Speaking at today's “court en banc” - an annual meeting of all of Estonia's judges, Justice Minister Hanno Pevkur said reforms tested in Harju County courts have boosted procedural speeds, and reforms can be expanded to other parts of the nation.
Pevkur said the procedure time of average civil cases has decreased by 41 days to 160, while time needed to assess trial costs has dropped to only 138 days, from an average of 324 before the reforms.
The minister said hiring lawyers to aid judges has been the key, as they lighten the load of judges. He added that the next step is to tackle trial delays caused by health issues of the defendants.
“The Ministry of Justice has written a fact sheet for doctors, which will help them to better understand what happens in a court or investigative institution and then decide if a patient's health issue is severe enough for them to participate in the court procedure,” Pevkur said.
The minister said the workload of courts increased in all categories except for criminal cases, which saw a decrease of 5 percent.
Courts received 14 percent more funding in 2014, compared to the previous year, and the salary fund increased by 15.6 percent. There have been 1.1 million euros earmarked for further reforms.