On 12 and 13 April the ENCJ organised a scientific conference within the framework of the ENCJ project on Independence and Accountability. The aim of the seminar was firstly to discuss the methodology used to measure the independence and accountability of justice systems, to suggest possible improvements or alternatives, and to discuss the best way to validate the outcomes of this study. Secondly, the discussion focused on the validity of the indicators used for these measurements. A third aim of the seminar was to connect the underlying concepts of, in particular, self-governance of the judiciary with the constitutional position of courts and judges. Around 20 academics from Europe and beyond gathered at the University of Utrecht.
The main conclusion of the seminar were:
- Validation of the answers to the questionnaire: the method of self-evaluation was seen as vulnerable. In a filled-in questionnaire answers were found that were seen as doubtful
- Extension to perceptions of court users: the absence of insight in the views of court users was generally seen as an important omission. More in general, views from outside the judiciary should be solicited.
- Extension to ‘de facto’ independence: it was noted that perceptions are very important, but are an approximation of ‘de facto’ independence.