Study visit of the delegation of Ministry of Justice and Public administration, London, March, 9-13 2014
Delegation of the Ministry of Justice and Public administration visited Ministry of Justice UK, London, from March 9 to March 13, 2014. Members of the delegation were Čedomir Backović, Assisstant Minister for European Integration and International Projects, Biljana Pavlović, Director of the Directorate for the Administration of Seized Assets and Milica Kolaković-Bojović, Consultant for Criminal Justice Reform. Study visit was aimed at presentation of UK legal justice system to the representatives of MOJPA, especially in relation with improvement of court proceedings efficiency. The main topics were: Recording of hearings in criminal proceedings, court statistics, establishing free legal aid system, case management and negotiation process- Chapter 23. Visit started with introduction meeting with Barry Snelgrove, Riaz Patel and Kimberley Davis from International Project team, Ministry of Justice UK. The meeting was aimed at twining project methodology, including examples of successful cooperation with third countries. Topic of second meeting was court statistics and data basses. Central information system of UK justice was represented to the members of Serbian delegation. The first day of visit was finished by meeting with representatives EU enlargement and FCO Western Balkans Team: Claire Lawrence, (Deputy Head of WBE), Peter Wilkinson (Serbia FCO Desk) & Nick Ryder (FCO Twinning and programmes team). They supported idea of Serbia EU integration process and suggested various types of cooperation and support in the future negotiation activities. The second day of visit started with meeting of Serbian representatives with Amrita Ohbi, international relations and Chapter 23 specialist. The central topic of meeting was Serbian status in the EU negotiating process and future challenges in that process. Mrs. Ohbi offered help in various activities related to EU integrations including the best practice on examples of recently joined countries. Establishing an effective free legal aid system was topic of the next meeting. Representative of Free Legal Aid Agency Simon Stanley, presented to delegation of MOJPA with free legal aid system in UK functioning and reform with focus on costs and number of users reduction, and possibilities for abuse of right on free legal aid. Case management and internal proceedings was topic of the second day closing meeting with Enzo Riglia, Head of Crown Court Improvement Branch, HMCTS. On the agenda of the last day of visit, was meeting with Mr. Henry Brooke director of the Slynn Foundation and Alison Fenney, executive director of the Foundation. The meeting was aimed at consideration of areas that are potentially adequate for cooperation between MOJPA and Foundation, trough the activities of experts. Recording of hearings in criminal proceedings, data basses and transcripts were topics discussed with Harry Panagopulos, Head of Contracted Services and Performance, HMCTS. Mr. Panagopulos stated that there are several potential problems in the process of establishing efficient system of recording and data storage, related to access to basses, costs of transcripts, etc. The next meeting was with Mr. Simon Hughes, UK Serbia Minister of Justice. He insisted on future cooperation and identification of the key points of the cooperation between Serbia and UK. He strongly supported idea of Serbin EU integration process. Study visit is closed by meeting with judges of the Southwark Crown Court and observing of the jury criminal proceeding aimed at regarding earlier discussed solutions and mechanisms on the practical examples.