Government unveils ambitious reform of justice system
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil unveiled ambitious plans to overhaul the Czech Republic’s inefficient and painfully slow justice system on Monday. The plans – ranging from allowing people to communicate by email to reshuffling the way courts are staffed and run – are set to be introduced gradually over the next two years.
The problem is not a shortage of judges. In fact, according to international statistics, the Czech Republic has one of the highest number of judges per head of population in the world. At the moment, the figure is 3,028 judges in a population of over 10 million, which amounts to one judge per 3,400 people. Either they’re not working very hard, or the system itself is inefficient and needs reform. The Justice Ministry clearly believe it’s the latter.
The government also wants to make the courts run more efficiently. To that end, the Justice Ministry is planning an audit of people working in the courts, particularly administrative staff and plans to increase the number of senior court officials. It wants to change the composition of tribunals set up to examine mistrials and mistakes made by judges, allowing laymen such as lawyers and notaries to sit on such tribunals, rather than just other judges. That’s meant to improve the impartiality of such tribunals, which would also be allowed to dismiss judges.