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Study: litigation in the Czech Republic among the shortest but judicial independence perceived as low

Study: litigation in the Czech Republic among the shortest but judicial independence perceived as low

10.04.2013 11:52
Autor: Zuzana Heczková, KŠB

The new tool intends to provide objective data on the judicial systems in all 27 EU countries. It aims to offer a systematic overview of the functioning of EU judicial systems and also to jump starting economic growth and creating new jobs. Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the Commission and the EU’s Justice Commissioner, is convinced that countries with an independent and effective judicial system are more attractive for investors. Predictability and speed of litigation, as well as the subsequent enforcement of court decisions, is thus now an important part of the EU’s economic strategy.

Duration of litigation

The Scoreboard highlights in particular the time taken to resolve litigious civil and commercial cases, as well as administrative cases.

The Czech Republic – perhaps surprisingly – ranked joint-second with Austria as one of the fastest countries for resolving civil and commercial disputes (this may be partially influenced by the frequent use of electronic or conventional payment orders in Czech civil proceedings). Latvia was the ranked highest, with Italy, Cyprus and Malta all placed near the bottom.
Electronic communication between courts and litigants was reviewed as another indicator of judicial effectiveness. The Czech Republic was again among the highest ranked countries, with Germany and Great Britain somewhere in the middle and Greece coming last.

In the Budget for courts category, however, the Czech Republic sits in the bottom half of the list. Luxembourg has the highest budget and Bulgaria the lowest.

The Scoreboard also refutes claims that the Czech Republic has too few judges – the Czech Republic ranked second just behind Slovenia, with nearly 50 and 70 judges per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively. As concerns the number of attorneys (referred to in the Scorecard using the more general term “lawyer”), the Czech Republic placed in the bottom half, while Luxembourg, Greece, and Italy were among the first.

Independence of the judiciary

A somewhat different, but no less interesting, indicator – and a highly fluctuating one at that – concerns the overall public perception of judicial independence, which is a subjective indicator referring to the respect and confidence in the courts in individual countries.

According to the World Economic Forum and the World Justice Project, several EU countries (such as Finland, the Netherlands and Ireland) ranked among the top 10 countries in terms of the perception of judicial independence. The Czech Republic ranked 22nd out of the 27 assessed countries and Slovakia came in last. It is thus apparent that the influence of corruption in the two countries’ judicial systems is still a big national problem, which is logically reflected in the skeptical approach to respecting and recognising the courts as an independent authority.

On the basis of the Scoreboard, the European Commission calls upon EU countries, the European Parliament and other relevant parties to start a public debate on how effective judicial systems can further promote economic growth. The European Commission also plans to launch a broader debate on the role of justice in the EU at the Assises de la justice, a high-level conference, in November of this year.

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