2021 e-AIAKOS - The joint webinar on judgecraft

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Almost 60 participants from eight European and Western Balkans countries participated in the first AIAKOS exchanges of 2021. The AIAKOS week was held virtually from 17 to 21 May during which the participants attended various and unique thematic programmes organised by six European countries – Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, and Slovenia.

The AIAKOS Programme aims at bringing together future or newly appointed judges from different EU Member States, fostering mutual understanding of different European judicial cultures and systems, and raising their awareness about the European dimension of their (future) work. Depending on the host country, the AIAKOS Programme takes place in a judicial training institution or in courts/ prosecution offices.

I can't teach anybody anything, I can only make them think - Socrates

Due to the ongoing sanitary restrictions across Europe, the Spring edition of the AIAKOS Programme 2021 was held totally online. One of the major highlights of this edition was the implementation of a three-hour joint webinar on judgecraft on Tuesday, 18 May. For the first time, the hosting countries implemented a common session to be held simultaneously for all participants.

The training day was opened by European Judicial Training Network Secretary General’s Judge Markus Brückner. The webinar was then delivered by Judge Leslie Cuthbert, expert from the Judicial College of England & Wales, and focused on judgecraft, particularly on ‘cognitive biases’. The webinar covered several arguments as ‘confirmation bias’, ‘cognitive reflection’, ‘consistency bias’, and ‘cognitive dissonance’ through individual exercises based on perception, observation, and decision making. The session was made highly interactive by the expert using quizzes, videos, pools, IAT (Implicit Association Tests), and drawings.

Participants joined the AIAKOS week with the expectation of meeting new colleagues from around the world, learning more about foreign European judicial systems and broadening their horizons as professionals and EU citizens, and were also catapulted into a completely new approach to evaluate and reason about events and situations. The aim of the judgecraft webinar was to help trainees understand how biases can shape decision making, help them think outside the box, and make them aware of certain factors that may affect performance in decision making.

The judgecraft webinar proved to be one of the most popular sessions of the whole AIAKOS Programme. According to the attendees, the judgecraft session was exceptionally good and innovative, and the high level of interactivity was very appreciated although the large number of attendees. Some participants highlighted such a webinar ‘should be made compulsory for all judicial decision makers’, as it was ‘eye-opening and inspiring’.

Following the positive feedback received from the AIAKOS participants, EJTN will be working with the Judicial College of England & Wales to implement a judgecraft webinar also during the two AIAKOS weeks that will take place in autumn 2021.