On the margins of the Annual Conference of Judges the Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC), with the support of MDTF-JSS, organized the meeting of judges' assistants in higher courts, dedicated to case-law harmonization. There was more than 30 judges’ assistants from all higher courts in Serbia. The representative of the World Bank, European Council and Delegation of EU in Belgrade also took part in the meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, heads of Civil and Penal Department of Court Practice in the Supreme Court of Cassation, judge Vesna Popović and judge Vesko Krstajić provided participants with detailed information on the manner of work and the aims of work at departments of court practice in Supreme Court of Cassation. Their presentation focused on differences in procedures between the civil and penal department and what is done to enhance understanding of those differences. One of the issues being discussed is the importance of acting in courts in the same factual-legal situations and the predictability of acting in courts. In addition the participants were informed about the mechanisms of harmonizing court practice within both departments in Supreme Court of Cassation individually as well as on the court level. They presented the problems – challenges which court faces at equating court practice and the manner of solving them.
The participants were informed about the Plan of Activities in the Supreme Court of Cassation in order to align court practice and concrete activities which Supreme Court of Cassation undertook in the previous period. At the level of Courts of Appeal, ongoing activities include organization of join meeting of the representatives of all four Courts of Appeal solely dedicated to discussions around unification of court pratcise. Meetings are used to present open legal issues in order to reach mutual understanding and consensus, however if the Courts of Appeal cannot agree on certain issues, the Supreme Court of Cassation is obliged to provide and explain its position.
The plan for the uniform websites for easier handling by visitors was presented to participants, and it was noted that the websites should contain other information beside basic and contact information, such as relevant information about the court practice in a such way that interested people could be informed about the current court practice in a same way as this is presented at the website of the Supreme Court of Cassation or Constitutional Court of Serbia.
It was pointed out that it is necessary to create electronic data base of court practice at all court levels, with all relevant court decisions, opinions and conclusions, which would efficiently contribute to the equating of court practice.
It was also discussed about the necessity of equating court practice with practice of the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) and participants pointed out that enabling access to the ECHR data base is a must. However, given that internet in courts has limited bandwidth this is not possible for the time being.
Also, the role of judges’ assistants in work if departments of court practice has been discusses with a focus on what is expected from them. It was agreed that concrete activities with judicial assistants will be initiated soon in order to equate the court practice at the level of higher and basic courts.