Pillar III. Access to Remedy

Judicial resources [pages 41-42]

 Although there are no fundamental legal obstacles in access to the courts in the Czech Republic, numerous de facto obstructions do exist here. The World Bank’s Doing Business project rates the organisation of the courts and the quality of decision-making in the Czech Republic very highly, but criticises the duration and costs of proceedings for businesses. It takes an average of 611 days to enforce payment under a model contract, and the recovery costs can amount to as much as a third of the claim value. Of that period, enforcement of the judgment per se takes an average of 113 days, with enforcement costs accounting for almost half of costs occasioned by the proceedings as a whole. Overall, the Czech Republic ranked 68th out of the 190 countries assessed. The Government of the Czech Republic systematically analyses the functioning of the judicial system and attempts to reduce the length of judicial proceedings and relieve the courts of unnecessary paperwork in order to streamline the entire judicial architecture. However, this must not be to the detriment of the quality of decision-making and the rights of parties to proceedings. Improvements in law enforcement are addressed by other government strategies, including the International Competitiveness Strategy and the Consumer Policy Priorities 2015-2020.

The following factors have been pinpointed as the main barriers to the prompt and efficient enforcement of the law:

  • The courts are overloaded and the administrative work is excessive.
  • There is little awareness of the forms and means of alternative dispute resolution.
  • Professional legal assistance is very costly.

The Czech Republic views the courts as a fundamental means of redress for those who believe that their rights have been infringed. However, it must not be the only source of recourse.

Accessibility of the courts [pages 48-49]

Judicial proceedings in the Czech Republic are still relatively protracted. Although a lot of headway has been made in reducing the average length of proceedings in recent years, there is still room for improvement. The courts’ main problem is that they are overloaded with a huge number of cases. Judicial proceedings are highly formalised, at great cost to both parties to the dispute and to the court itself. The paperwork associated with the running of the judiciary encumbers not only the judges, but also the courts’ administrative machinery.

Sensitively and coherently used technology could play a major role in freeing the hands of the courts. Just like any other area of human activity, the judiciary could benefit from the advantages delivered by advanced technology. Numerous countries around the world are conducting studies and drawing up strategies on how to use such technology efficiently in the work of the judiciary. These are tools that could be put to good use in the process of adjudication on the one hand (facilitating the taking of evidence, enabling hearings to be held without the physical presence of all persons) and in the paperwork and state administration of the courts on the other (file computerisation and automation). The technology must be used in such a way that it does not place an extra burden on the courts, and must be accompanied by the thorough induction training of court staff. Likewise, it must not reduce in any way the availability of or access to the courts and judicial protection.

Alongside the judges, an indispensable role in the smooth and problem-free functioning of the judiciary is played by judges’ assistants, trainee judges and other employees of the judiciary. These positions need to be filled by highly skilled specialists who are well versed in the law and able to apply it, and they should be rewarded accordingly. The judiciary must offer conditions capable of attracting and retaining top-class lawyers. The Ministry of Justice, aware of this need, is preparing to increase the number of such workers and their pay in 2018. This is a positive trend that should continue in the years to come.

Current state of play:

  • The computerisation of the judiciary and the introduction of electronic files has long been discussed in the Czech Republic and is mentioned in many strategies and action plans (e.g. the Strategy for the International Competitiveness of the Czech Republic, and the Ministerial Strategy for the Development of eJustice 2016-2020).

Tasks:

  • Continue introducing electronic court files.

Coordinator: Ministry of Justice

Deadline: Running, with an assessment as at 31 December 2020

  • In the periodic and ongoing evaluation of the state of play and functioning of the judiciary, pay more attention to how accessible the judiciary is for laypersons and to user-friendliness for clients. Where possible, when evaluating these criteria, draw on the guidelines devised for this purpose by the OECD and/or other generally acknowledged and respected international guidelines so that the data collected can be compared in an international context.

Coordinator: Ministry of Justice

Deadline: Running

  • Map out the latest trends and opportunities in the modernisation of the way the judiciary works, e.g. the use of modern technology in the judiciary and improvements in access to the judiciary, according to the observations and recommendations of the OECD. Evaluate whether these observations can be put to practical use and applied in the Czech Republic.

Coordinator: Ministry of Justice

Co-coordinator: Ministry for Human Rights

Deadline: 31 December 2020