Best practice guide on backlog reduction of cases in courts


One of the most common problems in courts are a high volume of backlog of cases. Under the influence of a lack of human resources (judges and court staff), an increase of incoming cases, inefficiencies in the work processes of courts and delays in judicial proceedings courts are not capable to keep up with the incoming cases. As a result of this the volume of pending cases is growing over time. When these pending cases are exceeding certain time standards, this is seen as backlog.

To fight the backlog of cases there are several solutions possible. Some of the solutions are developed by the court themselves. As a part of the USAID Separations of Powers Project in Serbia in 2012 a best practice guide for backlog reduction and prevention of courts was prepared. This guide contains a number of measures that a selective number of courts in Serbia has used to reduce their backlog cases. Examples of these measures are:

  • The introduction of backlog reduction teams in the court
  • The labeling of old pending cases
  • Improving cooperation between the courts and key external actors
  • Introducing procedural measures in criminal and civil proceedings
  • Investing in e-justice measures
  • Strengthening the enforcement process

The described solutions are not limited for use in Serbia. It can be applied to other courts in the world as well. With the introduction of simple and practicle measures court performance can be improved drastically.