Serbia Justice Functional Review

External Performance Assessment > Efficiency in the Delivery of Justice Services

d. Procedural Efficiency and Efficacy

  1. The court system’s ability to process cases is significantly affected by how the court is organized and managed, whether procedural tools are available to judges, and how their work can be facilitated or obstructed by others.This section reviews several indicators of procedural efficiency, corresponding to indicator 1.4 of the Performance Framework. As opposed to arguments that higher caseloads always require more judges or more work, these reforms explore ways to facilitate performance by enabling courts to deliver higher (or same) quality services in less time while reducing the pressure and burden on judges and staff. The Committee of Ministers to the Council of Europe and the CCJE suggested standards for hearings and adjournments, but indicators for these issues are best tailored to the individual country.265
  2. In contrast with the previous discussion, this section relies less on caseload statistics and more on survey results, legal analysis, and key informant interviews.The case management systems do not generate reports that could be used for determining the procedural causes of delays, or indicators that might be used to track improvements.266 Such capabilities are available but data is not entered. It will be important to remedy this oversight to ensure that procedural efficiency can be monitored and improved through the collection and analysis of data.267 Improved procedural efficiency likely requires a suite of targeted and calibrated reforms, which will need to be effectively monitored.

i. Service of Process

  1. The service of process plays a critical and frequent role in Serbian court proceedings.Procedural laws require that parties be notified via service of process at every stage of the proceeding, and decisions have effect only from the date that process is served. As a result, a high number of services are required.268
  2. Users experienced difficulties in locating the address of relevant parties prior to the service of process.269Obtaining an address often requires the cooperation of other state bodies such as the police, various line ministries, or the Agency for Commercial Registers. Stakeholders report that these bodies are routinely unresponsive. Recent procedural amendments now require the police to assist courts in delivery of process,270 but enhanced cooperation between courts and police will be necessary for this to work in practice. Within courts, there are also some delays in preparing services of process due to cumbersome internal processes. For an example of how the Subotica Basic Court has streamlined the internal process, see Box 20 of the Governance and Management Chapter.
  3. Once addresses are obtained, 57 percent of attempts at service fail on average.There are no standard AVP or SAPS reports that track or compare the service of process across different courts and/or different periods. To improve performance, data should be collected and analyzed on the number of services, success rates, and costs.
  4. Avoiding the service of process is easy.271The postal service delivers only in the daytime when most people are at work. In cities, receipt is difficult to verify when apartment letterboxes are not sealed.

Box 8: Innovation and Efficiency Stifled in Novi Sad

The Misdemeanor Court in Novi Sad used the Sloboda Youth Employment Agency as its internal delivery service in the city of Novi Sad as well as the municipalities in Veternik, Futog and Petrovaradin. Sloboda couriers were paid 40RSD per successful delivery. According to the Misdemeanor Court, success rates ranged from 75-80%, resulting in the delivery of 7,000-10,000 documents per month. Their couriers repeatedly attempted service of process for the same price by going several times in a single day to the address of the party. They also provided the court with observations from the field, which facilitated further procedural steps such as advising if the address was invalid or if the person no longer lived there. Couriers were also willing to work after regular work hours and on weekends, when residents are more likely to be home.

According to the Court President:

‘Sloboda provided an astounding contribution to more efficient operation of the court, in pre-trial process, during court proceedings, and later in the phase of enforcement of court decisions. They also facilitated more effective enforcement of deadlines that are essential in legal proceedings, and therefore helped us reduce the number of cases that collapse by falling under the statute of limitations. Their work significantly improved our fines collection rate and increased inflow of funds to the budget.’

Despite the success, the Misdemeanor Court discontinued its cooperation with Sloboda in 2014. The 2014 budget for the court was only partially approved, and the line item for internal delivery service was cut to one-quarter of the sum. The Misdemeanor Court returned to using the postal service, where it is safer to accumulate arrears, and expenses can be more easily masked within general administration.

  1. Stakeholders are unanimous that the postal service is ineffective. Further, there is little incentive for the Postal Service to improve, because it charges per attempt of service.273 Postal workers are poorly paid, earning approximately 200EUR per month, and are reluctant to risk venturing into bad neighborhoods. In smaller towns, postal workers are known to help residents avoid service either as a favor to friends/relatives or in exchange for a bribe.274 Postal service workers also receive minimal training.
  2. Some courts are attempting to manage the performance of the postal service, with some success. The Basic Court in Uzice has an MOU with the Uzice Postal Service for service of process, in which the Postal Service agrees to make two attempts in exchange for its 44RSD fee. The postal service also agreed to give special attention to the service of process in rural areas. On average, the Basic Court in Uzice has no arrears and spends approximately 34,000EUR per year for all postal services, including services of process and delivery of other court decisions and legal acts, as well as regular mail. Under this arrangement, approximately 60 percent of their deliveries are successful.
  3. Improvements in the mechanism for delivery could reap significant improvements in court efficiency.
  4. Recent amendments to the Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes could each improve the efficiency of the service of process.The new CPC introduces much broader means of service, including several options for who may receive personal delivery.275 Successive amendments to the Law on Civil Procedure follows a different track, creating new forms of delivery and imposing deadlines for procedural milestones and penalties for parties engaging in dilatory practices.276 If implemented and monitored effectively, these reforms could transform the efficacy of delivery in the medium term and improve timeliness of disposition across the board. Progress should be monitored carefully with statistical data, and reforms calibrated over time to achieve desired results. Without reform to arrangements with the service providers, however, full implementation may be thwarted.
  5. Compared with other European countries, Serbia is not a top scorer for fast service of process but has seemingly improved.According to the CEPEJ, in 2010 Serbia was one of eight countries where notification of a court decision on debt collection took the most time (11-30 days), but by 2012, Serbia had jumped to the 6-10 days category.277 Recent procedural reforms combined with improved mechanisms for service provision could improve Serbia’s rankings.

ii. Scheduling and Hearings

  1. Several factors drive efficiency in the scheduling of hearings, including the number of hearings per case, the timeliness of their scheduling, and the frequency of cancellations and adjournments. Judiciaries concerned about how these factors affect productivity require that their CMS records the number and dates of hearings, adjournments, and the lapsed time between a cancelled hearing and the new date.
  2. The European guidance is instructive.In its Principles of Civil Procedure Designed to Improve the Functioning of Justice, the Committee of Ministers to the Council of Europe, recommend for civil cases:

    ‘not more than two hearings, one preliminary and the second for evidence, arguments and, if possible judgments, with no adjournments except when new facts appear and in other exceptional and important circumstances.278

    The CCJE qualifies the recommendation by noting the differences in practice among EU members and varying needs of case types, but it stresses the importance of the judges’ in controlling the timetable and duration of proceedings, setting firm dates, and exercising their power to refuse unwarranted adjournments. In some instances, courts have suggested limits on the number of hearings for any case. New procedural codes in many countries try to limit the number of hearings by consolidating those occurring at similar stages of a case’s trajectory. Unfortunately, there is often little follow-up to determine whether fewer hearings are held, or how the reforms impact on service delivery.
  3. Several months usually pass between case filing and the first hearing.While some time interval is clearly required, stakeholders in interviews suggested that this time lag is excessive for first instance cases. Court users in the Multi-Stakeholder Justice Survey reported that the time lag in criminal cases is usually around four months, three months in civil and misdemeanor cases, and over two months for business sector representatives281 (see Figure 41).
  4. Courts generally only schedule hearings in the mornings. When asked why hearings are not scheduled in the afternoons, the answer is usually ‘it’s always been done that way’. Other responses noted that ‘people do not like to work in the afternoons’ or prosecutors and attorneys might not be available. Most of the modern judiciaries in Europe and elsewhere run a tight courtroom roster, particularly in lower courts, to maximize the use of valuable courtrooms, judges, and staff throughout the day. Commonly, courtrooms that are not used for full day hearings are scheduled for shorter hearings by one judge in the morning and another one in the afternoon. By tightening courtroom rosters in the Basic and Higher Courts in Serbia, particularly for civil cases, judges could increase the pace of hearings and reduce the length of proceedings while maximizing the use of limited courtrooms.280 Over time, schedules calibrate and more efficient habits are formed. Such reforms are often accompanied with electronic diaries (described above).
  5. Several months usually pass between case filing and the first hearing. While some time interval is clearly required, stakeholders in interviews suggested that this time lag is excessive for first instance cases. Court users in the Multi-Stakeholder Justice Survey reported that the time lag in criminal cases is usually around four months, three months in civil and misdemeanor cases, and over two months for business sector representatives281 (see Figure 41).
  1. Similarly, there is a time lag between each hearing. Court users report that, on average, three months pass between hearings in first instance cases.283 However, there is much variation across the country. In interviews, litigating attorneys who worked in courts throughout the country report that a court in Eastern/Southern Serbia could reschedule a hearing within several weeks. However, in courts dealing with the largest share of cases, this is more difficult. In Belgrade, it routinely takes three months or longer and stakeholders assume that the reason for delay in Belgrade is the large caseloads of judges. However, as shown in the Efficiency Chapter, the numbers of disposed cases per judge are high in Belgrade First Basic Court (1,472) and Second Basic Court (1,123), but not much higher than in Zrenjanin (1,017) or Bor (962) where one might have a closer hearing date. Therefore, the causes for scheduling delays may not be due solely to workload.
  2. Hearings sometimes close sine die,284 particularly in cancelled or adjourned hearings. The next hearing date is set only after the hearing has finished and the parties are notified. This practice is never recommended and should be avoided (CCJE Opinion 6, 2004). The modern practice (reportedly used in Belgrade for criminal cases) is for each and every hearing to end with the setting of the next hearing date, circumventing the need to notify all parties (except of course those not present) by service of process, and enabling the parties to plan accordingly.
  3. Ready solutions are available, and practitioners and court users alike expect better scheduling. Simple time management techniques could yield results, including the scheduling of afternoon hearings, the setting of hearing dates at the conclusion of each hearing, the automation of schedules, and the monitoring by Court Presidents and Court Managers of scheduling timeliness. The results could be significant, particularly in busy and backlogged courts.

iii. Average Numbers of Hearings

  1. Users reported that four hearings were scheduled on average in first instance criminal and civil cases, two hearings in misdemeanor cases, and three hearings in business cases. The number of hearings has not changed since 2009 (see Figure 42). However, averages hide variations within case types.285

iv. Average Number of Cancelled Hearings and Adjournments and their Reasons

  1. The Serbian court system does not collect or monitor data on the number of cancelled or adjourned hearings. In Basic and Higher Courts, AVP can record these cancellations and adjournments, but court staff does not input the data and there are no reports that enable managers to analyze the results. This is out-of-step with European practice, where adjourned cases are monitored in over 40 countries.287
  2. A substantial percentage of court hearings are cancelled or adjourned. According to estimates from judges, lawyers, and court users in the Multi-Stakeholder Justice Survey, more than 20 percent of cancelled hearings in first instance criminal and civil cases are cases involving businesses.288 In Misdemeanor Courts, the percentage of canceled hearings was lower at 12 percent (see Figure 43). Given that rescheduling can take up to three months, a single adjournment might lead to a six-month period of inactivity in a particular case.
  1. The obstruction of proceedings by a party is the most common cause for delay (see Figure 44). While obstructions occur in any system, it is particularly severe in the Serbian courts. Obstruction takes several forms. Stakeholders report that the most common delay tactics include:
    1. Avoidance of service of process by parties and non-parties (see above).
    2. Absence from proceedings due to easily procured sickness certificates.
    3. Interference with witnesses to arrange their non-appearance or to influence their testimony.
    4. Abuse of procedural laws by attorneys.
    Using courts as an instrument of delay is the antithesis of the justice service delivery, and loopholes should be closed tightly so the judiciary’s resources can be focused on delivering justice.
  2. Non-parties are also a common cause for delay (see Figure 44). The excessive reliance on expert witnesses is common and is reportedly caused by a fear among judges that the Appellate Courts will not support a judge’s decision to decline the expertise of a witness, even if that witness adds little value. With more expert witnesses, proceedings take longer. Experts may also have good reasons for not appearing, such as poor scheduling by the court and backlogs of arrears owed to them. Some reportedly issue biased or low-quality reports that stimulate arguments between the parties. The blame for delay can be shared and various improvements could be identified across the board.
  3. A further frustration is the delay caused by transferring case files. In cases which transfer between courts, it can take several months for the file to be transferred from one court to another, even when the two courts share the same building. This process clearly slows down the resolution of the dispute and is unsatisfactory from the perspective of the parties. During the two painful re- organizations of the court network in 2010 and again in 2014, there were serious problems in locating and transferring files between courts and between PPOs. On some occasions, files have been misplaced or lost altogether. With a disorganized filing system (as shown in the picture here) there is always room for mistakes and potential abuses. Such dysfunctions can be simply remedied through basic document management, the use of barcodes and increased use of available scanning technology
  4. Transfers of cases between judges has also caused delays. Large-scale re-assignments of cases between courts and judges occurred in 2009/2010 and again in 2013/2014, as part of the two painful re-organizations of the court network. The transfers caused a significant amount of ‘churn’ and unnecessary work for the system, as court staff sent and received files and judges, prosecutors and assistants became familiar with materials on the file. Mass transfers also altered the incentives of judges to commence or continue cases, and several stakeholders reported that judges were ‘sitting on cases’ during the transition period. In focus group discussions, court users frequently complained that the case transfer was a common cause for delay. Now that the court network has stabilized, such large-scale transfers should be avoided in future. Transfers of cases can be useful, particularly when cases are transferred early in the case processing chain from overly-burdened courts to nearby less-busy courts. In future, however, such transfers should be targeted and should occur in a more orderly fashion to prevent delays.
  1. There is a connection between excessive numbers of hearings, adjournments, and delays. A large number of hearings dilute the importance of each hearing resulting in a lack of preparation, non-appearances, and adjournments. As multiple actors are required to be notified of each hearing, a large number of hearings exacerbate the problems of service of process, causing adjournments and delays. In focus group discussions, users complain that a large number of hearings requires significant personal involvement and is time-consuming. Those working in private companies face challenges due to absences from work. All agree that more hearings increase costs and stress.291

v. Efficiency in Prison Transfers

  1. Stakeholders also reported that prison transfers cause delays in criminal hearings. There are no court statistics to show the magnitude of the problem, but prison administration and other stakeholders report that such delays occur regularly.292
  2. The lack of planning and coordination between the court and the prison administration means that transfers are not as smooth as they could be. When the court does not plan efficiently and provides short notice to the Prison Administration, the latter is often incapable of producing the prisoner in time. Advance notice and two-way dialogue could overcome these challenges. A few courts have seen some positive results from ‘grouping transfers’ (i.e., scheduling hearings for detainees from the same prisons on the same day), and lessons could be learned from these experiences.293
  3. Arrears can be the cause for delays, as several prisons are owed significant arrears by the courts.294 As a response, some prisons now require advanced payments in order to cover the costs before producing the prisoners to the hearings, while other prisons are simply less responsive to the requests. With the new CPC implemented in October 2013, the transfer of inmates for hearings and interviews during the investigation phase will presumably be covered by the prosecutors’ budget. However, there is no evidence that this has been taken into account in the preparation of the prosecution budget for 2014.
  4. To a lesser extent, delays are due to a combination of physical and material challenges. Some prison administrations lack the needed vehicles and fuel to facilitate the transfers, and this is partly due to the arrears they are owed. Some courts also lack sufficient infrastructure to hold the prisoners on the day of the hearing, and anecdotal evidence suggests some prisoners are guarded in public waiting areas in proximity to the parties.
  5. There are ready solutions for each of these issues. Basic improvements in planning, coordination, and financial management could improve the efficiency in transfers immediately. Courts could offer to be more flexible in working with the prison administration to schedule hearings in blocks or to stagger hearings time to enable prisons to deliver more efficiently. Dialogue between individual courts and prison officials could produce pragmatic solutions. Longer term solutions could include improved bail arrangements, upgrading of holding cells in some courthouses and introducing videoconferencing services some of the larger courts and prisons.

vi. Use of Modern Case Management Techniques

  1. Preparatory departments have the potential to transform the case management process by ensuring that hearings are ready to proceed and run smoothly. Judges, court staff, and practicing attorneys interviewed acknowledged that these departments would be useful, particularly for ensuring that cases are ready for hearing. Since the introduction of these departments to the Court Rules in 2010, judicial staff is working well to ready cases for hearing and address procedural issues. However, many places do not use these departments and should consider prioritizing their creation (for discussion of preparatory departments, see Governance and Management Chapter).
  2. A type of pre-trial hearing to set schedules and resolve some initial issues has been introduced in recent amendments to the Civil Procedure Law and CPC. This change could help a great number of hearings to run more smoothly. It will be important to track whether such hearings are held, whether they circumvent the need for subsequent hearings, and reduce disposition times.
  3. Hearings could also be further consolidated. Under the current law, hearings are often disjointed and piecemeal even in the trial stage. Therefore, attempts to condense hearings295 may help improve this issue. Once the preparatory departments are capable of ensuring trial readiness, consolidated hearings could become the norm. Again, a better use of AVP and its integration would enable these reforms to be monitored to measure the impact of reforms.
  4. The use of hearings to convey or exchange information that might be otherwise provided in writing is another issue. Written and e-mail exchanges, and telephone conferences on simple issues are common practices in modern judiciaries across Europe and elsewhere. Currently in Serbia, oral statements play a predominant role, including in party requests to admit or exclude certain evidence, call for new witnesses, presentation of legitimate documentary evidence, or other motions including for adjournments. Some of these communications could be effectively conducted in written form and could serve as a prelude to inform the hearing. Through the increased use of written communication, the court and the parties could make a more efficient use of the time intervals between hearings.

vii. Efficiency in the Substantive Conduct of Hearings

  1. A substantial percentage of hearings are perceived to be inefficient, as shown in Figure 45 below.
  1. Based on the data collected on the number of canceled and inefficient hearings, an efficiency index can be calculated to show the share of efficient hearings (hearings contributing to the resolution of a case) in the total number of scheduled hearings.297 The efficiency indexes show that, on average, 55 percent of hearings were productive in criminal cases, and 58 percent in civil cases (see Figure 46).
  1. Analysis of these data shows that as the number of scheduled hearings increases, the number of productive hearings decreases.299 This indicates that the extended duration of court proceedings is very likely not a consequence of specificities or complexity of given cases. Rather, the data reveal that the number of canceled and unproductive hearings is likely to rise with the extended duration of the proceedings.
  2. In hearings, the methods used for taking witness testimony are time-consuming are slow down the pace of hearings. Often the party or expert witness is required to give their statement several times to enable the judge and typist to dictate the evidence into the minutes. Some experienced and proactive expert witnesses dictate their statements directly to the minutes, but this is not common. Basic training on the use of word processing software and the electronic exchange of documents, could significantly improve the speed and accuracy of this process. (In the longer term, the use of audio or A/V recordings should also be considered.)300
  3. Lawyers also play a role in slowing down hearings and causing inefficiency. As lawyers are paid per hearing,301 they have a disincentive to deal with matters expeditiously. Frivolous claims are pursued without sanction and some lawyers are said to advise clients on how to obfuscate proceedings. Several stakeholders allege that lawyers drag out cases by encouraging (or at least not opposing) more procedural steps than necessary in an effort to increase billings. The Review team is unable to substantiate these claims.
  4. Recent amendments to the procedural codes seek to improve efficiency in the conduct of hearings. Measures include:
    1. The parties only propose evidence to be collected, and the judge decides which evidence is required to determine the key facts of the case.302
    2. The judge manages the hearing and interviews the parties, reviews the submitted evidence, and provides the parties with the right to speak.303
    3. The judge may fine a witness or an expert who does not appear when summoned, or otherwise impedes procedural activities or service delivery.304
  5. Despite their enhanced powers, adjournments and delays continue because judges are not yet assuming their new roles. This reluctance to manage the case proactively is caused by several factors. Judges may not understand their enhanced powers and may fear reprisals from the parties. Judges may also find it easier to let parties have their way, particularly in environments where judges and attorneys fraternize. Frequent changes in procedural laws also make judges uneasy – several judges reported that they prefer to wait for a colleague-judge take the first step and see how the Appellate Courts reacts. Further, some stakeholders point to a general passivity – a common attitude of ‘let’s wait and see’ among judges.
  6. Several lower court judges reported that appellate judges are not supportive of lower court judges’ attempts to improve procedural efficiency, limit abuses and push cases ahead. In their view, the Appellate Courts are likely to overrule a judge’s denial of requests for additional witnesses or evidence, and return the case for retrial to ‘get the case off their desk’.305 Evidently, improvements in the courts require a more proactive monitoring and encouragement from the judiciary’s leadership, the HJC, and disciplinary bodies. Clear support from upper level leaders will provide incentives to judges to change behaviors and will reduce their apprehensions.

viii. Efficiency in Joining Similar Cases

  1. The lack of joinder of similar cases also creates inefficiencies and delay. Stakeholders noted that it is not common for a claim and counter-claim to be dealt with as separate cases even when they are highly related, and doing so would be appropriate and in the interests of the parties. Frequently, the claim and counter-claim are considered as two separate cases, which may or may not be allocated to the same judge or the same court.
  2. Criminal compensation provides a practical example. Judges exercising criminal jurisdiction usually refuse to deal with compensation claims arising out of the proceeding. As a result, at the conclusion of the criminal case, the victim is required to initiate a new civil proceeding (including payment of additional court and lawyer fees), even for simple damages. This contributes to the inflated caseload, reduces access to justice for the parties, and prolongs the delay for the victim to recoup damages from the criminal conduct.
  3. Beyond claims and counter-claims and related proceedings, the lack of joinder of similar cases is another issue. Some courts are clogged with large numbers of cases where multiple parties’ cases deal with the same facts and law. The law on consumer protection envisages filing lawsuits aimed at protecting the collective interests of consumers, however Serbia’s first-ever class-action lawsuit commenced only in 2014 and is already under legal challenge. Regarding military pensions, Belgrade First Basic Court received around 24,000 incoming cases in 2013, and the court expects to receive around another 17,000 in 2014. The Court President there reports that although the cases are not complex, current legislation requires that courts deal with each case separately, which is cumbersome for both judges and the court staff.
  4. While joinder will not be appropriate in all cases, it may be appropriate in many.306 A separate resolution of claims and counter-claims can often double the length of the user’s dispute, as one case is stayed until the other is resolved. In multiple cases, the issue may become ‘stuck’ for many years. Unfortunately, AVP does not track the joining of cases, and no hard data are available to enable analysis of the problem impacts.
  5. There are several likely reasons as to why joinders are not common. First, productivity norms for judges incentivize the resolution of the large numbers of cases. There are no incentives to join cases in the interests of the parties because judges could double their workload for no benefit. Second, lawyers may not request joinders because multiple hearings improve their billings and therefore their revenues. Third, there seems to be limited guidance from the appellate jurisdictions as to when joinders are appropriate, making judges more reluctant.
  6. Encouragement to join cases appropriately could significantly improve procedural efficiency. Legislation could require that claims and counter-claims be joined appropriately, and that the same courts deal with compensation proceedings arising out of criminal proceedings. Higher Courts could provide greater guidance, and judges could be encouraged by incentives such as productivity norms to add ‘extra credit’ for appropriated joined cases. Joined cases could reduce the duplication of hearings and enable courts to focus their time on resolving the substantive dispute and providing justice to the parties. By reducing the possibility that different judges make different decisions on the same law and facts, joined cases can also promote a more coherent approach to cases, reducing appeals and improving consistency in the application of the law.

ix. Efficiency in the Appeal Process and the Extent of ‘Recycling’ of Cases

  1. A series of problems with appeal cases further undermine efficiency. Many of the data above are based on first instance cases, but appeals are alarmingly common in Serbia.307 Stakeholders report that many appeals were frivolous, lodged by attorneys to assist their clients to delay enforcement or for some other procedural or tactical advantage.
  2. First, there are inefficiencies in the process of transferring a case from the first instance court to the appellate court. Stakeholders report that the transfer of the case can take several months. It is common for hard-copy files to be lost. In the recent court re-networking in 2014 for example, thousands of appeals files have yet to be accounted for, causing delays for the parties in these cases. Such inefficiencies could be improved through basic record management, better use of existing ICT systems, and improved accountability among judges and court staff.
  3. Another common problem is the prevalence of retrials.308 When first instance decisions are over-turned, the appellate judge almost always sends the case back for retrial, rather than seeking to resolve the case.309 The result is a large percentage of incoming cases in first instances courts that do not represent true incoming cases. The practice is so prevalent that Serbian stakeholders have developed the term ‘old new cases’, and it occurs far more often than the law requires.
  4. This practice inflates caseload figures, duplicates workloads and frustrates court users and practitioners alike. Successive appeals elongate the duration of the proceedings – from the court users’ perspective, the full journey of their case can be two, three, or four times as long as the indicator for time to disposition might suggest. Recycling to this extent is unusual within Europe.
  5. On a positive note, the ‘recycling’ problem is subsiding. Recent reforms require that cases returning on their second appeal must not be sent back for further retrial. Instead, the appeal judge must substitute their own judgment.
  6. Additional measures could further encourage the most efficient use of the appeal system and ensure that only ‘hard cases’ are appealed. Joint symposia among lower and Appellate Courts could be convened to exchange experiences on the abuse of process issues. Fines could be imposed on frivolous appeals, and feedback from lower courts to higher courts could be encouraged.
  7. Again, better data are essential. The number of appeals, timeliness of appeals, and appeal outcomes should be tracked. Part of the problem is the inflation of caseload numbers, whereby a case that is appealed and retried is characterized in AVP as three separate cases. Better data collection and integration of ICT systems would enable appeals to be more thoroughly tracked to pinpoint and address inefficiencies.