Cutting-edge method for improving court decisions through training

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

  • Unique method of improving court decisions through training developed in Estonia.
  • The Court Practise Analysis (CPA) improved judicial training, gained widespread acclaim and produced further innovations.

The Supreme Court of Estonia’s Judicial Training Department has developed an innovative and effective method to improve the quality of court decisions through enhanced judicial training. Since implementation at the Estonian Supreme Court in 2006, the Court Practise Analysis (CPA) method has delivered tangible benefits, gained widespread acclaim and spawned further innovative initiatives.

What is CPA?
The CPA method is based in practical research, and its aims are directly derived from the needs of the court system. CPA is a process of comprehensively studying court decisions and other court documents to draw out essential conclusions on how courts apply certain norms and interpret them. The aim is to pinpoint any issues or problems the courts have in applying the law in cases.

The end result of a CPA study is a thorough analysis document highlighting the specific issues that need to be addressed through training. Since 2006, the Supreme Court of Estonia’s has produced over 50 CPA analyses as well as other relevant compendiums and numerous articles that have been published in legal and social sciences magazines.

Unique Estonia
Estonia’s CPA method is unique in Europe – with only Ireland having a process somewhat similar to Estonia’s CPA despite it representing the common law system. Why did CPA extensively develop in Estonia? Most likely because Estonia’s young yet modern law system and has not, thus far, accumulated a long tradition of legal research at universities and other scientific institutions.

Estonia’s CPA method represents a sound and fast-track way to improve the quality of court decisions through training. Firstly, the CPA analysis is a practical research undertaking, and its aims are directly derived from the needs of the court system. Secondly, training gives judges answers to problems quicker than academia.

Immediate benefit
Indeed, the devel­opment of the European Union brings with it many and often rapid changes in the fields of legislation and court practices everywhere. The CPA method is ideal for such a fast-paced setting: the Estonian Supreme Court has conclusively shown that within a one-year cycle it is possible to identify a problem, offer subsequent training and see an alleviation of the problem within the courts.    

CPA has proven itself a vital tool in using training to improve the quality of court practices, and a tool employed at all court levels. CPA analyses also help to identify the long-term impact of training, assist court management to allocate court resources better according to case type requirements and also identify future trainers. Furthermore, CPA analyses can be used as training materials.

A catalyst for further innovation
According to Tanel Kask and Margit Vutt of the Estonian Supreme Court, CPA has led to the development of a new form of training seminar based on the identification and further study of the most common types of company law cases in the Estonian courts. These seminars have proven an invaluable and neutral method for judges to discuss cases and associated practices amongst peers.

The Court Practise Analysis (CPA) developed by the Estonian Supreme Court has proven an invaluable tool for improving the quality of court decisions through training. In fact, CPA has proven so beneficial that the Court has asked itself how it ever managed without CPA!

Read Kask’s and Vutt’s article Court Practice Analysis as an Innovative Tool to Improve Judges’ Training to learn more about CPA. Both authors will gladly share their experiences and provide consultation with judicial training organisations interested in CPA.

Text by: Anna-Karin Granström and Michael Korhonen