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HomeSéparateurFocusSéparateurInstitutionsSéparateurCouncil of EuropeSéparateurParticipation of the UIHJ at the 15th meeting of the CEPEJ SATURN Centre
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Participation of the UIHJ at the 15th meeting of the CEPEJ SATURN Centre

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On 10 and 11 April 2014, the UIHJ participated at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in the 15th Meeting of the Steering Group of the SATURN Centre for Judicial Time Management of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice

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The UIHJ is a permanent observer member of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice of the Council of Europe (CEPEJ). It participates in its plenary meetings held twice a year. For the first time, the UIHJ was invited to attend a meeting of the working group on judicial time management (CEPEJ SATURN Centre) and thus to integrate this group. The enforcement of court decisions and its duration thereof were discussed. The UIHJ was represented at this meeting by its First Vice-President, Bernard Menut.

The Steering Group of the SATURN Centre for judicial time management met in Strasbourg on 10 and 11 April 2014. The group reviewed the comments and examples of the Guidelines on the management of judicial time and the definition of objectives on judicial delays. Timeframes for enforcing court decisions, even if they register after the issuing of the judge's decision, have an impact on the concept of "reasonable time" repeatedly emphasized by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

The SATURN centre was created in 2007 to collect the necessary information for an understanding of judicial timeframes in the member states of the Council of Europe (currently 47 countries). It is a tool to identify excessive delays and better control the lengthening of court proceedings through appropriate measures.
The SATURN Centre is a European Observatory of judicial timeframes that provides tools to Member States to understand and analyse delays in their respective countries. The centre relies on a network of pilot courts and defines methods of measurement and indicators of judicial time. Through guidelines (link: https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?Ref=CEPEJ%282008%298Rev&Language=lanEnglish&Ver=original&Site=COE&BackColorInternet=eff2fa&BackColorIntranet=eff2fa&BackColorLogged=c1cbe6 ), the SATURN centre works for a reduction in the length of judicial proceedings. Good practices resulting from their application are developed and shared across jurisdictions to be extended. Thus a very detailed document commenting some examples of application of the Guidelines was presented at the session by researcher Marco Fabri from IRSIG (Italy).

The meeting was attended by John Stacey, President of the CEPEJ, and Stéphane Leyenberger, Secretary of the CEPEJ. It was chaired by Jacques Bühler, judge at the Federal Court of Switzerland. More than twenty participants were in attendance: Members of the Steering Group of the SATURN Centre, scientific experts, stakeholders from the programs funded by the European Union in Morocco and Jordan, as well as observers, namely the European Union of Rechtspfleger and the UIHJ.

The agenda concerned the ongoing work within the centre:
- Follow-up of the report EUGMONT and 2011 analysis of the pilot courts replies
- SATURN Guidelines on judicial time management
- Definition of targets for judicial timeframes
- Recent ECtHR case law to the reasonable time criterion
- Statistics of the ECtHR
- Continuous improvement of data collection
- Indicators for measuring the quality of justice (in conjunction with the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL working group)
- Opportunity for updating Recommendation R(86)12 concerning measures to prevent and reduce the excessive workload in the courts
- Promotion and dissemination of SATURN judicial time management tools
- Coaching Programme implemented in some countries (Malta, Poland, Italy, Albania, Morocco, and Turkey)
- CEPEJ SATURN Website pages
- Publication of the second report "Velicogna"

The SATURN guidelines on judicial time management include measuring instruments in Excel table format directly usable by the courts. This simple technique allows courts to transmit information faster for its analysis. In addition, these tools allow data comparison per year within the same court. The measures do not take into account all types of cases which still limit their scope. The now stabilised indicators provide comparison of the achievements of a court and its players, particularly as regards the rate of finished cases, the effectiveness rate, which measures the activity in relation to the number of court staff, or the number of cases per judge.

The EUGMONT monitoring report (monitoring judicial time in pilot courts) and the 2011 analysis of replies showed a significant distortion that exists in the results and relating to a similar type of litigation. These are not directly related to the activities of enforcement agents but rather relate to criminal activities, or divorces.

Defining goals for judicial timeframes appears as a solution for the control thereof. From the excellent report presented by Marco Fabri, it appears that the establishment of an inter-organisational tool relating to timeframe for each procedure is a fundamental step to begin measuring and comparing court achievements of identical kind. But achievements are not the result of a single profession, because like judges, court staff, lawyers, witnesses, prosecutors, police and judicial officers all have a play in mastering procedural timeframes. Therefore team work should be undertaken with fair and achievable goals. According to the UIHJ, such an approach is perfectly applicable to enforcement proceedings even if it does not concern the same actors. Indeed, it is quite surprising that the same enforcement procedure has a very disparate length from one country to another, either because the law is more restrictive or binding here, or because the enforcement agents do not enjoy modern and suitable means there.

The statistics of the ECtHR concerning the length of proceedings in civil and criminal matters (art. 6-1) shows that about one third of cases are declared inadmissible by the Court while the other two thirds are treated by the court. The latter faced for many years considerable difficulties and its rate of finished cases is still low compared to its number of pending cases. That is why it is essential that upstream, important work is done to reduce the processing time in the countries concerned and thus the number of cases filed before the Court. It should be noted that the violation by countries of Article 6-1 are going down from one year to another, which is encouraging. It appears that Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine are among the most sanctioned countries.

The opportunity to update Recommendation R(86)12 concerning measures to prevent and reduce the excessive workload in the courts was raised. This recommendation of 16 September 1986 clearly needs to be revised, as the nature of activities and the workload in the courts has changed significantly. Many non-judicial tasks were added to the work of courts and to the judges in particular. One idea would be to entrust Court Clerks with all or part of these activities so that the judge can fully concentrate on his function, which is to judge, thereby reducing court delays for rendering and issuing judgments.

The SATURN group aims to improve data collection that is transmitted by the courts. For this an educational effort is needed, but also rationalization. Indeed, courts are increasingly being asked to provide data, sometimes redundantly, and the time spent answering these data is not always compensated. The good will of actors in the justice sector is not always enough. These difficulties are also those faced by the UIHJ when collecting information on enforcement in various countries.

The SATURN group embarked on a very interesting and promising coaching programme in certain jurisdictions in the following countries: Albania, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Poland and Turkey. This technique has the advantage of coming closer to the court in order to motivate it to use the tools provided by the SATURN Group. The program seems to give good results and its extension is envisaged but remains constrained by budgetary limitations. Again, the technique used by the SATURN group could be used in the field of enforcement, although this issue is not on the agenda of the working group.
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