Successful Conference From Common Rules to Best Practices in European Civil Procedure

On 25 and 26 February the conference From Common Rules to Best Practices in European Civil Procedure was held at Erasmus School of Law. The conference was jointly organized by ESL (Prof. Xandra Kramer and PhD researchers Alina Ontanu and Monique Hazelhorst) and the Max Planck Institute for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law in Luxembourg (Prof. Burkhard Hess, Director). 

It brought together leading academics, representatives of the European Commission and the Parliament, consumer and business representatives and practitioners from Europe and beyond. Over 100 people from many different countries participated in the event.

Civil procedure has been one of the focal points of the EU legislator with the aim of furthering judicial cooperation in civil matters and shaping a genuine European justice area. In the past fifteen years a considerable harmonisation of civil procedure has been achieved. In recent years, the focus has shifted from establishing new harmonised rules to the actual implementation, application, and operationalisation of the instruments. The conference focused on how to move beyond common rules and towards best practices that give body to mutual trust and judicial cooperation, which can in turn feed the further development of the European civil procedure framework from a bottom-up approach.

After the opening speeches of Fabian Amtenbrink, vice-dean of the ESL and Xandra Kramer, Burkhard Hess gave an introductory speech underlining the practical and political challenges that lay ahead in consolidating European civil procedure. The legislative officer of the DG Justice, European Commission, Norel Rosner, and the Head of Unit of the Committee of Legal Affairs of the European Parliament, Robert Bray, presented their views on the building of mutual trust, creation of best practices, the implementation process and evaluation of the European procedures. The four panels of the conference geared around the need for common standards for harmonious cooperation, procedural innovation and e-justice, alternative dispute resolution and best practices in European civil procedure to promote mutual trust. A short interim session was dedicated to the costs of civil procedure, the existing national approaches and their implications for the parties and the public finances.

All panels delivered high quality speeches on these topical issues, brought a wealth of information and insights and triggered vibrant debates. The panels highlighted that the effectiveness of civil justice starts with high-quality legislation that is rooted in a common understanding of the underlying principles, but that the implementation of legislation and usability for the litigants as well as practitioners are equally important.  The conference revealed deeply rooted problems of civil procedure and the implementation of European rules and gave windows to new pathways of innovating civil justice, perspectives on modern access to justice and the future of European civil procedure.

The papers presented during the conference will be published in the Max Planck Institutes’ book series (Nomos and Ashgate). Further activities and conferences on civil justice involving Erasmus School of Law are in the planning and will be elaborated in the coming years.

This conference was made possible with the financial support of the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) that funds the research project Securing Quality in Cross-Border Enforcement (2011-2016) awarded to Xandra Kramer under its innovational research scheme Vidi. Should you have further inquiries please contact Xandra Kramer at kramer@law.eur.nl