Mr. Peimane Ghaleh-Marzban, Director of French Judicial Services, received Vivien Whyte, President, and Franck Le Guern, Secretary General, on 24 June.
During this meeting, our representatives presented the proposals of the EUR as contained in the White Paper for a Rechtspfleger/Greffier for Europe and their declination for France: a jurisdictional Greffier pertaining to category A. The discussions first focused on the nature of the tasks performed by Rechtspfleger and similar professions in Europe, as well as on the modalities of their transfer.
(CEPEJ) held its 32nd plenary meeting on 13 and 14 June 2019. Mr Ramin Gurbanov (Azerbaijan) chaired it. During this meeting, an exchange of views between the President of the European Court of Human Rights, Mr Sicilianos, his fellow judges and the members of the CEPEJ highlighted the possible interactions between the Court and the CEPEJ on the indicators that can be used to evaluate the efficiency and quality of justice.
The chairmen of the various CEPEJ working groups (Evaluation – Quality – Mediation – Saturn) presented their activities and the planned work, which the CEPEJ took note of. The CEPEJ adopted the “European Handbook for the Development of National Laws on Mediation”, the “Guidelines for the Design and Monitoring of Mediators Training Programs” and the “Toolkit for the Implementation of the Guidelines on Cyberjustice” (available at https://www.coe.int/en/web/cepej/).
Vivien Whyte had the honour and the pleasure of representing our organization again at the annual congress of EUR Member Organisation Colegio Nacional de Letrados de la Administracion de Justicia, that met this year in Madrid in the presence of the national, regional and local judicial and policital authorities, as well as over three hundred colleagues.
During the closing session chaired by Mr. Juan José González Rivas, President of the Constitutional Court, Vivien Whyte congratulated the Colegio on its 75th anniversary and assured them of the support of the Court Clerks and Rechtspfleger of all the countries represented within the EUR in its fair and necessary fight for a remuneration equivalent to that of the other superior legal professions and which is up to their very important responsibilities.
France currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and wishes to “provide answers to new challenges to Human Rights and the rule of law”, notably by improving the functioning of justice.
On 3 June, Vivien Whyte and Jean-Jacques Kuster met with Mr Jean-Baptiste Mattei, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the Council of Europe at the headquarters of the French delegation in Strasbourg to present to him the proposals of the EUR. Our representatives gave Mr Mattei a copy of the White Paper for a Rechtspfleger/Greffier for Europe and explained to him the essential role of the Rechtspfleger and other non-judge staff in the functioning of the judicial systems and thus in the preservation of the rule of law in Europe.
In this context, updating Recommendation R (86) 12 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe was discussed, the EUR inviting France to seize this opportunity to revise this particularly useful instrument for the Member States in proposing concrete measures to reduce the overburdening of the courts, in particular by shifting tasks from the judge to other professions such as the Rechtspfleger.
Ambassador Mattei noted with us that the list of transferable tasks listed in the appendix to the Recommendation was outdated and took note of our proposals.
On 24 May, President Vivien Whyte represented the EUR at the 27th General Assembly of the European Land Registry Association at Scotland House in Brussels.
This event brought together the 33 member countries of the Association as well as representatives of various institutions such as the European Commission, the European External Action Service and the Centre for Notarial Studies of the Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra.
On 15 May 2019, President Vivien Whyte met Mr Marcel Haag, Director in charge of the European Semester and Mr Julien Mousnier, Head of the Citizens ‘Rights and Consumers’ Rights and Rule of Law Unit of the Secretariat General of the European Commission.
This meeting is part of EUR’s effort to give visibility to Rechtspfleger and other non-judge staff in the operational documents of the European Union. Indeed, these professions are essential to the functioning of the courts and thus of the economy. They also ensure a fundamental role as a link between citizens and their justice, strengthening public confidence in its institutions and thereby respect for the rule of law. In addition, in twelve Member States of the European Union, Rechtspfleger and similar professions relieve judges of a significant part of their work. By taking independent decisions in a variety of areas, they allow judges to focus on the most complex litigious cases.
The EUR was invited to participate as an observer to the 5th meeting of the working group on Mediation (CEPEJ-GT-MED) on 6 and 7 May in Paris. This group works on the promotion of mediation by creating documents that will be available to COE Member States. They will help them to write legislative corpus on mediation and offer a tool kit to set it up. The creation of a European convention on mediation is also a work in progress. During these 2 days of work, among all the topics discussed, were the questions of the excessive commercialization of mediation, its cost, the risk of over-regulating it, but also the training of its various actors.
The second workshop in Malta was held on 2 and 3 May 2019. We met many stakeholders, directors and deputy registrars who were able to tell us more about the Human Resources issues, many judges and magistrates, as well as lawyers with whom we exchanged ideas about different ways to tackle the backlog and reduce the disposition time. Our second report is on its way, before our next meeting in Malta on 25 and 26 June.
In the meantime, we visited Slovenia’s Supreme Court (see picture) in Ljubljana on 3 June, on the invitation of one of its judges, Ms Nina Betteto. There we were given precious information about how Slovenia created a data warehouse and useful dashboards in order to solve similar problems. They also changed the Human Resources approach and reached what seems to be a satisfying level of good relationship between Judge and nonjudge staff. Furthermore, they were able to explain the many benefits of having Rechtspfleger. Their example was very inspiring.
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.
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.