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Brussels, 24 October 2008

European Civil Justice Day and Crystal Scales of Justice Prize for innovative practices contributing to quality of civil justice – joint initiatives of European Commission and Council of Europe

As part of the sixth European Civil Justice Day, the European Commission and the Council of Europe today awarded the third Crystal Scales of Justice Prize for innovative practices contributing to the quality of civil justice. The first prize went to the United Kingdom's Ministry of Justice. The competition is organised every other year.

"I would like to thank the many candidates who took part this year," said Vice-President Jacques Barrot, European Commissioner responsible for matters relating to freedom, security and justice. "The number has doubled since the previous awards in 2006. I truly believe that practical measures and mini reforms like this, carried out on the ground, at the level of the courts and procedures, are the way to make justice more accessible and more efficient. I also think that these good judicial practices, which are showcased by our prize and publicised on the European Judicial Network's internet site, can easily be implemented in other Member States, where they will produce the same positive results."

The European Commission and Council of Europe received 38 entries from 15 European countries. A jury of 11 eminent European lawyers met in Brussels on 2 October 2008 to examine the entries by judicial and state institutions and singled out four projects for commendation.

The Crystal Scales of Justice Prize went to the Small Claims Mediation Service project of Her Majesty's Courts Service – Ministry of Justice (United Kingdom). The service promotes the use of mediation services for claimants who have a claim of up to £5 000 that is proceeding through the courts. The three other projects, the Paris Bar Solidarity Bus run by the Order of Advocates of the Paris Bar (France), the National Judiciary Informatics System (UYAP) of the IT Department of the Ministry of Justice (Turkey) and the Computerised Civil Lawsuits of the Office of the Court of Milan (Italy) received a special mention from the jury.

Once again, this sixth European Civil Justice Day is an opportunity to organise various events in the Member States of the European Union and the Council of Europe around the date of 25 October. These include local conferences, open days, guided visits, meetings with legal practitioners and activities aimed at the very young. These activities are linked by a common desire to bring civil justice closer to the people.

This year several events to mark the day are being organised in Europe too. For further information, go to: (see heading "What's new?").

For more information on the activities of Vice-President Barrot, please see his internet site:

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