The 2019 EU Justice Scoreboard – a key tool of the European Union’s rule of law toolbox

Achieving efficient and independent justice systems of EU Member States are vital in order to improve the effectiveness of the European judiciary. The key findings of the 2019 EU Justice Scoreboard mainly focus on litigious civil and commercial cases, as well as administrative cases, to assist Member States in their efforts to create a more investment, business and citizen-friendly environment. Overall, the results are mixed since there are some countries that continue to improve, while some others reverse the positive trends.

For Cyprus, even though some overall developments are evidenced in justice reforms, there is still a long way to go. For instance, in 2017 Cyprus ranked last in time needed to resolve civil, commercial, administrative and other cases at first instance with a disposition time of approximately 1,100 days. This means that there is a high length of proceedings in reaching a decision at first instance courts. Yet, the clearance rate, which refers to the ratio of the number of resolved cases over the number of incoming cases, for the above-mentioned cases is almost 120%. This value indicates that more cases are resolved than come in.

Moreover, the quality of justice systems can be influenced by the level of court fee as a share of the value of the claim required to start a judicial proceeding in a specific consumer case. For Cyprus in 2017, the court fee for a low value claim is slightly higher to 60% marking approximately a 20% difference from,  for example, , Finland. Hence, it may be argued that accessibility to a citizen-friendly justice system is limited. In terms of financial resources, data in 2017 also show Cyprus’ government total expenditure on law courts to be the lowest, whereas other Member States’ remained mostly stable.