In a report, country profiles and an interactive database the Council of Europe’s European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) sets out the main trends in judicial systems in 45 European countries. The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice was set up by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in September 2002 and is today a unique body composed of qualified experts from the 47 member States of the Council of Europe. It develops tools and proposes concrete measures to improve the efficiency and quality of the public service of justice for the benefit of its users. This biennial report highlights some trends concerning judicial systems at European level and beyond. It contains quantified, commented and analyzed data on the functioning of the judicial systems of 45 European States and 3 observer States (Morocco, Israel and Kazakhstan), making it possible to measure the efficiency and quality for each of them.
For the first time, the CEPEJ Evaluation Report contains country profiles which also allow the reader to situate his or her country in relation to other European countries. The data retained for each "country profile" concern, in general, human and financial resources, salaries of judges and prosecutors, qualitative information on their recruitment and promotion, the use of Information Technologies in the judicial systems, as well as the efficiency indicators developed by the CEPEJ (clearance rate and disposition time) and data on the workload of prosecutors and the existence of mediation procedures. The dynamic public database CEPEJ-STAT completes this report by presenting all the quantitative and qualitative data collected by the CEPEJ since 2010 and by making available various dashboards which allow in particular comparative approaches between several countries.
This eighth evaluation report since CEPEJ was established in 2002 shows the following trends in particular:
Regarding the budgets allocated to justice:
- a slight increase between 2010 and 2018: European states spend on average €72 per inhabitant per year on the legal system (i.e. €8 more than in 2016);
- 65% of budgets are allocated to courts (which have seen the highest increase, with 13% between 2016 and 2018), 24% to prosecution authorities and 11% to legal aid;
- a growing trend towards outsourcing certain services;
- the less affluent countries spend proportionately more on their prosecution authorities, while the richer countries invest more in legal aid;
- almost all the countries have put in place a legal aid mechanism for criminal and non-criminal cases to ensure access to justice for all, in accordance with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights and the case law of the Court.
Regarding justice professionals and the courts:
- stability in the number of professional judges (the average being 21 judges per 100 000 inhabitants), with significant contrasts between states, which may be explained by differences in the ways their legal systems are organized or by recourse to non-professional judges or to professional judges sitting only occasionally;
- the feminization of judges and prosecutors is continuing, but the glass ceiling remains firmly in place for managerial positions; states put an emphasis on ensuring a gender balance in judges’ recruitment and promotion procedures; however, the profession of lawyer remains predominantly male; an increase in the number of lawyers, with significant differences between states, with on average 164 lawyers per 100 000 inhabitants;
- a 10% decrease in the number of courts between 2010 and 2018;
- specialization of courts.
Regarding court users:
- an increasing number of states provide specific information to and make adjustments for users, in particular the most vulnerable;
- additional staff and resources should be allocated to improving communication with users;
- human contact and dignified and respectful treatment help to ensure fair decisions and build trust in the justice system.
Regarding information and communication technology (ICT):
- digital technology has become an integral part of the delivery of justice services;
- legal systems with the most resources invest more in ICT;
- in the areas of decision-making support, electronic communication and remote proceedings, the impact of these new tools should be monitored to avoid them affecting the principles of the fairness, impartiality and independence of justice;
- ICT has proven to be a valuable and even essential tool in continuing the work of legal systems in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
Regarding the performance of legal systems:
- second instance courts seem to be the most efficient; the criminal justice system is the most efficient in the three tiers;
- courts are less efficient at first instance and in the administrative law field;
- asylum claims had a significant impact in terms of the number of incoming cases in 2018 in the following seven countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden;
• the reforms undertaken in several countries have affected the perfor