Enhancing the performance of the justice system for better service delivery is a complex undertaking.
This section comprises information on:
Enforcement of Judgments
Measuring the performance of the various elements of the justice sector is a prerequisite for effectively managing their performance. It is also crucial for any justice reform initiative. Empirical research and court statistics are key in this context. Benchmarks and comparative data are invaluable tools for justice reform practitioners working on evaluations.
International Framework for Court Excellence
In 2008, an International Consortium consisting of groups and organizations from Europe, Asia, Australia, and the United States developed this International Framework for Court Excellence. The goal of the Consortium’s effort has been the development of a framework of values, concepts, and tools by which courts worldwide can voluntarily assess and improve the quality of justice and court administration they deliver.
The Framework represents a resource for assessing a court’s performance against seven detailed areas of court excellence and provides guidance for courts intending to improve their performance. It provides a model methodology for continuous evaluation and improvement that is specifically designed for use by courts. It builds upon a range of recognized organizational improvement methodologies while reflecting the special needs and issues that courts face. The Framework incorporates guidance on standard performance measures, but more importantly it provides a path for improvement in the quality of court performance. Unlike many existing initiatives employed by courts throughout the world to measure or improve specific areas of a court’s activities or services, the Framework tries to take a holistic approach to court performance. It represents a process for a whole-court approach to achieving court excellence rather than simply presenting a limited range of performance measures directed to limited aspects of court activity.
The document is available at:
Monitoring and Evaluating Court Performance for Management Purposes (CEPEJ)
Monitoring and evaluating the performance of a court system for management purposes is an approach that has been on the rise in Europe. Based on cross-country quantitative data from 45 countries across Europe and Central Asia and more in-depth insights from six countries in particular (France, Italy, Netherlands, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia) a 2008 comparative study by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) looks into how these approaches have evolved in these countries and what initial lessons can be learned from them. Particular attention is given to the questions who monitors and evaluates, what is monitored and evaluated, how this is done, and what are the trends and problematic issues.
back to top
Court delay is the most common symptom of malfunctions within the justice system.
CEPEJ - Time Management in Justice Systems of the Nordic Countries
Improving time management in the justice system is one of the responses to court delay by justice reform projects worldwide. In 2006, the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) has published a report summarizing approaches to and experiences with time management in the justice systems of Northern Europe. Part one - time management in Nordic courts: Review of proposals and policies aimed at reducing timeframes in courts - describes and analyzes the use and setting of timeframes in the Nordic countries with special focus on time frames for priority cases. It also provides a typology of deadlines. It then turns to time management strategies with emphasis on court leadership and pre-trial conferences and addresses numerous other approaches undertaken in these countries to improve time management in the courts. Part two deals mainly with approaches to fighting delays in the Norwegian criminal justice system. The study separates processing time into two major components - action time and standstill time and made an in depth study of them. Action time is the time spent when someone works on the case. Standstill time is the time when nothing happens. The study has a distinct focus on standstill time.Link to Word Document
CEPEJ - Compendium of Best Practices for Judicial Time Management
How do courts go concretely about improving their time management? This compendium published in 2006 by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) is a collection of concise but detailed information about policies and practices that have been concretely undertaken in courts, as described by the CEPEJ Network of Pilot Courts in 46 European and Central Asian countries, or that have been recommended by the Council of Europe in order to improve time management in the courts. The compendium is structured around the key concept of optimum and foreseeable timeframes. Under the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, we have become accustomed to referring to the concept of reasonable time as provided for in Article 6.1 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Yet this standard is a lower limit (which draws the border line between the violation and non-violation of the Convention) and should not be considered as an adequate outcome where it is achieved. Therefore the goal must be the timeliness of judicial proceedings, which means cases are managed and then disposed in due time, without undue delays. In order to do that, courts and policy makers need a tool to measure if cases are disposed in due time, to quantify delays, and to assess if the policies and practices undertaken are functional and consistent to the general objective of timeliness case processing. Timeframes are this tool. This compendium is a starting point for collecting good practices and will be constantly updated and improved.Link to Word Document
CEPEJ - Court Delay in Europe and Central Asia
In 2006, the Council of Europe's European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) published a report on court delay in 46 European and Central Asian countries. The findings are based on the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights on Article 6 of the European Human Rights Convention ("Right to a Fair Trial within Reasonable Time") and interviews with instances in the Council of Europe familiar with these cases.
First, the report identifies which timeframes are reasonable and which ones are not for certain types of cases. In other words, this part of the report analyzes the European Court of Human Rights' approach to and criteria for court delay. It also provides some benchmarks for excessive and non-excessive timeframes.
Second, the study maps the reasons for court delay based on the hundreds and hundreds of cases decided by the Court on this issue as well as additional information by the Council of Europe, which follows up on these judgments and evaluates national reforms undertaken to address this issue. The report maps the reasons for court delay providing concrete examples and national reform approaches. It distinguishes between external reasons for delays, delays common to all types of proceedings, and delays in civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings.
Third, the report contains a number of useful tables, which make the findings in different cases comparable and provide for some interesting benchmarks in terms of court delay.
Link to Word Document
CEPEJ - Checklist of Indicators for the Analysis of Lengths of Proceedings in the Justice System
The Council of Europe's European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) has adopted a checklist in 2005 regarding time management in the courts. It is aimed at helping to collect appropriate information and to analyze relevant aspects of the duration of judicial proceedings in order to reduce undue delays, ensure effectiveness of the proceedings and provide necessary transparency for the users of the court system.
CEPEJ - Practical Ways of Combating Delays in the Justice System, Excessive Workloads of Judges and Case Backlogs
The Council of Europe's European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) published a report in 2005 about practical ways of combating court delay, excessive workloads of judges, and case backlogs. The report presents lessons from the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Austria.
Reforming Civil Justice Systems: Trends from Industrialized Countries
Civil justice reform efforts in industrial countries face common problems in increasing access to justice and reducing costs and delays. These efforts also confront a common obstacle —the legal profession’s interest in the status quo. This PREM Note published in 2000 summarizes trends in OECD countries.
The Processing of Each Case Within an Optimum and Foreseeable Timeframe (Council of Europe)
This framework program developed by the Council of Europe’s European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) summarized causes of court delay, defines the basic principles to consider, and defines lines of action to reduce court delay.
back to top
Case management is the way cases flow through the entire court system. In other words, it is the way cases and court capacity are matched. From a management perspective, the supply of judicial services has to match the demand for judicial services by those seeking justice, not only in aggregated numbers, but also in terms of location and time. Capacity must be available at the time and the place demand occurs. Moreover, general and specialized jurisdictions have to match the demand in terms of number and types of cases. Furthermore, the case management has to take into consideration the interaction between lower and higher courts in terms of first instance, appeals and cassation. A dysfunctional case management system means that the distribution of cases across the court system does not utilize existing capacities in an optimal way. This leads to court delay in certain parts of the court system, either for certain courts, for certain types of cases, or at certain times.
It is a challenge for the judicial system not only to anticipate the number and types of cases, but also to adapt itself to changes in demography and type of litigation. Certain flexibility helps to deal with these issues. This flexibility when matching supply and demand of judicial services is provided by three elements: moving courts, moving judges, and moving cases. Case management is about moving cases.
Fourteen Questions for Court Case Management Evaluators
This document, prepared by a case management consultant in 2008 for a presentation at a court management conference, summarizes in 9 pages the questions practitioners should ask when evaluating the performance of case management in the courts of a particular country. The purpose of this document is to be practical, concise and targeted. In addition to the questions, it also provides definitions of key terms and examples. Answering these fourteen questions can help to construct a statistical profile of caseloads that enable conclusions to be drawn about the performance of the case management system in case.
The Use of ICT in European Judicial Systems (CEPEJ)
This 2008 report (64 pages) by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) provides an account on the strategic ICT innovation approaches taken in Europe, and on the uses of ICT within the courts and for judicial data interchange. The availability of web services, the use of electronic filing, the exchange of legal documents electronically, the possibility of laws and jurisprudence online are only some examples that are spurring the judicial administrations around the world to rethink their current functions and activities. According to this report, ICT can be used to enhance efficiency, access, timeliness, transparency and accountability, helping the judiciaries to provide adequate services. However, it also warns that this is not always the case. The interaction between technology and highly regulated organizations, such as courts, may lead to unexpected negative results. This study provides and insight into the dynamics and problems that may characterize such experiences.
A RAND Evaluation of Judicial Case Management In the United States
The Civil Justice Reform Act (CJRA) of 1990 is rooted in more than a decade of concern that cases in federal courts take too long and cost litigants too much. The CJRA required each federal district court to conduct a self-study with the aid of an advisory group and to develop a plan for civil case management to reduce costs and delay. Ten district courts, denoted "pilot" district courts, were required to adopt plans that incorporated certain case management principles through December 1995. The evaluation focused on the consequences of that pilot program.
Documents used by the French Case Management judge
(Le juge de la mise en état)
In French civil procedure a judge is assigned to more important civil cases to oversee case preparation. This case management judge ensures that the parties do not delay the proceeding or run up the cost unnecessarily. Among the innovations in French case management are the forging of agreements between the courts and the local bar on time limits for various steps in case preparation.
The following documents are examples, French originals, with some corresponding English translations:
Protocole relatif au traitement des procédures civiles – Agreement between the Créteil District Court and the Local Bar Association for the Treatment of Civil Cases
Convention sur la mise en état des procedures civiles à la Première Chambre du TGI de Meaux – Agreement between the Meaux District Court and the Local Bar Association for the Treatment of Civil Cases
Avenant modificatif relatif à document numéro 2 – Amendment to Document No. 2
Avenant modificatif relatif à document numéro 2 – Amendment to Document No. 2
Contrat de Procédure – Proceedings Contract
Contrat de Procédure – Proceedings Contract
Injonction (formulaire) – Injunction (form)
Ordonnance de clôture – closing order
Ordonnance relative à la désignation d’un expert (exemple) – Order for Appointment of Court Expert (Example)
Ordonnance (incompétence, exemple) – Order (Absence of Jurisdiction, Example)
Ordonnance (affaires jointes, exemple) – Order (Joinder, Example)
Ordonnance (refus de prononcer une condamnation au titre de l’article 700 NCPC, exemple) – Order (Refusal of Disclosure Application, Example)
Ordonnance (provision, exemple) – Order (Interlocutory Payment, Example)
Ordonnance (radiation, exemple)
back to top
Judicial Councils of various kinds oftentimes ensure a certain degree of self governance of the justice sector. Self governance ensures a judiciary's independence, accountability and integrity. In addition to the judiciary's control over its appointments, budget, and apportionment, the term self governance also refers to the enforcement of constitutional provisions to protect against other branches of government. On the one hand, a judiciary must be respected by the other branches of government for it to be respected by society and enable it to fulfill its mandate. On the other hand, the judiciary is an established component of the government structure which must be allowed to exercise its powers fully and maintain its delicate balance with the executive and legislative branches. Often referred to as the nonpolitical branch, the judiciary must nonetheless be able to ensure its independence and impartially adjudicate cases, protect individual rights, and regulate the exercise of government authority.
Governing the Justice System: Spain's Judicial Council
Following the European model, many developing and transitioning countries have established councils independent of other government branches to govern their judiciaries. Spain’s experience illustrates the issues raised by the creation and operation of these entities.
back to top
American Judges Association
Information on membership, conferences, training events, and publications.
Conference of State Court Administrators, US
Information on this organization dedicated to the improvement of US state court systems.
Council for Court Excellence
The Council for Court Excellence is a Washington, DC based organization that is dedicated to the improvement of judicial administration at both the local and federal levels.
Website of the Latin American Legal Documentation Net (Red Iberoamericano de Documentacion y Informacion Judicial). In Spanish, French, English and Portuguese.
National Association for Court Management
Association of court management professionals dedicated to the improvement of courts and development of court managers.
Conseil Superieur de la Justice. In Dutch and French.
Consejo de la Judicatura. In Spanish.
Conselho da Justica Federal. In Portuguese.
Law Enacting the Conseil Superieur de la Magistrature. In French.
Canadian Judicial Council. In English and French.
Conseil Superieur de la Magistrature. In English and French.
Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura. In Italian.
Conselho Superior da Magistratura. In Portuguese.
Consejo General del Poder Judicial. In Spanish.
Judicial Conference of the United States. In English.
back to top