Webinar – managing pandemic measures in courts

The corona pandemic has had and continues to have a big impact on our societies. The courts are no exception from this. One had to find short and long-term solutions in order to keep the wheels turning, but also to protect judges, court staff, litigants and the public from the virus. The information that we have at hand suggests that the solutions vary and there are lessons to be shared between our jurisdictions. Therefore, this webinar will bring together professionals from several national jurisdictions that will share their experience in addressing the corona crisis in courts.

Going beyond the national measures, it is of interest to find out how the Strasbourg Court addresses the crisis, what is its view on the different measures that were put in place at national level and how the derogations from the charter were used. Arnfinn Baardsen, judge at the European Court of Human Rights, will talk about this aspects. 

You can find minutes from the webinar here.

Speech by Arnfinn Bårdsen, EctHR judge "Covid-19 and the European Court of Human Rights" can be find here. 

Expected outcome: participants will share best practices and lesson learned, the webinar will open for closer cooperation on narrower topics in the future

Suggested points for discussion:

In their presentation, representatives from every country will be encouraged to cover relevant points from the list below: 

  1. Case handling during corona lockdown/peak of restrictive measures (generally on the impact on courts, one can include brief information on the following: what type and number of cases were handled during the lockdown, number of postponements, extensions of statute of limitations, which cases were defined as urgent cases);
  2. Solutions to mitigate the effects of the lockdown/peak of restrictive measures on the work of courts (e.g. use of video and audio link in court proceedings, use of modern IT in light of the pandemic, use of written procedure, restricting or ending jury trials, measures to limit the transmission of the coronavirus in court houses (distancing, hygiene measures, etc.);
  3. Impact of the corona pandemic on sentencing practices (both sentence reduction in criminal trials as a compensation for accepting hearings via video link and as a mechanism for avoiding prison overcrowding);
  4. Measures to reduce the backlog of cases after the lockdowns are lifted;
  5. The new normality - long term changes to court procedures (more digitalization, encouraging lawyers and prosecutors to sumbit e-filings (procesual documents), use of depository boxes, encouraging or requiring more audio and video link meetings, restricting entry into courts, siloed team staffing, etc.).

Practical information:

Date: 10:00 (Brussels time), 25.06.2020

Participants: Judges, representatives from judicial self-administration bodies and representatives from Ministries of Justice from Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, Norway and Romania. Due to technical reasons, not more than 25 participants from each country should attend. 

Speakers: Each country will appoint 2 speakers, one practician from the Court and a person in charge with policy making / legislative changes. A judge from the ECHR will also participate as a speaker. 

Join the meeting in Zoom: click here or join the meeting by the invitation that was sent in outlook.

Agenda: can be downloaded here

Webinar assessment - a poll will be conducted at the end of the webinar. The answers are to help us find out if the webinar was useful and how the distance meeting worked. The poll will be conducted anonymously, the provider of the poll is contracted by the NCA and is complying with EU’s data protection directives. Only statistical data will be stored by the NCA.

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