COM(2022) 234 final
COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
2022 EU Justice Scoreboard
Effective justice systems are essential for the application and enforcement of EU law and upholding the rule of law and other values the EU is founded on and which are common to the Member States. National courts act as EU courts when applying EU law. It is national courts in the first place that ensure that the rights and obligations set in EU law are enforced effectively (Article 19 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)).
In addition, effective justice systems are also essential for mutual trust and for improving the investment climate and the sustainability of long-term growth. This is why improving the efficiency, quality and independence of national justice systems continues to feature among the priorities of the European Semester – the EU’s annual cycle of economic policy coordination. The 2022 annual sustainable growth survey (), which sets out the economic and employment policy priorities for the EU, confirms the link between effective justice systems and Member States’ business environment. Well-functioning and fully independent justice systems can have a positive impact on investment and are key for investment protection, and therefore contribute to productivity and competitiveness. They are also important for ensuring the effective cross-border enforcement of contracts, administrative decisions and dispute resolution, essential for the functioning of the single market (
In this context, the EU Justice Scoreboard gives an annual overview of indicators focusing on the essential parameters of effective justice systems:
The 2022 Scoreboard further develops the indicators for all three aspects, including on accessibility to justice for persons with disabilities, , and again on the digitalisation of justice, which has played a major role in keeping the courts functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as more generally, to promote efficient and accessible justice systems (
).This edition strengthens the business dimension on all three aspects by including new data on administrative efficiency, legal safeguards in relation to administrative decisions and confidence in investment protection. Finally, for the first time the 2022 Scoreboard presents the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the efficiency of justice systems.
The European Rule of Law Mechanism –
As announced in President von der Leyen’s political guidelines, the Commission has established a comprehensive European Rule of Law Mechanism to deepen its monitoring of the situation in Member States. The Rule of Law Mechanism acts as a preventive tool, deepening dialogue and joint awareness of rule of law issues. At the centre of the new Mechanism is the annual Rule of Law Report, which provides a synthesis of significant developments – both positive and negative – in all Member States and the Union as a whole. The 2021 Rule of Law Report, published on 20 July 2021, drew on a variety of sources, including the EU Justice Scoreboard (). Moreover, as announced by President von der Leyen in her 2021 State of the Union Speech, the 2022 Rule of Law Report will include recommendations to Member States. The 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard has also been further developed to reflect the need for additional comparative information identified during the preparation of the 2021 Rule of Law Report, so as to support forthcoming Rule of Law reports.
What is the EU Justice Scoreboard?
The EU Justice Scoreboard is an annual comparative information tool. Its purpose is to assist the EU and Member States improve the effectiveness of their national justice systems by providing objective, reliable and comparable data on a number of indicators relevant for the assessment of the (i) efficiency, (ii) quality and (iii) independence of justice systems in all Member States. It does not present an overall single ranking. Rather, it gives an overview of how all Member States’ justice systems function, based on indicators that are of common interest and relevance for all Member States.
The Scoreboard does not promote any particular type of justice system and treats all Member States on an equal footing.
Efficiency, quality and independence are essential parameters of an effective justice system, whatever the model of the national justice system or the legal tradition on which it is based. Figures for these three parameters should be read together, as all three are often interlinked (initiatives aimed at improving one may affect another).
The Scoreboard mainly presents indicators concerning civil, commercial and administrative cases, as well as, subject to availability of data, certain criminal cases (i.e. cases concerning money laundering at first instance courts), in order to assist Member States in their efforts to create a more efficient investment-, business- and citizen-friendly environment. The Scoreboard is a comparative tool which evolves in the course of dialogue with Member States and the European Parliament (
). Its objective is to identify the essential parameters of an effective justice system and to provide relevant annual data.
What is the methodology of the EU Justice Scoreboard?
The Scoreboard uses a range of information sources. The Council of Europe’s European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), with which the Commission has concluded a contract to carry out a specific annual study, provides much of the quantitative data. The data cover 2012-2020, and have been provided by Member States in accordance with the CEPEJ’s methodology. The study also provides detailed comments and country-specific factsheets that give more context. They should be read together with the figures (
Data on the length of proceedings collected by the CEPEJ show the ‘disposition time’ – a calculated length of court proceedings (based on a ratio between pending and resolved cases). Data on courts’ and administrative authorities’ efficiency in applying EU law in specific areas show the average length of proceedings derived from the actual length of court cases. Note that the length of court proceedings may vary substantially between areas in a Member State, particularly in urban centres where commercial activities may lead to a higher caseload.
Other data sources, covering the period from 2012 to 2021, are: the group of contact persons on national justice systems (
), the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) (
), the Network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the EU (NPSJC) (
), the Association of the Councils of State and Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions of the EU (ACA-Europe) (
), the Council of Bar and Law Societies in Europe (CCBE) (), the European Competition Network (ECN) (
), the Communications Committee (COCOM)(
), the European Observatory on infringements of intellectual property rights(
), the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPC) (
), the Expert Group on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (EGMLTF) (
), Eurostat (
), and the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) ().
Over the years, the Scoreboard methodology has been further developed and refined in close cooperation with the group of Member States’ contact persons on national justice systems, particularly through a questionnaire (updated annually) and by collecting data on certain aspects of the functioning of justice systems.
The availability of data, in particular for indicators on the efficiency of justice systems, continues to improve. This is because many Member States have invested in their capacity to produce better judicial statistics. Where difficulties in gathering or providing data persist, this is either due to insufficient statistical capacity, or because the national categories for which data are collected do not correspond exactly to the ones used for the Scoreboard. Only in very few cases is the data gap due to a lack of contributions from national authorities. The Commission continues to encourage Member States to further reduce this data gap.
How does the EU Justice Scoreboard feed into the European Semester and how is it related to the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF)?
The Scoreboard provides elements for assessing the efficiency, quality and independence of national justice systems. In doing so, it aims to help Member States make their national justice systems more effective. By comparing information on Member States’ justice systems, the Scoreboard makes it easier to identify best practice and shortcomings and to keep track of challenges and progress made. In the context of the European Semester, country-specific assessments are carried out through a bilateral dialogue with the national authorities and the stakeholders concerned. Where the shortcomings identified have macroeconomic significance, the European Semester analysis may lead to the Commission’s proposing to the Council to adopt country-specific recommendations to improve the national justice systems in individual Member States (
). The RRF will make available more than EUR 670 billion in loans and non-repayable financial support, of which each Member State would need to allocate a minimum of 20% to the digital transition. The RRF offers an opportunity to address country-specific recommendations related to national justice systems and to accelerate national efforts to complete the digital transformation of justice systems. Payments to Member States under the performance-based RRF are contingent on the fulfilment of milestones and targets. In this context, the Commission therefore has to continuously assess whether the Member States’ recovery and resilience plans (RRPs) are implemented satisfactorily in order to contribute to effectively addressing all or a significant number of challenges identified in the relevant country-specific recommendations or challenges identified in other relevant Commission documents adopted in the context of the European Semester (
Why are effective justice systems important for an investment- friendly business environment?
Effective justice systems that uphold the rule of law have a positive economic impact, which is particularly relevant in the context of the European Semester and the RRF. Where and when judicial systems guarantee the enforcement of rights, creditors are more likely to lend, businesses have higher confidence and are dissuaded from opportunistic behaviour, transaction costs are reduced and innovative businesses are more likely to invest. In fact, an effective justice system is vital for sustained economic growth. It can improve the business climate, foster innovation, attract foreign direct investment, secure tax revenues and support economic growth. The benefits of well-functioning national justice systems for the economy are confirmed by a wide range of studies and academic literature, including from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (
), the European Central Bank (ECB) (
), the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (
), the World Economic Forum (
), and the World Bank (
A study has found that reducing the length of court proceedings by 1% (measured in disposition time (
)) may increase the growth rate of the number of companies (
), and that a higher percentage – by 1% – of companies perceiving the justice system as independent tends to be associated with higher firms’ turnover and greater productivity growth (
). Another study has indicated there is a positive correlation between perceived judicial independence and foreign direct investment flows (
Several surveys have also highlighted the importance of the effectiveness of national justice systems for companies. For example, in one survey, 93% of large companies replied that they systematically and continuously review the rule of law conditions (including court independence) in the countries they invest in (
). In another survey, over half of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) replied that the cost and excessive length of judicial proceedings, respectively, were the main reasons for not starting court proceedings over the infringement of intellectual property rights (IPR) (
). The Commission’s Communications on Identifying and addressing barriers to the single market (
) and the Single market enforcement action plan (
) also provide insights into the importance of effective justice systems for the functioning of the single market, in particular for businesses.
How does the Commission support the implementation of good justice reforms through technical support?
Member States can draw on the Commission’s technical support available through the Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM) under the Technical Support Instrument (TSI) (
), with a total budget of EUR 864.4 million for 2021 to 2027. Since 2021, the TSI has been supporting projects directly linked to the effectiveness of justice, such as the digitalisation of justice, reforms of judicial maps or better access to justice. The TSI also complements the measures proposed by the Commission to address the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, namely the RRF, since it can support Member States in the preparation and implementation of their recovery and resilience plans. The RRPs include actions, among others, related to making justice more effective: digitalising justice, reducing backlogs, and improving the management of courts and cases.
How does the Justice programme support the effectiveness of justice systems?
With a total budget of EUR 305 million for the period 2021-2027, the Justice programme supports the further development of the European area of Justice based on the rule of law including the independence, quality and efficiency of the justice system, based on mutual recognition and mutual trust, and on judicial cooperation. In 2021, around EUR 45.3 million were provided to fund projects and other activities under the three specific objectives of the programme:
·EUR 12.2 million were provided to promote judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters and to contribute to the effective and coherent application and enforcement of EU instruments as well as to support to Member States for their connection to the ECRIS-TCN system,
·EUR 17.7 million were provided in support to training of justice professionals on EU civil, criminal and fundamental rights law, legal systems of the Member States and the rule of law,
·EUR 15.4 million were provided to support the development and use of digital tools in complementarity with the Digital Europe Programme as well as the maintenance and extension of the e-Justice portal.
Why does the Commission monitor the digitalisation of national justice systems?
Digitalisation of justice is the key to increasing the effectiveness of justice systems and a highly efficient tool for enhancing and facilitating access to justice. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the need for Member States to accelerate modernisation reforms in this area.
Since 2013, the EU Justice Scoreboard has included certain comparative information on the digitalisation of justice across the Member States, for example in the areas of online access to judgments or online claim submission and follow-up.
The Commission’s Communication on Digitalisation of justice in the European Union – A toolbox of opportunities (), adopted in December 2020, presents a strategy aimed at improving access to justice and the effectiveness of justice systems using technology. As outlined in the Communication, a number of additional indicators were included in the EU Justice Scoreboard as of 2021. The purpose is to ensure comprehensive and timely in-depth monitoring of progress areas and challenges encountered by Member States in their efforts towards the digitalisation of their justice systems.
Context: Developments in justice reforms in 2021
In 2021, a large number of Member States continued their efforts to further improve the effectiveness of their justice systems. Figure 1 presents an updated overview of adopted and planned measures across several areas of justice systems in Member States engaged in reforming their justice systems.
Figure 1: Legislative and regulatory activity concerning justice systems in 2021 (adopted measures/initiatives under negotiation in each Member State) (source: European Commission (
In 2021, procedural law continued to be an area of particular focus in many Member States, with a significant amount of ongoing or planned legislative activity. Reforms concerning the status of judges and the rules for legal professionals also saw significant activity. A number of Member States were in the process of introducing legislation for the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in their justice systems. The momentum from preceding years for measures concerning the administration of courts continued in 2021. Some Member States are already actively using or planning to use artificial intelligence in their justice systems. The overview confirms the observation that justice reforms require time – sometimes several years – from their announcement, until the adoption of the legislative and regulatory measures and their implementation on the ground.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also created new challenges that highlighted the importance of accelerating reforms to digitalise the justice system. In this context, several Member States adopted new measures to ensure the regular functioning of courts, while guaranteeing the continued and easy access to justice for all, in particular through the adaptation of procedural rules. The Association of the Councils of State and Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions of the EU (ACA-Europe) developed a questionnaire examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the professional activity of the supreme courts. Respondents included the Supreme Administrative Courts and the Supreme Courts (members of the Network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the EU (NPSJC)). Without examining the substantive measures taken to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Figure 2 presents an updated overview of the changes to procedural law adopted by the Member States to facilitate judicial functions of the courts, either through new legislation, Supreme Court rulings, court regulations or practices.
Figure 2: Changes in procedural rules in Supreme Courts due to COVID-19 pandemic (source: ACA-Europe and NPSJC (
(*) The data covers the period between December 2020 and December 2021. For each Member State, the left column presents the practices in Supreme Courts, and the right column presents the practices in Supreme Administrative Courts (column marked with letter ‘A’). The Member States appear in the alphabetical order of their geographical names in the original language. BE: Raad van State/Conseil d’Etat (Council of State) and Hof van Cassatie /Cour de Cassation (Supreme Court). BG: Върховен административен съд (Supreme Administrative Court). CZ: Nejvyšší správní soud (Supreme Administrative Court) and Nejvyšší soud (Supreme Court). DE: Bundesverwaltungsgericht (Federal Administrative Court). EE: Riikohus (Supreme Court). IE: Chúirt Uachtarach (Supreme Court). EL: Συμβούλιο της Επικρατείας (Council of State). ES: Tribunal Supremo (Supreme Court). FR: Conseil d’Etat (Council of State), Cour de Cassation (Supreme Court). HR: Visoki upravni (Supreme Administrative Court). IT: Consiglio de Stato (Council of State). CY: Supreme Court. LV: Augstākā tiesa (Supreme Court). LT: Vyriausiasis Administracinis Teismas (Supreme Administrative Court). LU: Cour administrative (Administrative Court) Cour de Cassation (Supreme Court). HU: Kúria (Supreme Court). MT: Court of Appeal. NL: Hoge Raad (Supreme Court), Centrale Raad van Beroep (highest administrative court in social cases), Raad van State (Council of State). AT: Verwaltungsgerichtshof (Supreme Administrative Court), Personalsenat (special evaluation panel) of the superior court, Oberster Gerichtshof (Supreme Court). PL: Naczelny Sąd Administracyjny (Supreme Administrative Court). PT: Supremo Tribunal Administrativo (Supreme Administrative Court. RO: Înalta Curte de Casație și Justiție (Supreme Court). SI: Vrhovno sodišče (Supreme Court). SK: Najvyšší súd (Supreme Court). FI: Korkein hallinto-oikeus (Supreme Administrative Courtt). SE: Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen (Supreme Administrative Court). No data from: BG: Върховен касационен съд (Supreme Court); HR: Vrhovni sud (Supreme Court); IT: Corte Suprema di Cassazione (Supreme Court); SE: Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court).
Key findings of the 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard
Efficiency, quality and independence are the main parameters of an effective justice system, for all three of which the Scoreboard presents indicators.
3.1. Efficiency of justice systems
The Scoreboard presents indicators for the efficiency of proceedings in the broad areas of civil, commercial and administrative cases and in specific areas where administrative authorities and courts apply EU law (
The efficiency related indicators in 2020, in particular the number of incoming cases, clearance rate and disposition time, were impacted by the specific circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic across the EU, which affected Member States in different ways (e.g. in terms of timing or severity) ().
3.1.1. Developments in caseload
The caseload of national justice systems decreased in several Member States, compared to the previous year, while increasing or remaining stable in others. Overall it continues to vary considerably between Member States (Figure 3). This is testament to how important it is to remain attentive to caseload developments to ensure the effectiveness of justice systems.
Figure 3: Number of incoming civil, commercial, administrative and other cases in 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/per 100 inhabitants) (source: CEPEJ study (
(*) Under the CEPEJ methodology, this category includes all civil and commercial litigious and non-litigious cases, non-litigious land and business registry cases, other registry cases, other non-litigious cases, administrative law cases and other non-criminal cases.
Figure 4: Number of incoming civil and commercial litigious cases in 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/per 100 inhabitants) (source: CEPEJ study)
(*) Under the CEPEJ methodology, litigious civil/commercial cases concern disputes between parties, e.g. disputes about contracts. Non-litigious civil/commercial cases concern uncontested proceedings, e.g. uncontested payment orders. Methodology changes in EL and SK. Data for NL include non-litigious cases.
Figure 5: Number of incoming administrative cases in 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/per 100 inhabitants) (source: CEPEJ study)
(*) Under the CEPEJ methodology, administrative law cases concern disputes between individuals and local, regional or national authorities. DK and IE do not record administrative cases separately. Removal from judicial procedure of some administrative procedures occurred in RO in 2018. Methodology changes in EL, SK and SE. In SE, migration cases have been included under administrative cases (retroactively applied for 2017).
3.1.2. General data on efficiency
The indicators on the efficiency of proceedings in the broad areas of civil, commercial and administrative cases are: (i) estimated length of proceedings (disposition time), (ii) clearance rate, and (iii) number of pending cases.
Estimated length of proceedings –
The length of proceedings indicates the estimated time (in days) needed to resolve a case in court, meaning the time taken by the court to reach a decision at first instance. The ‘disposition time’ indicator is the number of unresolved cases divided by the number of resolved cases at the end of a year multiplied by 365 (days) (
). It is a calculated quantity that indicates the estimated minimum time that a court would need to resolve a case while maintaining the current working conditions. The higher the value, the higher is the probability that it takes the court longer to reach a decision. Figures mostly concern proceedings at first instance courts and compare, where available, data for 2012, 2018, 2019 and 2020 (
). Figures 8 and 10 show the disposition time in 2020 in civil and commercial litigious cases, and administrative cases at all court instances, while Figure 24 shows the average length of proceedings in money laundering cases at first instance courts.
Figure 6: Estimated time needed to resolve civil, commercial, administrative and other cases in 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/in days) (source: CEPEJ study)
(*) Under the CEPEJ methodology, this category includes all civil and commercial litigious and non-litigious cases, non-litigious land and business registry cases, other registry cases, other non-litigious cases, administrative law cases and other non-criminal cases. Methodology changes in SK. Pending cases include all instances in CZ and, until 2016, in SK. LV: the sharp decrease is due to court system reform, error checks and data clean-ups of the information system.
Figure 7: Estimated time needed to resolve litigious civil and commercial cases at first instance in 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/in days) (source: CEPEJ study)
(*) Under the CEPEJ methodology, litigious civil/commercial cases concern disputes between parties, e.g. disputes about contracts. Non-litigious civil/commercial cases concern uncontested proceedings, e.g. uncontested payment orders. Methodology changes in EL and SK. Pending cases include all instances in CZ and, up to 2016, in SK. IT: the temporary slowdown of judicial activity due to strict restrictive measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic affected the disposition time. Data for NL include non-litigious cases.
Figure 8: Estimated time needed to resolve litigious civil and commercial cases at all court instances in 2020 (*) (1st, 2nd and 3rd instance/in days) (source: CEPEJ study)
(*) The order is determined by the court instance with the longest proceedings in each Member State. No data are available for first and second instance courts in BE and BG, for second instance courts in NL, for second and third instance courts in AT or for third instance courts in DE and HR. There is no third instance court in DE and MT. IT: The temporary slowdown of judicial activity due to strict restrictive measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic affected the disposition time. Access to a third instance court may be limited in some Member States.
Figure 9: Estimated time needed to resolve administrative cases at first instance in 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/in days) (source: CEPEJ study)
(*) Administrative law cases concern disputes between individuals and local, regional or national authorities, under the CEPEJ methodology. Methodology changes in EL and SK. Pending cases include courts of all instances in CZ and, until 2016, in SK. DK and IE do not record administrative cases separately. CY: in 2018, the number of resolved cases increased because cases were tried together, 2 724 consolidated cases were withdrawn and an administrative court was set up in 2015.
Figure 10: Estimated time needed to resolve administrative cases at all court instances in 2020 (*) (1st and, where applicable, 2nd and 3rd instance/in days) (source: CEPEJ study)
(*) The order is determined by the court instance with the longest proceedings in each Member State. No data available for second instance courts in BE, CZ, HU, MT, AT, RO, SI, SK and FI, for third instance courts in CY, LT, LU, MT and PL. The supreme, or other highest court, is the only appeal instance in CZ, IT, CY, AT, SI and FI. There is no third instance court for these types of cases in HR, LT, LU and MT. The highest Administrative Court is the first and only instance for certain cases in BE. Access to third instance courts may be limited in some Member States. DK and IE do not record administrative cases separately.
Clearance rate –
The clearance rate is the ratio of the number of resolved cases over the number of incoming cases. It measures whether a court is keeping up with its incoming caseload. When the clearance rate is around 100% or higher, it means the judicial system is able to resolve at least as many cases as come in. When the clearance rate is below 100%, it means that the courts are resolving fewer cases than the number of incoming cases.
Figure 11: Rate of resolving civil, commercial, administrative and other cases in 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/in % — values higher than 100 % indicate that more cases are resolved than come in, while values below 100 % indicate that fewer cases are resolved than come in) (source: CEPEJ study)
(*) Under the CEPEJ methodology, this category includes all civil and commercial litigious and non-litigious cases, non-litigious land and business registry cases, other registry cases, other non-litigious cases, administrative law cases and other non-criminal cases. Methodology changes in SK. IE: the number of resolved cases is expected to be underreported due to the methodology. IT: different classification of civil cases introduced in 2013.
Figure 12: Rate of resolving litigious civil and commercial cases in 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/in %) (source: CEPEJ study)
(*) Methodology changes in EL and SK. IE: the number of resolved cases is expected to be underreported due to the methodology. IT: different classification of civil cases introduced in 2013. Data for NL include non-litigious cases.
Figure 13: Rate of resolving administrative cases in 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/in %) (source: CEPEJ study)
(*) Past values for some Member States have been reduced for presentation purposes (CY in 2018 = 219%; IT in 2012=279.8%); Methodology changes in EL and SK. DK and IE do not record administrative cases separately. In CY the number of resolved cases has increased because cases were tried together, 2 724 consolidated cases were withdrawn and an administrative court was set up in 2015.
Pending cases –
The number of pending cases expresses the number of cases that remains to be dealt with at the end of the year in question. It also affects disposition time.
Figure 14: Number of pending civil, commercial and administrative and other cases in 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/per 100 inhabitants) (source: CEPEJ study)
(*) Under the CEPEJ methodology, this category includes all civil and commercial litigious and non-litigious cases, non-litigious land and business registry cases, other registry cases, other non-litigious cases, administrative law cases and other non-criminal cases. Methodology changes in SK. Pending cases include cases before courts of all instances in CZ and, until 2016, in SK. IT: different classification of civil cases introduced in 2013.
Figure 15: Number of pending litigious civil and commercial cases in 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/per 100 inhabitants) (source: CEPEJ study)
(*) Methodology changes in EL and SK. Pending cases include cases before courts of all instances in CZ and, until 2016, in SK. IT: different classification of civil cases introduced in 2013. Data for NL include non-litigious cases.
Figure 16: Number of pending administrative cases in 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/per 100 inhabitants) (source: CEPEJ study)
(*) Past values for some Member States have been reduced for presentation purposes (EL in 2012 = 3.5). Methodology changes in EL and SK. Pending cases include cases before courts of all instances in CZ and, until 2016, in SK. DK and IE do not record administrative cases separately.
3.1.3. Efficiency in specific areas of EU law
This section complements the general data on the efficiency of justice systems and presents the average length of proceedings (
) in specific areas of EU law. The 2022 Scoreboard builds on previous data for competition, electronic communications, the EU trademark, consumer law and anti-money laundering. The four areas have been selected because of their relevance for the single market and the business environment. Moreover, this edition provides a broader overview of efficiency of administrative authorities: two new figures on the areas of competition and electronic communications complement such data on consumer protection. In general, long delays in judicial and administrative proceedings may have negative impacts on rights stemming from EU law e.g. when appropriate remedies are no longer available or serious financial damages become irrecoverable. For business in particular, administrative delays and uncertainty in some cases can lead to significant costs and undermine planned or existing investments (
– Competition –
The effective enforcement of competition law is essential for an attractive business environment as it ensures a level playing field for businesses. It encourages enterprise and efficiency, creates a wider choice for consumers and helps reduce prices and improve quality. Figure 17 presents the average length of cases against the decisions of national competition authorities applying Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (
). Figure 18 presents the average length of proceedings before the national competition authorities when applying Articles 101 and 102 of the TFEU.
Figure 17: Competition: average length of judicial review in 2013, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/in days) (source: European Commission with the European Competition Network)
(*) IE and AT: the scenario is not applicable as the authorities do not have powers to take respective decisions. AT: data include cases decided by the Cartel Court involving an infringement of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU, but not based on appeals against the national competition authority. An estimation of length was used for IT. An empty column can indicate that the Member State reported no cases for the year in question. The number of cases is low (below five a year) in many Member States. This can make the annual data dependent on one exceptionally long or short case (e.g. This is the case with MT were there was only one case).
Figure 18: Competition: average length of proceedings before the national competition authorities in 2020 (*) (in days) (source: European Commission with the European Competition Network)
(*) In some Member States the number of cases is limited. BE: Data includes one cartel decision – 1 045 days and five interim measures. Total average length of all six proceedings – 2 015 days. IT: Proceedings I833 – Gare Consip per acquisizione beni e servizi per informatica e telecomunicazioni – launched by the Italian Competition Authority under Article 101 TFEU, are not taken into account, because at the end of the proceedings it did not find any breaches of Article 101 TFEU. It must be taken into account that some Member States count the days for the length of proceedings from different starting points. Most Member States consider a case open when the investigation is open. In the NL, the case is considered open when the Statement of Objection is sent, while in CZ and SK a case is considered open when the administrative proceedings open. In the latter case, this is an intermediate phase between the opening of the investigation and the sending of the Statement of Objection. There are also a number of factors to take into account when it comes to the length of proceedings before the national competition authorities. These include the nature and complexity of the case, the time it takes to collect the economic data and the conclusion of the economic analysis, the deadline extensions at the requests of the parties, and the repetition of hearings.
– Electronic communications –
The objective of EU electronic communications legislation is to raise competition, to contribute to the development of the single market and to generate investment, innovation and growth. The positive effects for consumers can be achieved through effective enforcement of this legislation which can lead to lower prices for end users and better quality services. Figure 19 presents the average length of judicial review cases against the decisions of national regulatory authorities applying EU law on electronic communications (
). It covers a broad range of cases, ranging from more complex ‘market analysis’ reviews to more straightforward consumer-focused issues. Figure 20 presents the average length of proceedings before the national regulatory authorities when applying EU law.
Figure 19: Electronic communications: average length of judicial review in 2013, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/in days) (source: European Commission with the Communications Committee)
(*) The number of cases varies from one Member State to another. An empty column indicates that the Member State reported no cases for the year (except PT for 2019-20, and RO no data). In some instances, the limited number of relevant cases (BG, CY, MT, NL, SK, FI, SE) can make the annual data dependent on one exceptionally long or short case and result in wide variations from one year to the next. DK: quasi-judicial body in charge of 1st instance appeals. EE: The average length of judicial review cases in 2013 was 18 days. ES, AT, and PL: different courts in charge depending on the subject matter.
Figure 20: Electronic communications: average length of proceedings before the National Regulatory Authority in 2015, 2018 – 2020 (in days) (source: European Commission with the Communications Committee)
– EU trademark –
Effective enforcement of intellectual property rights is essential to stimulate investment in innovation. EU legislation on EU trademarks (
) gives the national courts a significant role to play, in acting as EU courts and taking decisions that affect the single market. Figure 21 shows the average length of EU trademark infringement cases in litigation between private parties.
Figure 21: EU trademark: average length of EU trademark infringement cases in 2013, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/in days) (source: European Commission with the European Observatory on infringements of intellectual property rights)
(*) FR, IT, LT, LU: a sample of cases used for data for certain years. DK: data from all trademark cases (not only EU) in Commercial and Maritime High Courts; for 2018 and 2019, no data on average length due to changes in data collection system. EL: data based on weighted average length from two courts. ES: cases concerning other EU IP titles are included in the calculation of average length.
– Consumer protection –
Effective enforcement of consumer law ensures that consumers benefit from their rights and that companies infringing consumer laws do not gain an unfair advantage. Consumer protection authorities and courts play a key role in enforcing EU consumer law (
) within the various national enforcement systems. Figure 22 illustrates the average length of judicial review cases against decisions of consumer protection authorities applying EU law.
For consumers or companies, effective enforcement can involve a chain of actors, not only courts but also administrative authorities. To shed more light on this enforcement chain, the length of proceedings by consumer authorities is presented. Figure 23 shows the average length of time it took for administrative decisions by national consumer protection authorities in 2014, 2018-2020 from the moment a case is opened. Relevant decisions include declaring infringements of substantive rules, interim measures, cease and desist orders, initiation of court proceedings or case closure.
Figure 22: Consumer protection: average length of judicial review in 2013, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/in days) (source: European Commission with the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network)
(*) DE, LU, AT: scenario is not applicable as consumer authorities are not empowered to decide on infringements of relevant consumer rules. The number of relevant cases for 2020 is low (fewer than five) in IE and FI. An estimate of average length was provided by EL and RO for certain years.
Figure 23: Consumer protection: average length of administrative decisions by consumer protection authorities in 2014, 2018 – 2020 (*) (1st instance/in days) (source: European Commission with the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network)
(*) DE, LU, AT: scenario is not applicable as consumer authorities are not empowered to decide on infringements of relevant consumer rules. An estimate of average length was provided by DK, EL, FR, RO and FI for certain years.
– Money laundering –
In addition to contributing to the fight against crime, the effectiveness of the fight against money laundering is crucial for the soundness, integrity and stability of the financial sector, confidence in the financial system and fair competition in the single market (
). Money laundering can discourage foreign investment, distort international capital flows and negatively affect a country’s macroeconomic performance, resulting in welfare losses, thereby draining resources from more productive economic activities (
). The Anti-money Laundering Directive requires Member States to maintain statistics on the effectiveness of their systems to combat money laundering or terrorist financing (
). In cooperation with Member States, an updated questionnaire was used to collect data on the judicial stages in national anti-money laundering regimes. Figure 24 shows the average length of first instance court cases dealing with money laundering criminal offences.
Figure 24: Money laundering: average length of court cases in 2014, 2018 – 2020(*) (1st instance/in days) (source: European Commission with the Expert Group on Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism)
(*) No data for 2020: BE, DE, EE, IE, HR, PL and PT. BG: The average length of the cases is calculated from the day of opening the court case to the day of the court decision in months. ES, NL: estimated length. CZ: Length in months. HU: Average number of days was calculated based only on the number of cases resolved with a conviction. PT: Average number of days was calculated based on a sample. IT: data refer to both trial and preliminary court hearings. CY: Serious cases, before the Assize Court, are on average tried within a year. Less serious offences, before the District Courts, take longer to be tried. SK*: data correspond to average length of the whole proceedings, including at appeal court.
3.1.4. Summary on the efficiency of justice systems
An efficient justice system manages its caseload and backlog of cases, and delivers its decisions without undue delay. The main indicators used by the EU Justice Scoreboard to monitor the efficiency of justice systems are therefore the length of proceedings (estimated or average time in days needed to resolve a case), the clearance rate (the ratio of the number of resolved cases to the number of incoming cases) and the number of pending cases (that remains to be dealt with at the end of the year).
General data on efficiency
The 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard contains data on efficiency spanning eight years (2012-2020). This time-span allows to identify certain trends and to take into account that it often takes time for the effect of justice reforms to be felt.
Looking at the available data since 2012 and until 2020, in civil, commercial and administrative cases, the trends were in most cases positive. However, in 2020, for some Member States the general data on efficiency show a negative impact on efficiency. It is possible that it was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore is of temporary nature.
Some positive developments can be observed in the Member States that have been considered, in the context of the European Semester, to be facing specific challenges (
·Since 2012, and based on the existing data for these Member States, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, in some Member States, the length of first instance court proceedings in the broad ‘all cases’ category (Figure 6) and the ‘litigious civil and commercial cases’ category (Figure 7) continued to decrease or remained stable. In about half of the Member States concerned, the same two Figures 6 and 7 show an increase in the length of proceedings, sometimes above 2012 levels. In administrative cases (Figure 9), the length of proceedings since 2012 has decreased or remained stable in about half of these Member States. Overall, about half of the Member States saw an increase in the length of proceedings in administrative cases in 2020.
·The Scoreboard presents data on the length of proceedings in all court instances for litigious civil and commercial cases (Figure 8) and administrative cases (Figure 10). Data show that in a number of Member States identified as facing challenges with the length of proceedings in first instance courts, higher instance courts perform in a more efficient manner. However, for some other Member States facing challenges, the average length of proceedings in higher instance courts is even longer than in first instance courts.
·In the broad ‘all cases’ and the litigious civil and commercial cases’ categories (Figures 11 and 12), the overall number of Member States whose clearance rate is more than 100% has decreased since last year, going back closer to 2012 levels. In 2020, despite the decrease, the most Member States, including most of those facing challenges, reported a high clearance rate (more than 97%). This means that courts are generally able to deal with the incoming cases in these categories. In administrative cases (Figure 13), a bigger difference in the clearance rate can be observed from one year to the next. While it generally remains lower than in other categories of cases, some Member States continue to make good progress. In particular, more than half of the Member States facing challenges report an increase in the clearance rate in administrative cases since 2012.
·Since 2012, the situation remains stable or continues to improve in almost all Member States facing the most substantial challenges with their backlogs, regardless of the category of cases. In 2020, despite the increase in the number of pending cases in some Member States, in others substantial progress in reducing the number of pending cases has been made in both litigious civil and commercial cases (Figure 15) and administrative cases (Figure 16). However, significant differences remain between Member States with comparatively few pending cases and those with a high number of pending cases.
Efficiency in specific areas of EU law
Data on the average length of proceedings in specific areas of EU law (Figures 17-24) provide an insight into the functioning of justice systems in concrete types of business-related disputes.
Data on efficiency in specific areas of EU law are collected based on narrowly defined scenarios, so the number of relevant cases may appear low. However, compared to the calculated length of proceedings presented in the general data on efficiency, these figures provide for an actual average length of all relevant cases in specific areas in a year. It is therefore worth noting that several Member States that do not appear to be facing challenges based on general data on efficiency report significantly longer average length of cases in specific areas of EU law. At the same time, the length of proceedings in different specific areas may also vary considerably in the same Member State.
Finally, the new figures that focus on the length of administrative proceedings before the national competition authorities and national regulatory authorities dealing with electronic communications provide insights into administrative efficiency in more areas of EU law. Efficiency of the overall enforcement chain, including administrative and judicial proceedings, contributes to a positive business and investment environment, by ensuring timely resolution of cases and enforcement of rights
The figures for specific areas of EU law show the following trends:
·For judicial review of competition cases (Figure 17), as the overall caseload faced by courts across Member States increased, the length of judicial review decreased or remained stable in six Member States, while it increased in five other Member States. Despite the slightly positive trend, three Member States reported an average length exceeding 1 000 days in 2020. For proceedings before the national competition authorities, 10 Member States reported that proceedings took less than 1 000 days. Some Member States, who experience issues with efficiency in the judicial review of competition cases, are among the more efficient when it comes to proceedings before the national competition authorities.
·For electronic communications (Figure 19), the case-loads faced by courts decreased compared to previous years, continuing the positive trend regarding increased length of proceedings observed in 2019. In 2020, most Member States registered a decrease in the average lengths of proceedings or figures remained stable, compared to 2019, with only few showing an increase. The new figure on the efficiency of national regulatory authorities dealing with electronic communications (Figure 20) shows that in some Member States, the average length of proceedings is fairly stable but overall there is no clear trend over the years for which data are available.
·For EU trademark infringement cases (Figure 21), in 2020 the overall caseload decreased. However, while some Member States managed to cope better with their caseload, registering decreased or stable lengths of proceedings, six others saw a clear increase in the average length of proceedings.
·The possible combined effect of the enforcement chain consisting of both administrative and judicial review proceedings is presented in the area of EU consumer law (Figures 22 and 23). In 2020, six Member States reported that their consumer protection authorities took on average less than 3 months to issue a decision in a case covered by EU consumer law, while in six other Member States they took more than 6 months. Where the decisions of the consumer protection authorities were challenged in court, in 2020 the trends in the length of the judicial review of an administrative decision diverged, with increases in eight, and decreases in four other, Member States compared to 2019. In two Member States the average length of a judicial review remains at over 1 000 days.
·The effective fight against money laundering is crucial for protecting the financial system, ensuring fair competition and preventing negative economic consequences. Challenges in the length of court proceedings when dealing with money laundering offences may influence the effective fight against money laundering. Figure 24 presents updated data on the length of judicial proceedings dealing with money laundering offences. It shows that while in more than half of Member States first instance court proceedings take up to a year on average, they take around 2 years on average in several Member States (
3.2. Quality of justice systems
There is no single way of measuring the quality of justice systems. The 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard continues to examine factors that are generally accepted as relevant for improving the quality of justice. They fall into four categories:
1) accessibility of justice for citizens and businesses;
2) adequate financial and human resources;
3) putting in place of assessment tools;
Accessibility is required throughout the whole justice chain to enable people to obtain relevant information – about the justice system, about how to initiate a claim and the related financial aspects, about the state of play of proceedings up until their end – and to access the judgment online.
– Legal aid, court fees and legal fees –
The cost of litigation is a key factor that determines access to justice. High litigation costs, including court fees (
) and legal fees (
), may hinder access to justice. Litigation costs in civil and commercial matters are not harmonised at EU level. Governed by national legislation, they vary from one Member State to another.
Access to legal aid is a fundamental right enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (
). It allows access to justice to people who would not otherwise be able to bear or advance the costs of litigation. Most Member States grant legal aid based on the applicant’s income (
Figure 25 shows the availability of full or partial legal aid in a specific consumer case involving a claim of EUR 6 000. It compares the income thresholds for granting legal aid, expressed as a percentage of the Eurostat poverty threshold for each Member State (
). For example, if the threshold for legal aid appears to be at 20%, it means that an applicant with an income 20% higher than the Eurostat poverty threshold for their Member State will still be eligible for legal aid. However, if the threshold for legal aid appears to be below 0, this means that a person with an income below the poverty threshold may not be eligible for legal aid.
Some Member States operate a legal aid system that provides for 100% coverage of the costs linked to litigation (full legal aid), complemented by a system covering partial costs (partial legal aid), the latter applying eligibility criteria different from that of the former. Other Member States operate only a full or partial legal aid system.
Figure 25: Income threshold for legal aid in a specific consumer case, 2021 (*) (differences in % from Eurostat poverty threshold) (source: European Commission with the Council of Bar and Law Societies in Europe (CCBE) (
(*) EE: decision to grant legal aid is not based on the level of the applicant’s financial resources. IE: legal aid has to also take into account the applicant’s disposable assets. CY: 2020 data. MT: 2020 data. LV: thresholds vary by municipality; the chart shows the upper limit. PT: the granting of legal aid is a decision taken by the public administration (P.A. in the figure), with the Social Security Ministry assessing the applicant’s financial conditions under the law. RO: 2020 data.
Most Member States require parties to pay a court fee when starting judicial proceedings. Recipients of legal aid are often exempt from paying court fees. Only in Bulgaria, Estonia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia are recipients of legal aid not automatically exempt from paying court fees. In Czechia, the court decides on a case-by-case basis whether or not to exempt a legal aid recipient from paying court fees. In Luxembourg, litigants who benefit from legal aid do not have to pay bailiff fees. Figure 26 compares, for two scenarios, the amount of the court fee presented as a proportion of the value of the claim. If, for example, in the figure below the court fee appears to be 10% of a EUR 6 000 claim, the consumer will have to pay a EUR 600 court fee to start judicial proceedings. The low value claim is based on the Eurostat at-risk-of-poverty (AROP) threshold for each Member State.
Figure 26: Court fee to start judicial proceedings in a specific consumer case, 2021 (*) (amount of court fee as a proportion of the value of the claim) (source: European Commission with the Council of Bar and Law Societies in Europe (CCBE) (
(*) ‘Low value claim’ is a claim corresponding to the Eurostat poverty threshold for a single person in each Member State, converted to monthly income (e.g. in 2019, this value ranged from EUR 193 in RO to EUR 1 824 in LU). ES, PT: no data provided. BG, RO: 2020 data for court fee for a EUR 6 000 claim. No information on court fees for a low value claim was provided. CY: 2020 data. LU: Litigants have to pay bailiff fees to start proceedings as a plaintiff unless they benefit from legal aid. MT: 2020 data. NL: Court fees for income < EUR 2 383/month. AT: The maximum amount of the court fee depends on the court’s instance. SE: Court fees differ in civil matters depending on the type of case. For disputes where the value of the claim is < EUR 2 339, the court fee is EUR 88. In cases where the value of the claim is > EUR 2 339, the court fee is EUR 275. For other types of claims there are other court fees.
Efficient contract enforcement is essential for the economy. The likelihood of recovering the actual costs of litigation strengthens the position of a creditor seeking to enforce a contract. Typically, the creditor, as plaintiff, is required to pay a court fee for filing a case with the court. The courts generally order the defendant who loses to reimburse in full the court fees advanced by the plaintiff who has won. Figure 27 shows the amount of the court fee required to start judicial proceedings in a specific commercial case concerning a dispute between two companies in cross-border commercial litigation on enforcing a contract, with a claim value of EUR 20 000.
Figure 27: Court fee to start judicial proceedings in a specific commercial case, 2021 (*) (in EUR) (source: European Commission with the CCBE (
(*) CY, LU, MT, PL, RO: 2020 data. EL, ES: Recovery of court fees is decided on a case-by-case basis. HU: There is no full recovery of court fees by the winning party.
It is common for the creditor to advance their own lawyer’s fees not only for the litigious phase but also during the pre-litigious phase. On reimbursement, most Member States apply the rule according to which the losing party is expected to bear not only their own legal costs, but also those of the winning party. This rule deters the ﬁling of cases where there is a low probability of winning, but encourages the filing of cases where there is a high probability of winning. Figure 28 shows the amount the court would award to the successful plaintiff in a specific commercial case scenario (footnote 62).
Three main fee systems can be distinguished:
(1) in Member States with a statutory fee system, the reimbursement of legal fees depends on the level of the statutory fee for the work carried out by the lawyer, which varies significantly from one Member State to another;
(2) in Member States without a statutory fee system, there is either full (Portugal, Finland) or partial (Latvia, Luxembourg) reimbursement of legal fees;
(3) in a number of Member States the issue of reimbursement is decided by the court on a case-by-case basis.
Figure 28: Recoverability of legal fees in a commercial trial, 2021 (*) (in EUR) (source: European Commission with the Council of Bar and Law Societies in Europe (CCBE) (
(*) For this figure, legal fees do not include clerical costs and VAT, if payable. The hypothetical legal fee for the litigious phase provided for in the scenario is EUR 1 650. Full recovery in systems without a statutory fee means that this amount (EUR 1 650) can be recovered. Member States with partial recovery (LV, LU) are sorted by order of the recoverable legal fee (highest to lowest, with amounts ranging from EUR 2 200 to EUR 660). The figure does not include information on the recoverability of legal fees for the pre-litigious phase, because this is not envisaged in all Member States. IT: there is a statutory fee in IT (EUR 3 235 in the scenario), but the court can decide on reimbursement within a set range. LT: the court decides, taking into account guidance from the Ministry of Justice. The maximum amount in the scenario would be EUR 3 350. HU: There are two scenarios: the court could order a full recovery of legal fees by the winning party, based on the legal fee arrangement between the lawyer and the client; the court could take into account the statutory legal fee system and order only a partial recovery of legal fees by the winning party, despite the arrangement between the lawyer and the client. MT: there is no concept of an hourly legal fee in MT, reimbursement is determined based on the value of the claim. AT: scenario not fully applicable to AT’s system of reimbursement. PL: The minimum amount of fees is determined by law and they are dependent on the value of the subject matter of the dispute. The court could decide to wave the fee or to order payment of the minimum fee (in case the fee is increased due to specific circumstances as set out in the relevant legislation).
– Accessing alternative dispute resolution methods –
Figure 29 shows Member States’ efforts to promote the voluntary use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods with specific incentives. These may vary depending on the area of law (
Figure 29: Promotion of and incentives for using ADR methods, 2021 (*) (source: European Commission (
(*) Maximum possible: 68 points. Aggregated indicators based on the following indicators: 1) website providing information on ADR; 2) media publicity campaigns; 3) brochures for the general public; 4) provision by the court of specific information sessions on ADR upon request; 5) court ADR/mediation coordinator; 6) publication of evaluations on the use of ADR; 7) publication of statistics on the use of ADR; 8) partial or full coverage by legal aid of costs ADR incurred; 9) full or partial refund of court fees, including stamp duties, if ADR is successful; 10) no requirement for a lawyer for ADR procedures; 11) judge can act as a mediator; 12) agreement reached by the parties becomes enforceable by the court; 13) possibility to initiate proceedings/file a claim and submit documentary evidence online; 14) parties can be informed of the initiation and different steps of procedures electronically; 15) possibility of online payment of applicable fees; 16) use of technology (artificial intelligence applications, chat bots) to facilitate the submission and resolution of disputes; and 17) other means. For each of these 17 indicators, one point was awarded for each area of law. IE: administrative cases fall into the category of civil and commercial cases. EL: ADR exists in public procurement procedures before administrative courts of appeal. ES: ADR is mandatory in labour law cases. PT: for civil/commercial disputes, court fees are refunded only in the case of justices for peace. SK: the Slovak legal order does not support the use of ADR for administrative purposes. FI: consumer and labour disputes are also considered to be civil cases. SE: judges have procedural discretion on ADR. Seeking an amicable dispute settlement is a mandatory task for the judge unless it is inappropriate due to the nature of the case.
– Specific arrangements for access to justice of persons with disabilities –
As Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (), the EU and all its Member States are obliged to ensure persons with disabilities have effective equal access to justice by ensuring appropriate accommodation with the aim to equality and non-discrimination. State parties should also provide accessibility, including communication and information as well as reaffirm their right to equal recognition before the law. Figure 30 shows selected specific arrangements in this regard, such as the availability of information in accessible formats, the availability upon request of specific formats, or the accessibility for people with disabilities of digital solutions for civil and commercial cases, administrative cases and criminal cases before first instance courts.
Figure 30: Specific arrangements for access to justice of persons with disabilities, 2021 (source: European Commission (
– Judicial control over public administration in business-related scenarios –
For the first time, the 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard provides an overview of selected legal safeguards regarding acts or omissions of administrative authorities in business-related scenarios
. Relevant safeguards include the court review of administrative decisions and interim measures, or possibility for financial compensation in the case of administrative silence or an ill-founded decision. All of these contribute to the quality of the justice system, of particular relevance for the business and investment environment and the functioning of the single market.
Figure 31: Legal safeguards regarding decisions or inaction of administrative authorities, 2021 (*) (source: European Commission (
– Child-friendly justice –
The 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard deepens the analysis of child friendly-justice compared to previous editions. Figure 32 shows the various arrangements in Member States that make a justice system more suited to the needs of children. Figure 33 looks at specific arrangements available when a child is involved as a victim or as a suspect/accused person.
Figure 32: Specific arrangements for child-friendly proceedings, 2021 (*) (Civil and criminal/juvenile justice and administrative proceedings), (source: European Commission (
(*) Children: persons under 18 years of age. Data for MT on training for judges are for 2020.
Figure 33: Specific arrangements for child-friendly proceedings with children involved as victims or suspects or as accused persons, 2021 (*) (source: European Commission (
(*) Children: persons under 18 years of age.
Sufficient resources, including the necessary investments in physical and technical infrastructure, and well qualified, trained and adequately paid staff of all kinds, are necessary for the justice system to work properly. Without adequate facilities, tools or staff with the required qualifications, skills and access to continuous training, the quality of proceedings and decisions is undermined.
– Financial resources –
The figures below show the actual government expenditure on the operation of the justice system (excluding prisons), both per inhabitant (Figure 34) and as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) (Figure 35).
Figure 34: General government total expenditure on law courts in EUR per inhabitant, 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (source: Eurostat)
(*) Member States are ordered according to their expenditure in 2020 (from highest to lowest). The following data are provisional: DE (2018-2020), ES (2020), FR (2019-2020), IT (2020) and PT (2020).
Figure 35: General government total expenditure on law courts as a percentage of GDP, 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (source: Eurostat)
(*) Member States are ordered according to their expenditure in 2020 (from highest to lowest). The following data are provisional: DE (2018-2020), ES (2020), FR (2019-2020), IT (2020) and PT (2020).
– Human resources –
Adequate human resources are essential for the quality of a justice system. Diversity among judges, including gender balance, adds complementary knowledge, skills and experience and reflects the reality of society.
Figure 36: Number of judges, 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (per 100 000 inhabitants) (source: Council of Europe’s European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) study)
(*) This category consists of judges working full-time, in accordance with the CEPEJ methodology. It does not include the Rechtspfleger/court clerks that exist in some Member States. AT: data on administrative justice have been part of the data since 2016. EL: since 2016, data on the number of professional judges include all the ranks for criminal and civil justice as well as administrative judges. IT: Regional audit commissions, local tax commissions and military courts are not taken into consideration. Administrative justice has been taken into account since 2018.
Figure 37: Proportion of female professional Supreme Court judges 2019 – 2021 (*) (source: European Commission (
(*) The data are sorted by 2020 values, from the highest to the lowest. MT: No women on the highest court in 2019 and 2020.
Figure 38: Number of lawyers, 2012, 2018 – 2020 (*) (per 100 000 inhabitants) (source: Council of Europe’s European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) study)
(*) In accordance with the CEPEJ methodology, a lawyer is a person qualified and authorised by national law to plead and act on behalf of their clients; to engage in the practice of law; to appear before the courts or advise and represent their clients in legal matters (Recommendation Rec (2000)21 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyer). DE: no distinction is made between different groups of lawyers in Germany, such as between solicitors or barristers. FI: since 2015, the number of lawyers provided includes both the number of lawyers working in the private sector and the number of lawyers working in the public sector.
– Training –
Judicial training makes an important contribution to the quality of judicial decisions and the justice service delivered to citizens. The data set out below cover judicial training in a broad range of areas, including communication with parties and the press and judicial skills.
Figure 39: Availability of training in communication for judges, 2021 (*) (source: European Commission (
(*) Maximum possible: 16 points. Member States were given 1 point if they have initial training and 1 point if they have continuous training (maximum of 2 points for each type of training). MT: 2020 data.
3.2.3. Assessment tools
Regular evaluation could make the justice system more responsive to current and future challenges, thereby improving its quality. Surveys (Figure 40) are essential for assessing how justice systems operate from the perspective of legal professionals and court users.
Figure 40: Topics of surveys conducted among court users or legal professionals, 2019 (*) (source: European Commission (
(*) Member States were given one point per survey topic indicated regardless of whether the survey was conducted at national, regional or court level. ‘Other topics’ include a survey among litigants about their opinion on the new ways of improving the quality of customer service in the courts and the accessibility of the courts service (FR), a survey among judges on topics such as the general situation of the justice system, their function and judicial independence (ES), assistance provided to crime victims (PL), general aspects of courts and their functioning, access to information about courts, court facilities, judge responsible for the process, resources, loyalty (PT).
The use of information and communication technologies (ICT) can strengthen the Member States’ justice systems and make them more accessible, efficient, resilient and ready to face current and future challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has also adversely impacted national justice systems and has highlighted a number of challenges affecting the functioning of the judiciary. At the same time, it showed the need for the national justice systems to further improve their digitalisation.
Earlier editions of the EU Justice Scoreboard provided comparative data on certain aspects of the ICT in justice systems. As announced in the Commission’s Communication on the digitalisation of justice in the EU of 2 December 2020 (), the Scoreboard has been substantially augmented with further data on digitalisation in the Member States. This should allow for more in-depth monitoring of progress areas and outstanding challenges.
Citizen-friendly justice requires that information about national judicial systems is not only easily accessible but is also tailored to specific groups of society that would otherwise have difficulties in accessing the information. Figure 41 shows the availability of online information and specific public services that can help people access justice.
Figure 41: Availability of online information about the judicial system for the general public, 2021 (*) (source: European Commission (
(*) DE: Each federal state as well as the federal level decide individually which information to provide online.
– Digital-ready rules –
The use of digital solutions in civil/commercial, administrative and criminal cases often requires appropriate regulation in national procedural rules. Figure 42 illustrates the possibility for various actors to use distance communication technology (such as videoconferencing) for procedures related to court cases, and reflects the current situation on the admissibility of digital evidence.
Figure 42: Procedural rules allowing digital technology in courts in civil/commercial, administrative and criminal cases, 2021 (*) (source: European Commission (
(*) For each Member State, the first column presents procedural rules for civil/commercial cases, the second column for administrative cases and the third column for criminal cases. Maximum possible: 12 points. For each criterion, two points were given if the possibility exists in all civil/commercial, administrative and criminal cases, respectively (in criminal cases, the possibility of hearing the parties was split to cover both defendants and victims). The points are divided by two when the possibility does not exist in all cases. For those Member States that do not distinguish between civil/commercial and administrative cases, the same number of points has been given for both areas. EL: none for administrative and criminal cases. LU: none for administrative cases.
– Use of digital tools –
Beyond digital-ready procedural rules, courts and prosecution services need to have appropriate tools and infrastructure in place for distance communication and secure remote access to the workplace (Figure 43). Adequate infrastructure and equipment is also needed for secure electronic communication between courts/prosecution services and legal professionals and institutions (Figures 44 and 45).
ICT, including innovative technology, plays an important role in supporting the work of judicial authorities. It therefore contributes significantly to the quality of justice systems. The availability of various digital tools at the disposal of judges, prosecutors and judicial staff can streamline work processes, ensure fair workload allocation and lead to a significant time reduction.
Figure 43: Use of digital technology by courts and prosecution services, 2021 (*) (source: European Commission (
(*) Maximum possible: 7 points. For each criterion, one point was given if courts and prosecution services, respectively, use a given technology and 0.5 point was awarded when the technology is not always used by them.
Secure electronic communication can contribute to improving the quality of justice systems. The possibility for courts to communicate electronically between themselves, as well as with legal professionals and other institutions, can streamline processes and reduce the need for paper-based communication and physical presence, which would lead to a reduction in the length of pre-trial activities and court proceedings.
Figure 44: Courts: electronic communication tools, 2021 (*) (source: European Commission (
(*) Maximum possible: 5 points. For each criterion, one point was given if secure electronic communication is available for courts. 0.5 was awarded when the possibility does not exists in all cases. FI: the tasks of notaries do not relate to courts. Therefore, there is no reason to provide them with secure connection.
Prosecution services are essential for the functioning of the criminal justice system. They also stand to benefit from access to a secure electronic channel of communication, which could facilitate their work and thus improve the quality of court proceedings. The possibility for secure electronic communication between prosecution services and investigating authorities, defence lawyers and courts would enable a more expedient and efficient preparation of the proceedings before the court.
Figure 45: Prosecution service: electronic communication tools, 2021(*) (source: European Commission (
(*) Maximum possible: 5 points. For each criterion, one point was given if secure electronic communication is available for prosecution services. 0.5 was awarded when the possibility does not exist in all cases. Availability of electronic communication tools within prosecution service includes communication with lawyers employed by the prosecution service.
– Online access to courts –
The ability to carry out specific steps in a judicial procedure electronically is an important aspect of the quality of justice systems. The electronic submission of claims, the possibility to monitor and advance a proceeding online or serve documents electronically can tangibly facilitate access to justice for citizens and businesses (or their legal representatives) and reduce delays and costs. The availability of such digital public services would help bring courts one step closer to citizens and businesses, and by extension increase public trust in the justice system.
Figure 46: Digital solutions to initiate and follow proceedings in civil/commercial and administrative cases, 2021(*) (source: European Commission (
(*) Maximum possible: 9 points. For each criterion, one point was given if the possibility exists in all civil/commercial and administrative cases, respectively. 0.5 point was awarded when the possibility does not exist in all cases. For those Member States that do not distinguish civil/commercial and administrative cases, the same number of points has been given for both areas.
The use of digital tools for conducting and following court proceedings in criminal cases, can also help guarantee the rights of victims and defendants. For example, digital solutions can enable confidential remote communication between defendants and their lawyers, allow defendants in detention to prepare for their hearing and help victims of crime avoid secondary victimisation.
Figure 47: Digital solutions to conduct and follow court proceedings in criminal cases, 2021(*) (source: European Commission (
(*) Maximum possible: 6 points. For each criterion, one point was given if the possibility exists in all criminal cases. 0.5 point was awarded when the possibility does not exists in all cases.
– Access to judgments –
Ensuring online access to judgments increases the transparency of justice systems, helps citizens and businesses understand their rights and can contribute to consistency in case-law. The arrangements for publishing judicial decisions online are essential for creating user-friendly search facilities (
) that make case-law more accessible to legal professionals and the general public. Seamless access to and easy reuse of case-law makes the justice system algorithm-friendly, enabling innovative ‘legal tech’ applications that support practitioners.
The online publication of court decisions requires balancing a variety of interests, within the boundaries set by legal and policy frameworks. The General Data Protection Regulation () fully applies to the processing of personal data by courts. When assessing what data to make public, a fair balance has to be struck between the right to data protection and the right to publicise court decisions to ensure the transparency of the justice system. This is particularly true when there is a prevailing public interest that justifies the disclosure of those data. In many countries, the law or practice requires the anonymisation or pseudonymisation (
) of judicial decisions before publication, either systematically or upon request. Data produced by the judiciary are also governed by EU legislation on open data and the reuse of public sector information (
The availability of judicial decisions in a machine-readable format (
) facilitates an algorithm-friendly justice system (
Figure 48: Online access to published judgments by the general public, 2021 (*) (civil/commercial, administrative and criminal cases, all instances) (source: European Commission (
(*) Maximum possible: 9 points. For each court instance, one point was given if all judgments are available for civil/commercial and administrative and criminal cases respectively, 0.75 points when most judgments (more than 50% are available) and 0.5 points when some judgments (less than 50%) are available. For Member States with only two court instances, points have been given for three court instances by mirroring the respective higher instance court of the non-existing instance. For those Member States that do not distinguish the two areas of law (civil/commercial and administrative), the same number of points has been given for both areas. BE: for civil and criminal cases, each court is in charge of deciding on the publication of its own judgments. DE: each federal state decides on online availability of first instance judgments. AT: for first and second instance, judges decide which judgments are published. Decisions of the Supreme Court that reject an appeal without substantial reasoning are not published. Decisions of the Supreme Administrative Court taken by a single judge are published if the judge concerned decides to publish them. Furthermore, decisions only containing legal issues where there already is continuous jurisprudence of the Supreme Administrative Court and non-complicated decisions concerning discontinuance of proceedings are not published. NL: courts decide on publication according to published criteria. PT: a commission within the court decides on the publication. SI: procedural decisions with little or no significance for the case-law are not published; from decisions in cases, which are identical in substance (e.g. bulk cases), only the leading decision is published (together with the list of case files with the same content). Individual higher courts decide which judgments can be published. SK: decisions on several types of civil cases, such as in inheritance matters or determining of paternity are not published. FI: courts decide which judgments are published.
Figure 49: Arrangements for producing machine-readable judicial decisions, 2021 (*) (civil/commercial, administrative and criminal cases, all instances) (source: European Commission (
(*) Maximum possible: 24 points per type of case. For each of the three instances (first, second, final) one point can be given if all judicial decisions are covered. If only some judicial decisions are covered at a given instance, only half a point is awarded. Where a Member State has only two instances, points have been given for three instances by mirroring the respective higher instance as the non-existing instance. For those Member States that do not distinguish between administrative and civil/commercial cases, the same points have been allocated for both areas of law. ES: The use of the General Council for the Judiciary (CGPJ) database for commercial purposes, or the massive download of information is not allowed. The reuse of this information for developing databases or for commercial purposes must follow the procedure and conditions established by the CGPJ through its Judicial Documentation Centre. IE: anonymisation of judgments is done in family law, child care and other areas where statute requires or a judge directs the identities of parties or persons not to be disclosed.
3.2.5. Summary on the quality of justice systems
Easy access, sufficient resources, effective assessment tools and digitalisation all contribute to a high quality justice system. Citizens and business expect high quality decisions from an effective justice system. The 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard makes a comparative analysis of these factors.
The 2022 edition looks again at a number of elements that contribute to a citizen-friendly justice system:
·The availability of legal aid and the level of court fees have a major impact on access to justice, in particular for people living in poverty. Figure 25 shows that in some Member States, consumers whose income is below the Eurostat poverty threshold would not receive legal aid. Compared to 2020, legal aid has become more accessible in around a third of Member States - especially partial legal aid - and more restricted in two Member States. This contrasts with the previous trend of legal aid becoming less accessible in some Member States. The level of court fees (Figure 26) has remained largely stable since 2016, although several Member States have raised the level of court fees for low value claims. The burden of court fees continues to be proportionally higher for low value claims. Difficulties in benefiting from legal aid combined with high levels of court fees in some Member States could dissuade people living in poverty from attempting to access justice.
·The level of court fees for commercial litigation (Figure 27) varies greatly between Member States (ranging from 0.1% to 6% of the value of the claim), with only two Member States having no court fee at all. Compared to 2020, the level of court fees has remained largely stable, with only two Member States lowering and one Member State increasing the fee. Figure 28 shows to what extent legal costs can be recovered by the winning party in a commercial case. There are large differences in the recoverability of legal fees for the litigious phase between Member States with and without a statutory fee system, as well as within these groups (in particular between more and less generous statutory fee systems). In addition, in many Member States the recoverability of legal costs is at the discretion of the courts. A system's level of generosity for recovering legal fees can either incentivise or deter someone from filing a case, affecting overall access to justice.
·The 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard continues to analyse the ways in which Member States promote voluntary use of alternative dispute resolution methods (ADR) (Figure 29), including the possibility of using digital technologies. Compared to 2020, a third of Member States increased their promotion efforts while around the same number decreased their efforts. In general, the number of ways to promote ADR methods tends to be lower for administrative disputes than for civil and commercial, labour or consumer disputes, but a slightly increased effort can be observed in this area compared to 2020.
·For the first time, the 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard takes stock of the specific arrangements in place to support persons with disabilities in accessing justice on equal basis with others. Figure 30 shows that all Member States have at least some arrangements in place - mostly procedural accommodations or information available in accessible formats. Specific formats, such as in Braille, sign language or easy-to-read, are available upon request in more than half of Member States. Digital solutions for civil and commercial cases, administrative cases as well as criminal cases at first instance court are also accessible for persons with disabilities in just over half of Member States.
·Also for the first time, the 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard maps certain aspects of judicial control over acts and omissions of public administration based on specific business scenarios. Figure 31 shows that in almost all Member States companies may receive financial compensation for damage caused by administrative decisions or by administrative silence and that courts may stay the enforcement of administrative decisions. These elements may have an impact on the investor confidence, the business environment and the functioning of the single market, which warrants closer monitoring and analysis.
·The 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard provides a deeper analysis of the measures Member States have in place to ensure a child-friendly justice system. In particular, it refines the selection of arrangements in different types of proceedings presented in Figure 32 and distinguishes (in Figure 33) between a child involved in the proceedings as a victim and a child that is a suspect or accused person. Figure 32 shows that all Member States make at least some accommodations for children, most frequently ensuring that they are treated appropriately according to their specific needs and rights. Almost all Member States also provide training courses for judges on child-friendly justice. Figure 33 illustrates the variation between Member States in this area, showing comparatively fewer specific arrangements available for children involved in proceedings as suspects or accused persons in about a third of Member States.
High quality justice systems in Member States depend on sufficient financial and human resources. This requires appropriate investment in physical and technical infrastructure, initial and continuous training, and diversity among judges, including gender balance. The 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard shows:
·In terms of financial resources, the data show that, overall, in 2020, general government total expenditure on law courts continued to remain mostly stable in Member States, with significant differences in actual amounts, both in EUR per inhabitant and as a percentage of GDP between Member States persisting (Figures 34 and 35). Almost all Member States increased their expenditure as a percentage of GDP in 2020 (an increase compared to 2019) and a majority also increased their expenditure per capita.
·Women still account for fewer than 50% of judges at Supreme Court level in most Member States (Figure 37). Figures for the three-year period 2019-2021 show diverging levels and trends between Member States, but since 2010, the proportion of female judges at Supreme Court level has risen in most Member States.
·To improve communication with vulnerable groups (Figure 39), most Member States provide training on how to best communicate with victims of gender-based and/or domestic violence, and more than two thirds provide training on communicating with asylum seekers and with people from different cultural, religious, ethnic or linguistic backgrounds. Around half of Member States provide training on how to communicate with visually or hearing impaired persons. Furthermore, more than two thirds of Member States provide training on the use of social media and/or communication with the media, and around half raise awareness and provide training on dealing with disinformation.
·The use of surveys among court users and legal professionals (Figure 40) was lower in 2020 than in the preceding years, with a stable number of Member States opting not to conduct any surveys. However, the Member States that did not conduct surveys are not always the same as last year, indicating that some of them conduct surveys every other/every few years. Accessibility, customer service, court hearings and judgments, as well as the overall trust in the justice system, remain recurring topics for surveys, but only a few Member States inquired about the satisfaction of groups with special needs or about individuals’ awareness of their rights.
Since its 2021 edition, the EU Justice Scoreboard includes a large section examining in detail aspects related to the digitalisation of justice. Although most Member States already use digital solutions in different contexts and to varying degree, there is significant room for improvement.
·Almost all Member States have some online information about their judicial system, including websites with visible and understandable information on how to access legal aid, and on court fees and eligibility criteria for their reduction (Figure 41). But differences exist between Member States on the level of information and the degree to which it responds to people’s needs. For example, not many Member States (only 13) provide an interactive online simulation where people can find out whether they are eligible for legal aid. On the other hand, most Member States provide a website with online forms for companies and individuals, and information for non-native speakers.
·Fewer than half of Member States have digital-ready procedural rules (Figure 42), which allow fully for the use of distance communication and for the admissibility of evidence in digital format only. In the remaining Member States this is possible only in limited number of situations. Nonetheless, since 2020 there has been progress in almost half of Member States.
·On the use of digital technology by courts and prosecution services (Figure 43), most Member States already have various digital tools at the disposal of courts, prosecutors and staff members. Although most Member States have case-management systems, videoconferencing systems and teleworking arrangements in place, further progress is needed in automating case allocation systems and in making artificial intelligence and block chain based tools more widely available.
·Courts in most Member States have secure electronic tools for communication at their disposal. In a number of Member States, however, courts can only communicate via secure electronic means with certain legal professionals and/or national authorities (Figure 44). In the case of prosecution services (Figure 45), more than a third of Member States comprehensively provide for secure electronic communication with legal professionals and national institutions, which represents progress compared to 2020.
·In civil/commercial and administrative cases, most Member States provide individuals and businesses (or their legal representatives) with online access to their ongoing or closed cases (Figure 46), albeit to various degrees. In more than a third of Member States, individuals and businesses benefited from an improved online access compared to 2020. Nevertheless, in criminal cases (Figure 47) in most Member States defendants and victims have very limited possibilities to follow or carry out part of their case electronically despite improvements in about a half of the Member States.
·The 2022 Scoreboard assesses the data on online access to court judgments (Figure 48) in more detail in order to provide a more accurate picture of the situation in the Member States. The results therefore differ from last year. In particular, on the publication of judgments at the highest instance: 22 Member States publish all civil/commercial and administrative judgments and 22 Member States also publish criminal judgments. Nevertheless, online publication of judgments at second instance is more rare, with only ten Member States publishing all second instance court judgments.
·The 2022 EU Justice Scoreboard continues to analyse arrangements in the Member States to help produce machine-readable judicial decisions (Figure 49). All Member States have at least some arrangements in place for civil/commercial, administrative and criminal cases although there is considerable variation between Member States. It appears that administrative courts are relatively more advanced in granting seamless access to and facilitating easy reuse of case-law by ‘legal tech’ companies. In general, there is a tendency to introduce more arrangements, particularly for the availability of metadata in judgments on key words, dates of decisions and the regulation of personal data in the published judgments. Ten Member States reported an improvement in 2021 compared with the previous year. Justice systems where arrangements for modelling judgments according to standards enabling their machine readability have been put in place seem to have the potential to achieve better results in the future.