Joint Vision of Justice as a Chain

Different Branches of Power, Public and Private Sector, Fixing Goals Together – Judicial Reform Council

The justice sector is a complex system which comprises intertwined institutions and areas cutting across various branches of power – namely the judiciary, executive and legislature. At the same time, the sector includes various independent (prosecution) or semi-independent bodies, private corporations and professional associations (practising lawyers, private enforcement officers, notaries). Furthermore, the justice sector is neither ‘owned’ nor coordinated by the Government or the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) in its daily performance - and indeed it is because of the competition of the independent or autonomous limbs of the sector that it is able to provide ‘checks and balances’ against executive abuse.

In view of these specifics, coordination of the justice sector reform is of paramount significance in order to make sure that the policy development process is sufficiently inclusive and productive. With this in mind, the Predecessor Project to “Pravo-Justice“ suggested establishing the Judicial Reform Council (JRC), which would work as a justice sector reform ‘owner’, and the ultimate filter for all reform-related initiatives. JRC was established in 2014 under the auspices of the Administration of President, uniting many actors at the highest policy-making level, donors and representative of the civil society (CSOs). Pravo-Justice facilitates the JRC operations by providing strategic guidance and operational support. The Justice Sector Reform Strategy and Action Plan 2015-2020 (JSRSAP), approved by President of Ukraine and the Cabinet of Ministers, was a result of the work by the Judicial Reform Council, the Predecessor Project to Pravo-Justice and other development partners.

Looking Forward at Each Institution - Strategic Planning Units

The sector-wide reform process can only be properly coordinated by reason of the core stakeholders having sufficient “back office“ capacities to plan, monitor and report on the JSRSAP implementation. This is particularly so in a sector constructed of many different institutions with significant degrees of independence or autonomy in the country’s constitutional set-up. “Pravo-Justice“ is continuing the focus on the creation and support to existing Strategic Planning Units (SPUs) within key justice institutions. HCJ and MOJ are among the first in the sector to have such dedicated capacities. In time, operational SPUs at each sector institution will become a mainstay in the reform monitoring and review process, proving most of the analytical and operational support to JRC.

The justice sector is a complex system which comprises intertwined institutions and areas cutting across various branches of power – namely the judiciary, executive and legislature.

Activities and Results - Justice Sector Reform Strategy and Action Plan, Annual Implementation Pans

The general trend promoted by JSRSAP is towards increasing the independence of the judiciary as a separate branch of power, but with more accountability and service orientation in the whole of the justice sector. A number of key developments since then already include:

  • complete reset of the judiciary through new selection and evaluation process of judges;
  • streamlined judiciary governance system with High Council of Justice (HCJ) at the pinnacle;
  • better coordination of justice sector reforms through the Judicial Reform Council (JRC) and the restructured Ministry of Justice (MOJ);
  • improved access to and quality of legal aid;
  • more effective enforcement of court decisions through gradual privatisation of enforcement services;
  • better balance between crime prevention and rehabilitation through fully-fledged probation services;
  • greater inputs by the justice sector in the prevention of and combatting corruption through the setting up of specialised investigative agencies (NABU), more transparency of assets (e-declarations system) etc.
  • e-justice, online and fully electronic services, more interoperable and integrated registers and other information systems.

Because of its sector-wide nature, JSRSAP deals with complex blocks of relationships in each of its 12 Chapters, rather than focusing on a specific institution. This justifies the need for greater institutional coordination under each of the JSRSAP Chapters. Moreover, many of the JSRSAP interventions will be implemented by a number of ‘responsible bodies’. This problem-focused (and not merely institution-focused) approach allows expecting a more comprehensive and systemic action, while also promoting the understanding of ‘justice-sector’ as a chain of complex relationships between various bodies in order to produce better quality of services to the society.

At the same time, in order to keep the JSRSAP oriented towards results - and particularly outcomes - this document has not been excessively itemised within rigid time-frames for each particular year of its implementation cycle. Thus Pravo-Justice is helping institutions implementing JSRSAP to develop a list of steps necessary for the achievement of results in Annual Implementation Plans (AIPs), which have been produced annually for each JSRSAP Chapter since 2016.

Evidence-based Policy-making - Monitoring and Evaluation

Successful reforms require contemporary policy-making and implementation methods. Pravo-Justice is helping introduce effective monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the justice sector reform processes and results. Besides overall expert advice, it has furnished the beneficiaries specifically tailored dynamic instruments, including monitoring tool and donor (external assistance) online coordination platform, which provide comprehensive, computable data and knowledge about the reform progress, while allowing to adjust and calibrate inputs of specific actors and other parameters. “Pravo-Justice“ is also going to lead the JSRSAP evaluation with a view to defining scope and extent for the follow reform policy.

Smaller Budgets, Better performance

The justice sector institutions and the sector reforms are still financed according to the traditional cost-based line-budget methodology where focus is on the cost of inputs (salaries, cost of goods) rather than results and services provided by the institutions to the people. “Pravo-Justice“ is working with the Ukrainian institutions on applying cost-benefit analysis to the budget allocation decision, providing expenditures by performance, and assessing results in relation to objectives. This method is based on data science, including statistical approaches. The crucial reason for suggesting this method is that it is transparent and objective, allowing no “bottom-up bias” by the institutions and their staff. Such a method would form a solid base for allocation of resources on clear objectives, and not on time-consuming subjective negotiations of any form. Following the path of data science-based scientific approach to performance management and performance based budgeting will make the Ukrainian judiciary fit for the future challenges alongside the trends in advanced European jurisdictions.

Less Rules, More Clear Rules - Improving Legislative Process

Legislative processes in Ukraine, including those in relation to the justice sector, are subject to lack of clear rules and processes, resulting in a big number of draft laws of poor quality brought by Members of Parliament, gold-plating and excessive length of legislation, default use of legislative instruments at the expense of more flexible forms of regulation (rules, practice guides), and the very frequent changes in the r regulator framework. “Pravo-Justice“ is supporting changes for more regulated legislative process and more evidence-based regulation of the justice sector through the use of M&E, gap analysis, impact assessment and other techniques. In particular, a closer link between legislation and practice is being promoted through the monitoring mechanism of new civil and commercial procedural codes with the involvement of MOJ, Supreme Court, other judges, advocates, scholars, CSOs. In addition, MOJ is strengthening its role in pro-active, systematic and obligatory monitoring of implementation of newly adopted legal acts in the new areas of regulation in the MOJ domain.

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