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HFHR Report: Diarchy in courts? A status, tasks and competence of courts’ directors after the reform

In January 2013, new regulations on the role of courts’ directors in district courts will enter into force. In its report entitled “Diarchy in courts?” the Foundation presents a review of this organisational reform.

The author of the report, Dr. Dawid Sześciło, argues that an extension of the competence of courts’ directors will relieve the workload of court presidents who will be able to focus on managing judicial activities of courts rather than administrative duties. “What this means, in practice, is that presidents will be no longer responsible for managing the recruitment process for managerial positions”, says Dr. Sześciło.

In addition, strengthening the role of courts’ directors will create conditions for more effective management of court administrative personnel. Nowadays, in some courts presidents are in charge of twenty plus or even several hundred judges, court referendaries and judicial assistants and sometimes are unable to effectively coordinate the HR policy.

The author indicates, however, potential shortcomings of this solution. Empowering a director may pose a risk of, at least timely, paralysis of the court’s functioning, in the event of any conflict between those two. “It may be assumed that the issue of a number and allocation of administrative positions may be a conflict-prone area”, admits Dr. Sześciło.

He also reminds that the amended law provides for no implementation mechanisms, which may result in the amendment having no effect whatsoever. “Therefore, our report proposes to introduce a monitoring system for the implementation of this reform”, says Artur Pietryka, HFHR lawyer. “Such a monitoring should be conducted by a team made up of nominees of the Ministry of Justice and the National Council of the Judiciary as well as external experts”, adds Mr Pietryka.

The report also recommends setting up, at least in appellate and circuit courts, a position of the deputy court director responsible for personnel and to establish and operate “communities of practitioners”, the fora for exchange of experiences between court directors.

“The idea of good governance requires collaboration and, in particular, an invaluable skill to reduce conflicts for the sake of accomplishing the stated objectives”, says Tomasz Kałużny, Judge of the District Court in Białystok. “Efficient management can only be achieved through cooperation of various court’s functions, specifically in such a key area as justice system personnel management. The judiciary needs competent managers (court directors) and, even more, outstanding leaders (court presidents)”, adds Judge Tomasz Kałużny.

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