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/).
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.
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.
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.
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.
A conference – debate was held at the Council of Europe on the occasion of the World Day of Non – Governmental (International) Organizations. Anna RURKA, President of the Conference of INGOs, opened this conference, which focused on “the contribution of (I)NGOs to the work and mandate of the Council of Europe”. Both representatives of the Committee of Ministers and the Secretariat of the Council of Europe stressed the crucial role of the INGOs, representing civil society, who provide indispensable assistance to the work and missions of the Council of Europe. Several INGO speakers at the Council of Europe illustrated this work, which was sometimes done at the cost of great difficulties or even reprisals in their country. The comments and suggestions made during this debate will be forwarded to the Committee of Ministers for a conference to take place in Warsaw on 27 March 2019. The latter had already made a recommendation on the need to strengthen the protection and promotion of the space devoted to civil society in Europe (CM / Rec (2018) 11).
You will find under the following link a short speech by Mrs RURKA on this day: short statement.
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.