The ENCJ in co-operation with the University of Utrecht undertook a pilot study to explore the role of the judiciary in the economy and the need to improve the performance of the judiciary from this perspective in Europe. This provisional version of the report focuses on the volume of cases, their duration and the use of appeal. The countries studied are Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway. These countries were selected to represent different judicial systems, but also the limited availability of data from case registration systems of the courts had to be taken into account. Whilst the study was confined to five countries, it is of wider relevance as the selected countries come from different traditions, and other countries that belong to these traditions can learn from the outcomes.The most comprehensive comparison is possible for commercial cases with financial claims of EUR 1 million and higher.
In 2007-2008 the ENCJ working group on Quality Management studied the various quality activities in the participating countries and the role of the Councils for the Judiciary in these. Furthermore, a register was made of which quality activities are being pursued in which countries. This enables other countries to easily see where further information can be found, thus facilitating the learning from each other's quality activities.
Quality Management and its relation to Transparency and Access to Justice
The general topic to be studied in 2008-2009 was Transparency and Access to Justice. The Report on Quality and Access to Justice 2009 aims to examine quality management in its relation to transparency and access to justice in the various judiciaries participating in the Working Group.
For the purpose of this Report, access to justice is understood in its narrow sense: access to information on the judicial organization and on proceedings. Other aspects of access to justice such as financial and geographical access are dealt with
in the 2009-2010 Report.
The 2009 Register is organised around twelve categories of quality activities identified by the Working Group and contains
brief descriptions of all activities deployed in the participating countries.
Within the triangle of quality management, transparency and access to justice, quality management and transparency can be viewed as instruments to improve/increase access to justice (amongst other goals). The Report is structured as follows. In chapter 2 of the Report, the Working Group will first seek to define and characterise access to justice and transparency. What do we mean by transparency: is this
availability upon request or action by the informer? When speaking of transparency, can we identify different levels of transparency? Another issue discussed in chapter 2 concerns the purposes and effects of transparency. In chapter 3, the Working Group will zoom in on the transparency aspect of certain quality management activities in a number of participating judiciaries. The activities selected for this part of the Report largely correspond to the activities already described in chapter 4 of the 2008 Report. The 2009 Report is meant as a sequel to the 2008 Report and both reports must therefore be read together. Those interested in reading more about the concept of quality in the judiciary, the roles and tasks of the different Councils/Court Administrations as regards quality management, and the different quality management activities deployed in the various participating judiciaries are therefore invited to consult the Working Group's 2008 Report.
In 2009-2010 the working group on Quality and Access to Justice continued the work done in 2008-2009 on Quality and Acces to Justice but in a broad sense, thus including other aspects such as procedural, geographical, financial and physical access.
The Report 2009-2010 describes the specific hindrances to access to justice and their impact on justice. It focuses on the actual situation, the concrete initiatives that have been undertaken, the objectives and impact of such initiatives and the problems which have been faced or which lay ahead. The Report thus describes how the specific hindrances have been or sought to be remedied by the court administrations/councils for justice, taking into consideration also the organisational and financial implication. It also describes actions taken by the court systems, the governments, parliaments and opinion bodies, whether or not upon initiative by the court administrations/councils for justice.
The Register (updated in 2011) contains examples of hindrances to access to justice arranged according to type. One may take up several issues within the scope of "access to justice".
For the Register the Working Group has selected the following 9 topics each subdivided into a number of issues:
· Financial Hindrances
· Geographical Hindrances
· Physical hindrances
· Technological Hindrances
· Psychological Hindrances
· Hindrances to Personal Appearance
· Social Hindrances
· Time Hindrances
· Hindrances to Enforcement
· Treatment of Victims to Crime