“Serbia does not fall into countries with the “most critical” situation regarding the judicial efficiency statistics, as many EU member states are also struggling with the same problems we have, which are the duration of civil litigious cases and low clearance rate”, Nela Kuburovic, the Minister of Justice, stated during the presentation of the European Commission for Efficiency of Justice (“CEPEJ”) Report, held at the Aeroklub in Belgrade.

The Minister said that the CEPEJ works towards the improvement of the efficiency and effectiveness of judicial systems in the Council of Europe member states, aiming to provide an efficient enforcement of civil rights and to increase the level of citizens’ trust in the judicial system, which is also one of the priorities of the Government of the Republic of Serbia.

“The aim is to ultimately reduce the number of cases which are before the European Court of Human Rights and which have been caused by judicial institutions of the Council of Europe member states through various forms of violations of the right to a fair trial“, Kuburovic said.

She stated that in the past two years the cooperation with this working body of the Council of Europe has been significantly improved, that special attention is paid to the recommendations and guidelines which establish relevant European standards, as well as that progress has been made in the manner of reporting within the evaluation which is conducted by the CEPEJ every two years, that the information given is more precise, but that the data suggests that efforts are necessary in many areas, as well as that the method of keeping the court statistics must undergo changes.

 “With the application of the new Law on Enforcement and Security, we are expecting a significant improvements in the statistics relating to enforcement cases. Nonetheless, we must continue to make important efforts in other areas, such improved efficiency of civil litigious cases”, Kuburovic stated, adding that one of the Report’s conclusions was that precisely the promotion and the use of alternative dispute resolution in civil litigious and criminal cases are necessary, for the purpose of reducing the number of incoming cases.

Mr. Tim Cartwright, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade, stated that the Council of Europe supports Serbia's reform efforts in improving the efficiency of the judiciary, that the data and conclusions of the CEPEJ Report are an indicator of success and progress in the process of European integration, and that the Council of Europe stands at the disposal of the Republic of Serbia as its member state, with expert and institutional support.

The report indicates that in Serbia in 2014, using a efficiency indicators, 359 days was needed to resolve first instance civil litigious cases, in FYR Macedonia 132 days was needed, in Montenegro 298, 380 in Croatia, 532 in Italy and in Bosnia and Herzegovina 603 days.

An overview of the number of first instance civil litigious cases of received in 2014 shows that in Serbia 3.18 cases were initiated in 2014 per 100 inhabitants, unlike, for example, in Austria and Germany, where the number is much lower (1.11 and 1.76), and even Italy and France.

The Republic of Serbia in 2014 had 2,700 judges, i.e. 38 judges per 100,000 inhabitants, which is similar to the judicial systems of the countries of Central and especially Eastern Europe, which operate with a ratio of judges to population significantly greater than in Western European countries.

Compared to the previous reporting cycles, and in accordance with the establishment of a new network of courts which is characterized by an increased number of courts, Serbia recorded a trend increase in the number of first instance courts, with 2.2 per 100,000 inhabitants first instance courts being above the European average of 2.0 in 2014.

When it comes to lawyers, Serbia follows a rising trend in numbers, which is recorded in most of the European countries - Serbia has 118 lawyers per 100,000 inhabitants and it is in this respect similar to Montenegro, the Czech Republic and Denmark, while, for example, this number is significantly lower in Austria and Slovenia (94 and 79), and is significantly higher in Italy and Greece (368 and 388).

CEPEJ is a special working body of the Council of Europe, composed of members of all 47 member states of the Council, tasked with analysis of the efficiency and effectiveness of the judicial systems of these countries, through their comparison and exchange of knowledge on their work and results, with the aim of giving tangible proposals for their improvement, and promoting effective implementation of principles, tools and recommendations of the Council of Europe.

The presentation of the Report “European Judicial Systems - the Efficiency and Quality of Justice – 2016 edition” has been organized by the Ministry of Justice in cooperation with the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade.

More information about this year's report can be found at the following link: http://www.mpravde.gov.rs/tekst/9293/evropski-pravosudni-sistemi.php.