reduce the still excessive workload in court.

Continue reading 26 April 2019, Council of Europe, Strasbourg: end of talks on updating Recommendation R(86)12

10 – 12 April, Trier, Germany: European Law Academy Project for the Training of Court Staff in European Law

As part of the Justice program of the Directorate-General for Justice of the European Commission, the Academy of European Law (ERA), in partnership with the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) and with the support of 23 training institutions from 19 EU Member States (for Austria, the Federal Ministry for the Constitution, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice) presented a pilot project for the training of European judicial officers in European law.

The Austrian organization VDRÖ, a member of the EUR, is involved in this project in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Justice.

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3 – 4 April 2019, Council of Europe, Strasbourg: Meeting of the SATURN Group of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)

The Steering Group of the SATURN Center for Judicial Time Management met in Strasbourg on 3 and 4 April 2019.

Several issues were discussed at this meeting with a view to preparing documents for submission to the plenary assembly:

  • the implementation guide for European judicial deadlines,
  • the weighting of cases in European courts,
  • developing guidelines for a dashboard template for court management,
  • the management of judicial time rules for criminal cases in Articles 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights,
  • the role of parties and practitioners to prevent delays in court proceedings.
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14 – 15 March 2019, Strasbourg: CEPEJ Working Group on Quality

During the meeting, the Group examined tools dedicated to the effective implementation of the principles of the European Ethical Charter for the Use of Artificial Intelligence in National Justice Systems and their Environments (https://rm.coe.int/charte-etique-fr-pour-publication-4-decembre-2018/16808f699b).

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8 March 2019, Brussels: New Meeting with DG Justice

As part of the regular meetings between the EUR and the European Commission’s Directorate General for Justice, Vivien Whyte met on 8 March with Ms. Niovi Ringou, head of the Justice Policy Unit to discuss possible evolutions in the content of the EU Justice Scoreboard.  

Indeed, the Scoreboard presents figures on the efficiency of European justice systems, including the number of judges per 100 000 inhabitants, but does not mention Rechtspfleger or other non-judge staff. In all countries, non-judge staff are essential to the good functioning of courts. Variations in their numbers have a significant impact both in terms of efficiency and quality of justice. Thanks to their unique position close to the citizen, they are also a key element of public confidence. 

In addition, in twelve EU Member States, Rechtspfleger or similar professions relieve judges from part of their workload, allowing them to focus on complex contentious cases. Data on this precious resource, which in some countries (Austria, Poland…) handle 80 % of civil cases, should be included in the Scoreboard to give an objective image of justice systems in the EU. 

President Whyte developed these points again during the meeting and expressed his hope that they will be taken into consideration for the next edition of the EU Justice Scoreboard.

31 January – 1 February 2019, Paris, France: Meeting of the CEPEJ Working Group on Evaluation

The CEPEJ Working Group on Evaluation met in Paris under the presidency of Mr Jasa Vrabek (Slovenia) to prepare the next cycle of evaluation of the European judicial systems. The questionnaire and explanatory note were reviewed in the light of the recent exercise. This work is being led in conjunction with preparations for a CEPEJ glossary by an ad hoc group. EUR President Vivien Whyte made several proposals both on the Report and the definitions.

The Working Group also discussed several cooperation projects with the European Commission.
President Whyte noted that data on Rechtspfleger and other non-judge staff are available and should be included in the analysis of legal systems.

The Secretariat reported on the Peer Review Mission in Andorra led by CEPEJ on 10 and 11 December 2018. The objective of the peer evaluation is « to reinforce the credibility of the data collected in the framework of the evaluation exercise aimed at European judicial systems. It also gives the opportunity to States in which the visits are conducted, to facilitate exchanges of experiences between the national judicial statistics systems, to share good practices and to identify common indicators ». Countries that would wish to participate in such an evaluation are invited to contact the Secretariat.

The Working Group will meet again in September.

3 – 4 December 2018, Counci l of Europe, Strasbourg: 31st CEPEJ Plenary Meeting

The meeting was chaired by Georg STAWA (Austria), President of the CEPEJ, who was completing his four-year term. The CEPEJ thanked him for his decisive action in developing the commission and giving it a leading role in the debate on the functioning of judicial systems in Europe and beyond.

The year 2018 was particularly dense for the CEPEJ in the light of the texts adopted and the publication in October 2018 of the report on “European Judicial Systems – 2018 Edition” which has had wide echoes both among public authorities and professionals of justice than media.

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30 November 2018, Brussels, Belgium: ELRA General Assembly

President Vivien Whyte attended the General Assembly of the European Land Registry Association (ELRA) that took place in Brussels on 30 November 2018.

The event included a very interesting discussion on the nature of land registry data, moderated by Professor Teresa Rodriguez de las Heras of the University Carlos III (Madrid), a représentative from the European Commission and representatives from land registries in Portugal, Ireland and the Netherlands. The intricate nature of land registry data, combining personal and nonpersonal data, gives rise to numerous issues when considering the new GDPR regulation. Free movement of data has to be balanced with lawfulness of data usage. As such, a middle ground needs to be found between an open-data system and a controlled access system, defining a data access model that would give the opportunity to filter.

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