Serbia Justice Functional Review
Internal Performance Assessment > Human Resource Management
g. Planning for the Future
- Human resources management requires making predictions and planning for future human resource needs both in numbers of people and their capacities to face new and growing challenges.
- Unlike some judiciaries in Europe, the Serbian judiciary does not appear to have an ‘ageing’ problem. Precise data on the age structure of the judiciary are not available and is not analyzed within the system. Analysis of the likely judge turnover was identified as a priority of the HJC in its Strategic Plan for 2011-13 but has not yet occurred, and other priorities are more pressing. What is known is that of the 2,844 existing judges, approximately 75 judges are expected to retire in 2014 representing 2.6 percent of the cadre.849 Observations corroborated by stakeholder reports suggest that the age structure is balanced.
- Within the existing age structure, there is a cohort of judges in the younger and middle-age segments who will likely work in the judiciary for decades to come. There is hence a need to invest in their continuing training and career progression to maximize these fixed and valuable resources.
- Given the high judicial staffing levels in Serbia compared to other countries, vacant positions should not be filled in the short or medium term. The total of 298 vacancies by the end of 2014 represents approximately 10 percent of the total number of current judge positions. Keeping those positions vacant – or eliminating the positions in exchange for greater flexibility in other resources in the next budget – would further align Serbia with judge staffing levels within Europe. Attrition through the non-replacement of departing judges would gradually improve the resource mix and enable greater investments in much-needed infrastructure and ICT systems. Even in the longer term, future appointments should be considered very cautiously, recognizing that judges are permanent investments. Once appointed, they are difficult to remove or transfer and generate high unit costs to the system in terms of salaries, allowances, staff etc.
- Initial training also need not be prioritized. Smaller cohorts would also relieve funds within the system and allow them to focus on investments in this existing cadre through intensive continuing training.850
- An automated personnel tracking system is currently under development by the HJC. The system will allow for human resource management and improved performance by individual judges. The system will include the history of positions held by the incumbent, training received, and complaints registered against her or him which will help the HJC track career progression and improve individual judicial performance.
- The HR information system should be used for planning future resource needs, not solely for individual assessment purposes. Information about performance issues or training gaps should be consolidated and evaluated for where changes can be made in the system.
- The various Law Faculties offer some courses to prepare law students for future work in the courts, and these curricula could be improved further. Annex 5 summarizes the courses offered at the four Law Faculties related to careers in the judiciary, as well as courses offered in European law. As curricula develop, faculties should focus their curricula even further on courses relating to European law, ethics, and skills training such as legal drafting and legal clinics. Should the judiciary develop templates for legal submissions and a standardized approach to judgment-writing, these reforms should be accompanied by intensive training throughout the law school curricula.
- Assessment of future needs for non-judge employees also needs to be considered carefully by the HJC. The MOJ is unable to provide past figures or projections regarding employee turnover. Knowing this information by classification will allow the HJC to transform the judiciary by considering and changing the needed resource mix as turnover occurs. Assistants are a particularly valuable resource, and their career progression into middle-management positions, as advisors, Court Managers and administrators, should be prioritized.