Evaluation of judicial systems


After the establishment of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) in 2002, one of the priorities of the Council of Europe concerned the development of a method to evaluate the composition and the performance of the judicial systems in Europe. For this purpose Dr. Albers drafted a key document titled 'evaluation of judicial systems: a balance between variety and generalisation' (CEPEJ 2003(12)). This document was the starting point for the creation of a successful product of the Council of Europe: a complete overview in facts and figures of the European judicial systems of 47 countries.

In 2005 the first pilot report on judicial systems was published at a European conference in The Hague. This report contained data from 41 Member States, describing various aspects related to the area of justice: financing of the justice sector, their performance (public prosecution and courts), access to justice, information technology in the justice sector, the profession of judges and prosecutors, mediation, legal professions (lawyers and bailiffs), etcetera.

In 2006, respectively 2008 the first and second report of the CEPEJ was published. These reports included enriched data and detailed descriptions of the composition and functioning of various judicial systems. The success of the report was reflected in the fact that the number of participating countries inreased over time. Furthermore, more countries were using the results of the reports for benchmarking purposes and reforms of the judiciary too.

One can conclude that with the publication of the reports the CEPEJ set a new landmark: the presentation of comparative data and descriptive information in the field of administration of justice. Already for more than 10 years the reports are being used as a point of reference for judicial systems and as a benchmark for initiating judicial reforms.

It is important to note that not only the individual European Member States are applying the results of the report for national reforms, but that the information is also used by the European Union and the World Bank as well. As a part of the EU Justice Scoreboard a selection of data is applied to present comparative information of the EU Member States about the relationship between economic development in the region and quality of justice. The World Bank is using the experience of the CEPEJ as a part of their justice sector assessments (e.g. through the publication of Justice At a Glance reports).