Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union

Query

Please provide an overview of the literature on procedural reforms in the judiciary aimed at simplifying cases so that corruption risks throughout the judgement are reduced and those accused face justice.

Content

  1. Measures to address judicial delays
  2. Case studies: backlog reduction programmes
  3. References

Summary

Efforts to delay or otherwise complicate proceedings in high profile political corruption trials are a key contributor to impunity for corruption. Such efforts are often facilitated by procedural weaknesses that can provide opportunities for delay in the enforcement of judgements, including complex rules, broad discretion, excessive opportunities for appeals and inadequate access to information.

The literature offers some guidance on how such weaknesses might be addressed, as well as examples of reform initiatives from around the world. The key approaches include:

  • specialisation of courts and judges
  • improving case management systems
  • introducing simplified procedures
  • imposing strict timelines for different types of cases
  • simplifying the appeals process
  • imposing sanctions for unnecessary delays or frivolous appeals
  • monitoring caseload assignment processes, decision-making timeframes and the reasons for delays.

A number of backlog reduction programmes, which incorporate many of the above elements have been introduced in judiciaries around the world (for example, in Kenya, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines). Ensuring that such approaches are effective in reducing delays requires a sound understanding of the political economy in which they operate and, in particular, an appreciation of how the interests and incentives of judges, lawyers, clerks and litigants interact to create delays.

Caveat

This Helpdesk report focuses on procedural and operational reforms in the judiciary rather than broader structural or legal reforms. As such it does not cover issues such as the appointment, dismissal and renewal of judges, independence and composition of judicial councils, and so on. Neither does it cover statutes of limitations for corruption offences as these are a legal, rather than a procedural, issue.

Authors

Andy McDevitt, tihelpdesk@transparency.org

Date

19/06/2017

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