Serbia Justice Functional Review

Internal Performance Assessment > ICT Management

f. Quality of e-Justice to Support Access to Court Users

  1. The provision of web-based services is not a technical goal in itself but a critical tool to improve access to judicial services to citizens and legal professionals. 933
  2. The European e-justice strategy prescribes a European Justice Portal as a one-stop shop for citizen access. Simpler procedures (payments, small claims) would be automated and accessible from anywhere within the EU. Serbia should prepare to participate in this venture.
  3. The EC Directorate General for Information, Society and Media offers standards for evaluating the online availability of public services on a five-point scale:
    1. Level 1: information – provides access to general information;
    2. Level 2: one-way interaction – provides dynamic information; forms required for service requests can be downloaded;
    3. Level 3: two-way interaction – electronic forms can be initiated through the site;
    4. Level 4: transaction – full electronic case handling of the procedure (e.g., payments);
    5. Level 5: personalization – proactive, automated service delivery.
  4. In their present form, the majority of Serbia’s e-justice delivery mechanisms can be categorized under Level 1, but they continue to improve. 934 USAID currently works on improving the SCC and HJC sites to include dynamic and individualized information about the calendars of hearings and events. The sites, expected to be available to court users in 2014, will be hosted by an outside provider, but will be maintained by the HJC and the SCC staff.
  5. There are no templates for the look and feel of the sites (e.g., for graphics, standard menus). The HJC’s communications strategy calls for the HJC to recommend court website standards for the first instance courts. USAID JRGA is planning to develop a uniform website template to be disseminated to all Misdemeanor Courts and free of charge.
  6. A portal for calendars and decisions of the first instance courts935 has been developed by the MOJ and allows parties to see the status of their cases. A portal for the Misdemeanor Courts is under development and the SAPS working group prioritized adding appellate and administrative cases to the portal.936 These portals represent a significant advance in the access to justice.
  7. The Commissioner for Data Protection recently ruled that electronic portals should be searchable only by case number. The result is suboptimal, as the requirement prevents lawyers and enforcement agents from seeing all pending court cases at once, impeding efficiency and reducing the general public’s access to case information. By working together, the key stakeholders could develop a practical solution to this problem which protects privacy while improving transparency, and which promotes both efficiency and access, consistent with European practice. For example in Croatia, the judicial solved this problem by providing the case number and the initials of each of the parties, allowing users to access information while protecting their privacy. This Croatian portal example could provide useful lessons for Serbia.