Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Slovenia (hereinafter MOJ) in cooperation with the Supreme Court of Slovenia organized meeting on the exchange on case weighting approaches with delegation of the Republic of Serbia. The conference took place in Ljubljana, December 4, 2015, at the premises of the Supreme Court of Slovenia. The Serbian delegation was composed of following 7 members:
Mr Dragomir Milojević, Chief Justice, President of the Supreme Court of Cassation (hereinafter SCC), head of the delegation
Ms Snežana Andrejević, Justice, Deputy President of the SCC
Ms Ljubica Milutinović, Justice, Head of SCC Department for protection of the right to a trial within reasonable time
Ms Mirjana Puzović, Head of Office of the SCC president
Mr Miroljub Tomić, a member of the High Judicial Council
Ms Majda Kršikapa, Secretary of the High Judicial Council
Ms Tijana Perić Diligenski, RAFU Consultant for the Reform of the Judicial Network
Mr Branko Masleša, President of the Supreme Court of Slovenia, gave welcome speech and presented to Serbian delegation history and contemporary trends of case weighting methodology in Slovenian courts of general and special jurisdictions. He emphasized that in 1994. Slovenian judiciary was reformed in wrong manner – in order to resolve the number of unresolved cases, number of judges was increased. This trend did not give positive results and in last few years number of judges was reduced by 17%, by giving priority to track record of court (number of cases per court) instead of the individual judge track record (number of cases per judge). In Slovenian judiciary, procedural actions are reduced to lower level of competences (on the level of judicial assistants and trainees) in order to enable judges to fulfill norm (100 cases per month) and focus on resolving cases in meritum. In such manner, number of pending cases constantly decreases while increases quality of access to justice and confidence in judiciary.
Mr Dragomir Milojevic emphasized that case weighting methodology in Serbia needs to be streamlined in order to allow, amongst other matters, fair allocation of workload among judges and public prosecutors. The USAID Separation of Powers Program in Serbia, conducted a weighting caseload test. The results wil be used to determine the number of judges needed in each court, as well as to support needs-based budget development and allocation.
Mr Rado Brezovar, adviser to the President of the Supreme Court, gave a presentation on judicial self- governance in Slovenia related with ICT platform and transfer of budgetary authorities to Supreme Court. The paradigm of the administration of courts encompasses of: obligation of each president of court to prepare program for six years; court management should prepare the report on work; the president of Supreme Court should submit yearly report to the Parliament.
After presentation of Mr Brezovar, Tadeja Koprivec from District Court of Ljubljana informed members of Serbian delegation about data warehouse usage at case management system in courts. She emphasized that Judicial Council decides on complexity of cases, but the purpose is equal workloads of courts.
Jaša Vrabec, Head of the Office for Court Management Development of the Supreme Court of Slovenia explained the project of triage in commercial disputes. The purpose of triage is transfer authorities in judicial process to lower level of competences in order to optimize HR policy and reducing the number of cases per judge. For that purpose, Commission for triage is formed. The advantages of triage are as follows: better review of new cases in courts, better coordination of court work, judges are less caseload burdened (which resulted in reduced number of resolved cases, reduced number of resolved cases in meritum, shorter time of resolving cases, optimal use of resources). Ms Helena Miklavčič, District Court judge was focused on explanation of Triage Commission role. She said that 1/3 disputes solve through triage such as: mediation cases, matters related with claims and response to a claims, territorial jurisdiction and disputes of small value. Presenters emphasized that in future temporal criteria will be ponder/criterion for resolving cases. It means that every phase of judicial process should have a time necessary for resolving, according to the criteria established by Supreme Court.
Ana Jaklič, President of the Labor and Social court in Ljubljana gave us information about triage in labor disputes, in which allocation of workload is delegated to the court departments. According to statistics, 17,5% of labor disputes are resolved through triage.
In MOJ, Ms Tina Brecelj, State Secretary, gave welcome speech about role of Ministry in the process of judicial development in Slovenia. Mihael Gubenšek from MOJ presented role of the Unit for judicial development and project unit within it. Nika Rebernik explained e-justice project and dynamic of financial costs from EU donor funds. Sabina Klanček introduced members of delegation with video conferences project, while her colleague, Ms Gabrijela Sajraš Dirnbek presented the new project of MOJ – Efficient judiciary (2014-2020).
Outcomes: Lessons learned at the conference will be very useful for Serbian judges, as well as representatives of independent judicial bodies, because weighting of cases is new, still undeveloped system in the judiciary of the Republic of Serbia. Bearing in mind that Serbia and Slovenia share common history and common (k. und k.) judicial tradition, familiarization with Slovenian model of case weighting is crucial for better implementation of strategic guidelines, activities and measures prescribed by Action plan for implementation National Judicial Reform Strategy (2013-2018), as well as Action plan for Chapter 23.
The further steps: The future cooperation between Slovenian and Serbian judiciary in this matter will be realized through study visits, conferences and engagement of Slovenian experts.