European Day of Civil Justice – Interview with Stéphane Leyenberger

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As part of its “Notaries for Europe – Europe for Notaries” training programme, the CNUE is organising a major conference on 25 October 2013 in Luxembourg. Two hundred and fifty participants from the notariat, politics and academia are expected at the conference (further information at: www.conference-notaire-luxembourg.lu).

The Council of Europe and the European Commission have asked for the conference to be the flagship event of the European Day of Civil Justice. In this perspective, Mr Stéphane Leyenberger, Secretary of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) at the Council of Europe, agreed to answer our questions and to present the CEPEJ and the collaboration with the CNUE in greater detail with a view to 25 October.

Can you tell us about the CEPEJ?

Stéphane Leyenberger: "The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice, better known by its acronym CEPEJ, is an innovative body of the Council of Europe whose remit is to improve the quality and efficiency of European legal systems and to enhance the confidence of individuals subject to trial within these systems.

The CEPEJ is a privileged interlocutor in the European and international legal community, particularly through its cooperation with the professional organisations that have observer status and with its networks of pilot courts and national correspondents responsible for collecting data at national level in our member states (of which there are 47)".

Specifically, what are the CEPEJ’s objectives?

S. L.: "The CEPEJ has three objectives. First, to propose pragmatic solutions to the states with respect to the organisation of justice, taking into account fully the users of justice. Second, to enable better application of the Council of Europe’s rules in the area of justice (normative “after sales service”). Third, helping to reduce congestion in the European Court of Human Rights by offering states effective solutions to prevent violations of the right to fair trial within a reasonable time (Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights).

In the Action Plan adopted at their Third Summit (Warsaw, May 2005), the Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the Council of Europe decided to develop the CEPEJ’s role of evaluation and assistance in order to help member states to deliver justice fairly and quickly".

In this context, what relationship do you have with the European Commission?

S. L.: "The Council of Europe and the European Commission work in synergy to improve the daily functioning of the European judicial systems by harmonising standards in the European judicial systems, defending the same principles and values for safeguarding and promoting the rule of law. Justice is the main pillar of both our organisations". 

And is it in this perspective that the two institutions are working together for the European Day of Civil Justice?

S. L.: "Yes, indeed. The European Day of Civil Justice enables citizens to be informed of their rights and how justice works on a day-to-day basis to guarantee that these rights are respected. The European Day of Civil Justice brings a new, more humane vision of our judicial systems and how they work, focusing on specific concerns.

For legal professionals and students, the Day of Civil Justice provides an opportunity to promote and inform them about the European Commission and the Council of Europe’s work in civil justice matters, by simulating procedures and providing information sessions".

Why have you chosen our conference in Luxembourg as the flagship event of this Day?

S. L.: "In cooperation with the European Commission, the Council of Europe has been careful to vary the topics dealt with at the flagship event since the European Day of Civil Justice was created in 2005. The subject of the flagship event had not yet been dedicated entirely to the notary profession".

What do you expect from the organisation of such an event?

S. L.: "For professionals and for students, this event is a real day of training in international practices and legislation. Cross-border legal documents have become common currency in our Member States. We have a duty to each other to keep legal professionals informed of developments and news. I would be thrilled if the international community was to take inspiration from this training and information initiative for the legal professions and for this initiative to be become institutionalised at European level for all legal professions on this day".

For more information on the CEPEJ and its work:
http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/cooperation/cepej/default_en.asp