District courts’ 2016 backlog: “Only” 230,000 cases pending
Comment
District courts’ 2016 backlog: “Only” 230,000 cases pending
16. 1. 2017

ČT 24 has said in a report that the backlog of cases pending at the district courts dropped 15 percent. Previously judges had routinely reported over 300,000 cases pending overdue, but the number was down to 230,000 in 2016. A lower number of seizure orders and civil suits, and an increased number of judges, were given as the reason. Whether this is due to a trend of faster processing of pending cases or a seasonal variation, remains to be seen. The objective of the judiciary, in accordance with the Constitution of the Czech Republic, is to ensure the protection of fundamental civil rights and liberties. However, in order to fulfil this task, courts must work flexibly. This is often not the case. It appears that the primary reason for protractions in court proceedings is not a shortage of judges, but the shortage of auxiliary personnel, namely court clerks and judges’ assistants. A judge should be allowed to concentrate on decisions and rulings.

ČT 24 has said in a report that the backlog of cases pending at the district courts dropped 15 percent. Previously judges had routinely reported over 300,000 cases pending overdue, but the number was down to 230,000 in 2016. A lower number of seizure orders and civil suits, and an increased number of judges, were given as the reason. 

Whether this is due to a trend of faster processing of pending cases or a seasonal variation, remains to be seen. The objective of the judiciary, in accordance with the Constitution of the Czech Republic, is to ensure the protection of fundamental civil rights and liberties. However, in order to fulfil this task, courts must work flexibly. This is often not the case. It appears that the primary reason for protractions in court proceedings is not a shortage of judges, but the shortage of auxiliary personnel, namely court clerks and judges’ assistants. A judge should be allowed to concentrate on decisions and rulings.

At present, shortly after the adoption of a new Civil Code, with its radical incursions into the field of Civil Law, judicial practice is a matter of utmost importance, since its decisions complete practical application and should act to eliminate ambiguities and multiple interpretations, offered by their application in practice. Case Law plays an important role, as both the submission of cases to courts and court rulings ever more frequently depend on it. Instances in which courts negate their previous verdicts by their new rulings without explaining such as change of heart must be viewed negatively.

The situation of registration courts is a separate topic for discussion: they have accelerated their decision-making processes, but it is completely unacceptable to see decisions in one and the same case widely differ, very often at one and the same court. A high degree of unpredictability gives ground for justified criticisms.

The judiciary is doubtless coping with problems that require instant resolution. Hopefully, reports on dissolving the backlog of pending court cases comes as one of the first good news concerning the world of Czech justice.

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