Serbia Justice Functional Review

Internal Performance Assessment > ICT Management

Chapter Summary

  1. This Chapter focuses on the management of ICT,860 centering on ICT governance, funding, and support, and the degree to which case management systems give courts the functionality required to improve efficiency, achieve greater quality, and improve access in court operations.861
  2. The Serbian judicial system does not yet approach ICT as a tool for transformation. Responsibility for ICT is fragmented. An overall governance group representing primary justice institutions is needed to set ICT policies, prioritize reforms, and conduct long term planning across the judicial system. Without such coordination, ICT investments decisions will be taken on an ad hoc basis and continue to be donor-driven and supplier driven.
  3. ICT is under-funded and some basic needs are not being adequately addressed. Hardware is often old; internet connections are uneven across the territory; server capabilities are weak; and many courts lack adequate scanning facilities. ICT literacy is generally low across the judiciary, and basic computer training has not been provided for judges, prosecutors and court staff. Several courts have no ICT support staff, while others do not have enough staff, or have temporary or poorly trained ICT staff. ICT staff turnover is high, and developing in-house ICT capacity will be critical to effective operations and sustainability.
  4. The judiciary relies on a variety of unlinked ICT systems for case processing, case management, and document management. The main system used in Basic and Higher Courts (AVP) could readily produce greater functionality than it does currently. However, there has been no training on AVP since its rollout in 2010. Ongoing development has been limited, due to poor budgeting and lack of interest in evidence-based decision-making. New case management systems are being rolled out in different courts, and the process has been deeply fragmented. In many cases, courts continue to rely on hard copies that duplicate existing case management systems, and the systems have yet to instill changed behaviors.
  5. Automated information exchange is extremely limited across the sector. The exchange of documents between lower and higher courts, between courts and PPOs, and between courts and external institutions (such as police and prisons) is entirely manual, resulting in significant inefficiencies, errors, and delays in case processing and delays in receiving funds owed to the court or other parties. Furthermore, ICT remains largely unexplored for sharing information on court practice, accessing services, or facilitating the exchange of documents with legal professionals.
  6. The judicial system is caught in a ‘vendor lock-in’, where excessive dependence on vendors has heightened costs and risks and undermined in-house capacity. Vendors are currently responsible for critical tasks throughout the judiciary, from development through to maintenance, and vendors own and control the data. Contracts favor the vendors, in large part because they were not subject to careful negotiation.
  7. ICT is ‘a tool (…) to improve the administration of justice, to facilitate the user’s access to the courts and to reinforce the safeguards laid down in Article 6 of the ECHR: access to justice, impartiality, independence of the judge, fairness and reasonable duration of proceedings.’ CCJE - November 9th, 2011
    Courts, PPOs and the Councils need meaningful, accurate, and timely statistics generated by the case management system to become more effective in managing overall system performance. In recent years, significant improvements have been made, particularly to case management systems, and the Serbian judiciary is now a relatively data-rich environment. Data quality varies but is sufficiently reliable to inform decision-making.862 Yet, data collection requires substantial manual effort, which is time-consuming, inefficient, and prone to errors.863 This negatively affects daily operations and inhibits the much-needed transition to evidence-based decision-making in the sector.