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BackgroundThe State Courts of Singapore are proud to be a founding member of the International Consortium for Court Excellence (ICCE). Inspired by various quality models used internationally, experts from the United States, Europe, Australia and Singapore formed the Consortium to develop an International Framework for Court Excellence (IFCE). The Framework is a resource for assessing the performance of a court against seven detailed areas and provides guidance to courts intending to improve their performance so as to achieve excellence. The other founding members are The Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration (AIJA), The Federal Judicial Center, US and The National Center for State Courts (NCSC). Assistance was received from The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), SPRING Singapore and The World Bank (collectively “the resource organisations”).
Formulation of the International Framework for Court ExcellenceSince the formation of the ICCE in early 2007, the ICCE and the resource organisations have engaged in numerous rounds of discussions. In June 2007, the inaugural Consortium meeting was held in Singapore. The Framework draws references from the Singapore Quality Award (SQA) framework developed by SPRING Singapore, as well as other quality models used internationally. The Framework assesses a court’s performance in three broad categories with seven elements. The first category is “Driver” - court management and leadership. The second category is “Systems and Enablers” – court policies, court resources, court proceedings. Finally, the last category is “Results” - public trust and confidence, user satisfaction, as well as affordable and accessible court services. The IFCE provides guidance for courts to improve their performance. It utilises recognised organisational improvement methodologies while reflecting the special issues that courts face. The IFCE also incorporates case studies, court performance improvement processes and a range of available tools to measure court performance and development. The following figures show the IFCE framework, as well as the 7 areas of court excellence.The development of the Framework is a remarkable achievement, considering that the contributing members hail from four continents with different justice systems and distinct judicial legacies. The final outcome is a synthesis of the collective wisdom of both the public and private sector quality award systems, applied in the current judicial performance systems. It is a benchmark for aspiring courts to follow. Launch of IFCEThe IFCE was soft-launched during the AIJA Court Quality Forum in 2008. Since then, the IFCE has been tested in various courts in different countries, including the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales, Australia. The IFCE has increased awareness of the importance of court performance management and measurement, and generated much interest and discussion in enhancing the quality of court systems. As a result, the SUBCTs hosted the Asia-Pacific Courts Conference (APCC) in October 2010. The APCC was formally opened by former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong. A collaborative effort of the ICCE, the APCC saw the official launch of the Framework, and also offered a platform for the exchange of information regarding best judicial practices and legal developments around the world. The APCC attracted more than 200 delegates from 55 countries. The ICCE presented the IFCE and the journey towards excellence, explained the seven areas within the Framework, offered practical advice on the implementation of the Framework and provided court excellence case studies. Speakers from various jurisdictions were also invited to share their respective experiences in improving their own courts. Some of the other topics focused on court planning policies, judicial training and quality measures and systems. Feedback from the delegates showed that 99% agreed that the APCC met their expectations, and that they had gained valuable knowledge from it, thereby achieving APCC’s objective of promoting exchanges of ideas between the judiciaries and across jurisdictions.
Further development of the IFCESince the APCC 2010, the ICCE has had strong interest from various international court institutions wishing to join the consortium. Moving beyond the APCC 2010, the ICCE has prepared a range of other tools to assist judiciaries seeking to implement the IFCE. These include a simpler version of the framework, a checklist and a simplified scoring system. Other ongoing efforts to promote court excellence include the production of IFCE newsletters, review and improving the website with a focus on case studies, and holding regional mini-forums/workshops. The ICCE will continue to promote the use of the IFCE to all aspiring courts worldwide. Providing courts with the necessary tools to become high performance organisations is an ongoing goal, one that incorporates methods and procedures developed over the last three decades as well as one that relates to those sure to be developed in the future. Through the journey with the Consortium, the State Courts reaffirm their commitment towards achieving their vision of being a leading court, serving society. Find out more about the Consortium and the IFCE from www.courtexcellence.com
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