The EU Justice Scoreboard is an annual overview of indicators on the efficiency, quality and independence of justice systems. Whilst Alternative Dispute Resolution is widely accepted as being assistive in resolving disputes outside the court, Cyprus is last in the EU in promoting and providing incentives for the use of ADR.
The EU Justice Scoreboard is an annual overview of indicators on the efficiency, quality and independence of justice systems. Its purpose is to assist Member States to improve the effectiveness of their national justice systems by providing objective, reliable and comparable data. It compares data between Member States such as the Efficiency of Justice Systems, the quality and citizen-friendliness of justice systems and the independence of justice systems.
The Scoreboard is the result of extensive and long-term collaboration between many different institutions and people. The annual review has been taking place since 2013 and the 2022 edition marks the 10th anniversary of the EU Justice Scoreboard.
2. EFFICIENCY, QUALITY AND INDEPENDENCE OF JUSTICE SYSTEMS
As stated above, important for the existence of an impeccable justice system are the following criteria: efficiency, quality and independence.
As stated in the EU Justice Scoreboard 2022, it is important for a justice system to count as Efficient, to manage caseload and backlog of cases and also deliver its decisions without undue delay. The main indicators used by the EU Justice Scoreboard to monitor the efficiency of justice systems are therefore (a) the length of proceedings (estimated or average time in days needed to resolve a case), (b) the clearance rate (the ratio of the number of resolved cases to the number of incoming cases) and (c) the number of pending cases (that remain to be dealt with at the end of the year).
Out of the 24 countries which submitted data, Cyprus is last in the estimated time needed to resolve civil, commercial, administrative and other cases for the years 2018, 2019 and 2020. It is also noteworthy that the clearance rate (i.e. the ratio of the number of resolved cases over the number of incoming cases) for Cyprus courts for the year 2020 is below 100%, indicating that less cases are resolved than those which come in. Taking into account that the number of cases filed over the past few years is dropping, this is somewhat problematic.
In relation to judicial review of consumer protection cases, Cyprus is among the last Countries in the EU (together with Greece) out of the 24 Countries which submitted data.
The Quality of the justice system is another area which Cyprus lags. Even though it is not easy to measure the quality of a justice system, generally, the following factors are taken into account for measuring quality:
a. Firstly, is the accessibility of justice for citizens and businesses – for example, this takes into account, legal aid, court fees and legal fees, access to alternative dispute resolution methods and specific arrangements for access to justice of persons with disabilities.
ADR and Cyprus
In relation to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and the promotion of the incentives by Member States for using ADR methods for the year 2021, from the 27 Countries which submitted data, Cyprus is last on the list. The specific indicators used to assess the promotion and incentives for using ADR were the following:
- Existence of a website providing information on ADR;
- Media publicity campaigns;
- Brochures for the general public;
- Provision by the court of specific information sessions on ADR upon request;
- Existence of court ADR/mediation coordinator;
- Publication of evaluations on the use of ADR;
- Publication of statistics on the use of ADR;
- Partial or full coverage by legal aid of costs involved in Alternative Dispute Resolution;
- Full or partial refund of court fees, including stamp duties, if ADR is successful;
- No requirement for a lawyer for ADR procedures;
- Whether a judge can act as a mediator;
- Whether an agreement reached by the parties in ADR can become enforceable by the court;
- Possibility to initiate proceedings/file a claim and submit documentary evidence online;
- Whether parties can be informed of the initiation and different steps of procedures electronically;
- The possibility of online payment of applicable fees;
- The use of technology (artificial intelligence applications, chat bots) to facilitate the submission and resolution of disputes; and
- Other means (to settle cases).
b. Secondly, quality is measured though the adequacy of financial and human resources as well as training.
c. Thirdly, it is measured by the presence or absence of assessment tools and
d. Finally, by the use of information and communication technologies for example digital tools, digital solutions for such rules as well as online access to courts and access to judgements.
C. JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE
Judicial Independence is also integral to judicial decision-making. Through the different markers of the EU Justice Scoreboard, the judiciary in Cyprus is generally considered as independent.