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27 November 2017

Efficiency in Civil Case Management within Basic Courts

The National Audit Office published the performance audit report on “Efficiency in Civil Case Management within Basic Courts”.

Through thi saudit, we have assessed the process of managing with court cases by the Basic Courts and assessed the work of the Kosovo Judicial Council in monitoring the progress of these Courts and establishing mechanisms to support them in proper case management.

The management process of civil cases in the Basic Courts is not efficient, and this audit report contains very important information and interest to be reviewed by audited entities, the Assembly, citizens and stakeholders.

The National Audit Office identified irregularities and has drawn conclusions aiming to highlight important issues to be addressed.

Courts continue to face a considerable number of old cases that remain unresolved, as well as the total number of civil cases, despite not being reduced, is constantly increasing. As a result of the large number of civil cases in the Basic Courts, citizens are obliged to wait for long time for their cases to be reviewed and finalised. At the same time, concerning is the fact that the trend of cases that remain unresolved from year to year is constantly increasing and if no measures are taken to improve this situation, then the judiciary may end up in collapse.

The management process of civil case has been characterised by numerous irregularities in all its phases. The current procedures established in the Basic Courts to distribute civil cases to judges are not uniform, and in all three Courts audited, each of the procedures applied has been characterised by its own irregularities. These irregularities have been evident since the initial phase of distributing civil cases to judges, the completion and clarifying the lawsuits, inadequate grouping of cases by legal secretaries, ongoing adjudication of court hearings, and delays in adjudicating cases within the Court of Appeals as well as the high rate of cases returned for re-trial in the Basic Courts. Further on, there were also shortcomings in practices applied by the judges themselves to balance the different types of civil cases under consideration.

The Kosovo Judicial Council has been effective in properly monitoring the progress achieved in the Courts. Kosovo Judicial Council has established generalised mechanisms that do not provide sufficient support to the Basic Courts in case management. This means that the generalised mechanisms established by the Council make it difficult to monitor the progress achieved by the Court in reducing the number of court cases and are not appropriate to the Courts to address the irregularities found in court case management.

Judicial power is considered to be the third power of a state. The judiciary under the constitution must be unique, independent, fair, apolitical and impartial and ensure equal access of citizens to the courts. The European Convention on Human Rights clearly states that every individual has the right to be heard fairly, publicly and within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court established by law.

Therefore, the National Audit Office gave its recommendations aimed at ensuring that the responsible authorities, respectively the Basic Courts and the Kosovo Judicial Council to implement effective practices and based on sound and functional case management within Courts and provide the proper services for citizens.

Full report can be read on: