Tirana, 29.12.2020


I am here today in front of you, at this year-end meeting, feeling obliged and wishing to inform the public opinion of the current situation, but also to convey confidence that regardless of the reduced number of judges, the Supreme Court is exercising its constitutional function. Looking and analyzing the statistical data and the attitudes held regarding the consolidation of the case-law of three Supreme Court’s chambers, there is an increasing trust and hope that the situation is changing.

The Supreme Court has been for months under the positive pressure of the national and international public opinion, parties requesting the delivery of justice, court and legal practitioners that are guided by its case-law, but also the media expecting its full functioning. The transparent communication is important to build and maintain public trust in the judiciary in general, and in particular in the Supreme Court.

The main challenges of the new judical body appointed in March of this year was the identification of the situation, taking of procedural organizational measures and the drafting of a methodology that will assist the efficient and qualitative review of numerous court files pending in court for many years, without yielding from the strategic objective of transforming the Supreme Court to a law court model that consolidates and does not disorient the case law with the aim of gaining institutional legitimacy and increasing public trust.

The new panel composed of three judges was faced with a caseload of 35.196 unresolved cases; cases filed in 2010, 2011 and are pending, charged not only with the obligation to be adjudicated according the law of the time (amended several times), but also with the complexity of being remanded for retrial and leaving open to early disputes between the parties; with a considerable number of final suspended decisions in 2013; reversed and remanded decisions by the appeal courts; with a high number of special appeals but also cases that are pending for years due to the dispute over the competences of the courts or conflicts of jurisdiction.

The difficulties of the judicial panel are connected not only with the lack of judges but also the reduced staff of the legal advisors, who assist the decision-making of the Court. Beside this, the panel started working at the most unsuitable moment precisely when all state organs suspended their activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, through the engagement of judges and all staff of the Supreme Court, and with the support of the international partners (USAID “Justice

for All” Project and EURALIUS Mission) a substantial part of the difficulties of the work resumption were overcome.

The resumption of the Supreme Court’s operations after 2 years and with a new constitutional and legal framework in the view of the 2016 justice reform, required to perform the analysis and interpretation of law in order to make the Supreme Court functional with at least 3 judges. Attitudes were held on some important decisions (stare decisis) that resolved the existing dilemmas regarding the composition of the adjudication panel, the applicable law, the nature of adjudication in camera, the form of filing recourse or fining the parties for abusive recourses, the substantive elements of suspension decisions, the final review of separate appeals, the avoidance of confusion by the courts in matters of jurisdiction or competence, etc.

The panel of three judges of the Supreme Court based on a clear methodology drafted by them since they assumed their office, aimed at reviewing more rapidly the ealiest filed cases and the most urgent ones. The outcome of this methodology is: 1.957 decided cases in April-December of which 858 decisions (final and interim) of Administrative Chamber, 627 decisions of Civil Chamber and 471 decisions of Criminal Chamber.

Obviously, approximately 2000 cases disposed by three judges for a 8-month period is not what the citizens eagerly expect of the Supreme Court, but it is a very optimistic figure. The effect of consequent decision-making was not only the correct orientation of the case-law in the implementation of law, but also in the decrease of new recourses being filed according to the new constitutional and legal framework of adjudication at the Supreme Court. Despite the cause, it is a fact that in 2020 are filed half of the number of recorded cases in 2019. This very different pace of the judicial activity is reflected in the applied methodology and also the effectivity of the work of the panel has built the necessary basis and the possibility that after the full formatting of the Supreme Court with 6 panels, the annual number of decided cases would be aprox. 12.000. We remind you that the Supreme Court in its full functioning has heard only 4413 cases in 2017 and 2330 cases in 2018.

In addition to the different organization oriented to efficiency of the judicial activity, an added value in the performance of the Supreme Court is the initiative taken by “Justice for All” Project (USAID) and High Judicial Council by the signing of the cooperation agreement on the improvement of efficancy and reduction of backlog and its further implementation. Meanwhile, the value of this project has started to be noticed but will be more concrete in the first months of 2021. This project has carried out the stocktaking of 22.995 cases (66% of the whole volume of cases at the court) where each of one was physically revisioned, filtered on 42 special units of data and was recorded in the database. Through these data the Supreme Court has created individual action plans for criminal, civil and administrative cases which will lead to an increased efficiency of its judicial activity.

This joint commitment has been obviously an orientation for our objectives. Those can be summarized principally in the following issues:

- Filling of vacancies in the first months of 2021 with at least one new adjudication panel and then the full formatting of Court’s composition;

- Identification of legal issues with similar subject-matter that aims to taking decisions that unify the case-law;

- The recent approval of the organizational structure model of the Supreme Court and its adaption with the demands of adjudication arisen from the new constitutional and legal reality.

- Approval by the first quarter of 2021 of the necessary amendments to the procedural legislation, which increase the effectiveness of adjudication at the Supreme Court;

- Finalizing the appointment of three Constitutional Court’s judges.

The fulfillment of these objectives and the continuous commitment of all actors that are involved in the process, are an important and hopeful indicator that the justice will be rendered.

Tirana, on December 29th, 2020


Press Office

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