For several years, the ENCJ has focused on sharing judicial experience and promoting best practices with a view to increasing the quality and efficiency of justice in Europe. This began with the establishment of a network for the exchange of information amongst Members and Observers. The next step was the formulation of recommendations, guidelines and standards in areas such as judicial independence, ethics, quality management, transparency, and timeliness. In 2012 at the General Assembly the ENCJ established a system whereby it could provide assistance to Councils for the Judiciary in the implementation of its recommendations, guidelines and standards, and in problem solving. The concept is that such assistance will be provided in the form of co-operation in response to a request from the Council concerned.
Principles and criteria for requests for cooperation or assistance
1. The request for co-operation or assistance
a. Requests for co-operation or assistance will be only be accepted from Members or Observers of the ENCJ or from Councils or equivalent bodies of EU potential candidate Member States.
b. Requests for assistance should be made in writing addressed to the President of the ENCJ, and should include a clear written definition of the problem upon which co-operation is sought, and all relevant information and documentation. The requesting party should make clear whether any other Councils or European agencies or organisations have any current engagement in relation to the matters raised by the request.
2. The ENCJ’s consideration of the request
c. Each request for co-operation will be considered and decided upon by the Executive Board of the ENCJ, upon the basis of the following criteria:
1. The ENCJ’s objective is to try to assist where the request for co-operation seeks collaboration with a view to resolving an issue relating to:
(a) the improvement of a judicial system or the attainment of the ENCJ’s recommendations, guidelines and standards and/or
(b) the effective and efficient disposal of judicial business.
2. The ENCJ is not obliged to provide co-operation or assistance in any case. Each case will be considered on its merits.
3. The appointment of representatives to deal with the request
d. The Executive Board will, if it chooses in its discretion to respond to the request, appoint appropriately qualified expert representative(s) from a Member Council or Councils to deal with a particular request.
4. Financing the delivery of the co-operation or assistance
e.Unless other funding is available, the requesting party should say in its request whether it is able to pay the out-of-pocket expenses occasioned by the ENCJ’s response to the request. Such out-of-pocket expenses will comprise travel and subsistence expenses for the representatives appointed to deal with the request, but not any per diem allowances for such persons.
f. If the requesting party is unable to fund the request, it can discuss with the ENCJ’s administration the possibility of funding by the ENCJ itself, the EU, or by pro bono bodies or national Governments. The ENCJ will not respond to any request until appropriate funding is in place.
5. Methods of delivery
g. The ENCJ will decide whether to respond and how to respond to each request for co-operation made. It will inform the requesting party of the procedure and process it proposes to adopt.
h. The requesting party should expect to be responsible for the organisation of any visits in country required as part of the response to the request.
6. Reporting on the outcome of the request
i. The representatives appointed to deal with each request for co-operation will make a report to the President and the Executive Board at the conclusion of its work. The reports will be made available to subsequent meetings of the Steering Committee and of the General Assembly. They will be aimed specifically at assisting the ENCJ to deal with future requests more effectively.
j. The requesting party will also be asked to make a report at the conclusion of the project describing from its perspective how successfully the request was handled.