On September 2nd 2020, the draft Methodology for complexity of cases was presented in the Judicial Council of the Republic of North Macedonia.

This Methodology was prepared by the expert team of the Center for Legal Research and Analysis, in cooperation with the Judicial Council of RNM, within the project “Supporting the Judicial Council in the establishment of the quality system for evaluation of judges” funded by the Dutch Embassy in North Macedonia.

The presentation of the Methodology was conducted online through the Zoom tool and it was attended by the President of the Judicial Council of RNM, Judge Kiro Zdravev and the other members of the council.

The event began with welcoming speeches by the Judge Zdravev and the President of the Center for Legal Research and Analysis Lidija Stojkova-Zafirovska, who pointed out the importance of preparing this Methodologyand emphasized that with this draft Methodology, the Republic of North Macedonia joins the group of judicial systems in Europe that has systems for grading the complexity of cases as a step towards proper standardization of cases and evaluation of judges. Professor Dr. Gordana Lazetikj, as the main expert of the team, explained the process of preparation of the Methodology and explained in detail the indicators of complexity of the cases in civil, criminal and administrative area. She also explained the sub-areas that were covered during the preparation of the Methodology, such as: labor relations, trade disputes, extra judiciary procedure and bankruptcy. Professor Lazetik also focused on the process indicators and explained them in detail to the present members of the Council.

In continuation, Professor Dr. Gorjan Nadzinski, who is in charge of designing a formula (mathematical model) in order to facilitate the process of determining the complexity according to the draft Methodology, explained the three phases in which the implementation of the Methodology will take place. He explained that the testing of the first phase which defines the way of assessing the complexity of the court cases based on their characteristics, area, process indicators and their burden, is currently being finalized.The second phase will take into account the characteristics of the case and the circumstances of its resolution and based on that will define a model of the expected duration of the resolution of the cases. Finally, the third phase will define the burden of the cases as a composite property of their complexity and the time required to resolve them, which will provide a powerful tool for evaluation and classification of cases, as well as defining the norms for their solution in the future.

Judges from the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, Judge Damir Kontrec and Judge Zeljko Pajalic, made a significant contribution to the preparation of the Methodology. They participated with their advices and comments at each stage of the process, and at the presentation shared the experiences of the Croatian model for complexity of cases.

The Draft Methodology follows the legal bases that make up the complexity of the court cases determined in Article 85 paragraph 1 of the Law on the Judicial Council of the Republic of North Macedonia, where the expert team developed them according to the complexity of the legal matter, type of courts, level and jurisdiction.

During the preparation of this draft Methodology, extensive consultations were conducted with judges from all courts in the country, and at all levels, in order to best identify and confirm the proposed indicators. This inclusive and consultative process was conducted through a specially prepared questionnaire for the civil, criminal and administrative areas, in order to more accurately determine the indicators specific to each court procedure. The high responsiveness of judges of almost 70%, indicates the fact that judges are willing to cooperate on important issues of interest to their work, which gives legitimacy to the proposed model. Confirmation of the process is that more than 90% of the judges accept what was offered as a numerical (quantitative) expression of the indicators for each legal area, and the comments and remarks from the current consultations are taken into account individually with each type of court.

For the preparation of the Methodology and the model for determining the complexity of the cases, a comparative analysis and insight was made in the judicial systems of several European countries, including: Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania, Italy, Malta, Hungary, Croatia and others. At the same time, the standards of several European and international networks were analyzed.(CEPEJ, ENCJ, UN, CoE, etc.)

The Center for Legal Research and Analysis, in close cooperation with the Judicial Council, will continue with the further phases of the project, and will finalize the plan for successful implementation of the Methodology in practice.