Since the mid 1990s, the contraction of available resources and the spread of ‘new public management’ approaches have presented new challenges to European judicial systems, expecting them to improve simultaneously their efficiency, quality of service delivery and accountability mechanisms, in line with the expectations on other branches of the public sector. Through an analysis of some of the findings of several research projects financed by different institutions, this article considers ways in which these expectations, and the projects to which they give rise, play off against the very different traditions of the law and the judiciary. In various countries these expectations have produced a number of procedural, structural and above all managerial policies that have led to new forms of ‘managerial’ evaluation of the activities of courts and judges. The approaches to be found range from traditional statistical surveys of caseload, largely lacking in any consequences, to performance based remuneration systems that define the salary of individual judges based on the number of cases they decide.
This article was originally published as Contini, F and Mohr, R, Reconciling independence and accountability in judicial systems, Utrecht Law Review, 3(2), December 2007, 26-43.