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HomeSéparateurFocusSéparateurInstitutionsSéparateurCouncil of EuropeSéparateurParticipation of the UIHJ in the 15th Meeting of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL
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Participation of the UIHJ in the 15th Meeting of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL

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On 3 and 4 April 2014, the UIHJ participated at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in the 15th Meeting of the Working Group on Quality of Justice 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 quality of justice (CEPEJ-GT-QUAL). The enforcement of judgments was on the agenda. The UIHJ was represented at this meeting by its first secretary, Mathieu Chardon.

The CEPEJ-GT-QUAL is instructed to develop means of analyse and evaluation of the work done inside the courts with a view to improving, in the member states, quality of the public service delivered by the justice system, in particular vis-à-vis the expectations of the justice practitioners and the users, according to criteria of performance and efficiency meeting a large consensus.
In order to fulfil its tasks, the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL must in particular, while observing the principle of independence of judges:
-    collect necessary information on evaluation systems of the quality of judicial work existing in the member states;
-    improve tools, indicators and means for measuring the quality of judicial work;
-    draft concrete solutions for the policy makers and for the courts, allowing to remedy dysfunctions in the judicial activity and balance the obligations of the work of judges and its workload with the obligation to provide a justice of quality for the users (Source: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/cooperation/cepej/quality/default_EN.asp )

The meeting was attended by John Stacey, President of the CEPEJ, and Stéphane Leyenberger, Secretary of the CEPEJ. It was chaired by François Paychère (Switzerland), President of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL. Over twenty participants were present: members of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL, scientific experts, guests (Morocco and Tunisia) and the observers, including the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, the European Union of Rechtspfleger, the European Institute of expertise and expert, and the UIHJ.

The agenda was the ongoing work within the Working Group :
- Examination of the guidelines on the organisation and accessibility of court premises;
- The role of experts in the quality of judicial systems;
- Indicators for measuring the quality of justice;
- Cooperation with the EU Agency for fundamental Rights (FRA) on the "Handbook on Access to Justice in Europe";
- Promoting the Guidelines of 17 December 2009 for a better implementation of the existing Council of Europe's recommendation of the on enforcement;
- Update and publication of "Comparative study of the reforms of the judicial maps in Europe”;
- Court coaching on satisfaction surveys;
- Presentation of the project "Aida Correx" (a tool for writing judicial decisions).

Regarding enforcement, President Stacey had prepared a paper on promoting the CEPEJ's Guidelines on enforcement of court decisions adopted on 17 December 2009 by the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe and prepare guidance for policy makers on the powers of enforcement agents and methods of enforcement. This paper recalls that judicial officers have at their disposal guidelines that establish standards on enforcement and enforcement professionals. The CEPEJ “Bureau has agreed that enforcement of judgments, being such a fundamental component of the judicial system, should be revisited within GT-QUAL. Fortunately the UIHJ has been very successful at promoting the guidelines, which they were very instrumental in producing”. To meet the expectations of citizens and businesses, it is essential that these professionals have effective means for enforcing court decisions. The protection of debtors at the same time should be ensured while avoiding undue recourses to paralyse or slow down enforcement.

John Marston, former President of the High Court Enforcement Officers' Association of England and Wales, introduced the debate in his capacity as President of the CEPEJ-GT-EXE Working Group on enforcement that drafted the Guidelines on enforcement. For him, information and communication technology give a new vision of enforcement. The purpose of justice is that judgments are finally enforced. John Marston discussed the genesis of the Guidelines on enforcement, based on the recommendation of 9 September 2009 of the Council of Europe on enforcement. These guidelines led to consider new perspectives but questions remain. With the recession, the issue of debt collection becomes more imperative. What is the most efficient model? How to reduce cost of enforcement while making it more effective? What should enforcement officers' jurisdiction be? How to regulate the profession? John Marston emphasized the need for simple, efficient, transparent and inexpensive procedures. "Litigants go to court because money is owed to them. They want to know the cost of enforcement and have guarantees as to the result" he stated.
 
John Stacey mentioned that without the contribution of John Marston, Leo Netten, President of the UIHJ and Mathieu Chardon, who were part of the Working Group on enforcement, the Guidelines would not have been written. But these guidelines are only the first step. There is a need to go further. There is a need for tools to enforce court decisions. How are judgments enforced? What are the powers of judicial officers? What challenges do they face? How to continue to work on these issues within the CEPEJ? Many systems exist. The Guidelines should work with all of them. What are the enforcement sources available? What are the tools that will help judicial officers to enforce? "The UIHJ probably has information about these tools" inquired the President of the CEPEJ. How are these tools used? What is the protection for litigants?
 
Mathieu Chardon recalled that the important disparities that exist between countries concerning the profession of enforcement agent and enforcement are both a weakness and a strength. A weakness because it difficult to get an overall picture of the profession. A strength because it is possible to feed from these disparities. The Guidelines on enforcement are important because they form a bridge between the disparities and this CEPEJ document which offers a possible harmonisation even beyond the borders of Europe. The first secretary of the UIHJ stated that the objective of the UIHJ is not to impose a model but to identify best practices in order to allow countries to be fully informed. In this context, there is a convergence between the work of the UIJH and those of the CEPEJ. This is why the UIHJ promotes the CEPEJ Guidelines at every opportunity.

Mathieu Chardon mentioned the three main types of work undertaken by the UIHJ around the Guidelines on enforcement. There is first the Grand Questionnaire of the UIHJ on the judicial officer profession and enforcement. 50 member countries of the UIHJ responded to 350 questions that were asked. This questionnaire was used to feed two other types of work. The first concerns the research and identification of best practices in order to provide reference tools, models, standards (Stobra Projects). Seven working groups were formed around the following themes :

1. Attachment on immovable.
2. Service of documents.
3. Transparency of assets.
4. Findings and securing of evidence (statements of facts).
5. Training.
6. Information and communication technology.
7. Debt collection.

At the same time, based on data provided by the Grand Questionnaire, the UIHJ is working on a report on the efficiency of enforcement. In line with the Guidelines on enforcement, the themes in this report are chosen amongst those covered by the CEPEJ document :

1. Preparation of enforcement.
2. Notices to parties and third parties.
3. Enforcement title: definition and form of the title.
4. Enforcement agents.
5. Realisation of enforcement.
6. Costs of enforcement.
7. Timeframes and reports.
8. Supervision, control and disciplinary procedure.

A round table discussion followed during which each participant was able to present the current situation in his/her country. Following the discussion, François Paychère asked that the UIHJ to provide access to its Grand Questionnaire to the members of the CEPEJ and prepare a document on key issues related to enforcement. The CEPEJ will then be in the position to appreciate the opportunity to continue the work of the Working group on enforcement. This point will be on the agenda of the 16th meeting of the CEPEJ-GT-QUAL in September 2014.
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