Message from the EEEI’s Co-presidents: Towards an EEEI 4.0

AG 2018 Copresidents

This new year’s message begins with a big « thank you » to all those who, through their contribution of time, by sharing their ideas, and especially by formalizing these so they can be used by the greatest number of people, have enabled the EEEI to achieve its 2019 goals. The beginning of the year is an opportunity to look back on the work accomplished, and what remains to be covered

The starting point of the EEEI, in 2006, under the impulse of the First President of the French Court of Cassation, and under that of the First President of the Court of Appeal of Versailles was to organize a major colloquium. Since the beginning, EEEI was established as a non-profit association, headquartered in Versailles. This initial impulse is, without doubt what we would call in today’s jargon, the EEEI 1.0.

The development of the EEEI around European projects, in particular through the organization of consensus conferences, has given rise to a geographical enlargement, and to the association of numerous institutional and individual members across Europe.

In this “EEEI 2.0” which has become a “Think Tank”, we find as members 15 Courts of Appeal /3 Commercial Courts / 1 Labour Court / 1 regional court / 1 supreme court, 3 Bars, 16 Associations experts, 5 universities, and more than 100 individual members.

The form of decision that underpins the functioning of the EEEI is consensus. Consensus is not synonymous with “certain truth”. It is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of people in the scientific community who work on a particular area of study. Consensus implies general agreement, but not necessarily unanimity.

Members are represented by a “Comex”, composed of 23 members of 7 different nationalities (FR/BE/NL/GB/IT/DE/RO), all volunteers, who coordinate the activities of the EEEI.

This COMEX is renewed regularly. It has for several years been made up of women and men who drive the functioning of the EEEI.

This COMEX, far from working as a closed circuit, appeals to all goodwill.

EEEI 3.0

The EEEI is a European organization in every sense of the word. Europe is, first of all, several geographical and political dimensions: it is the Europe of 28 … or 27 member states of the European Union. It is also that of the 47 member states of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ).

If there is one thing that we have learned through the various projects carried out with active participants in various European countries, it is that the heterogeneity of the judicial systems in matters of expertise can be seen as much as a strength as a weakness.

The strength stems from the fact that the European territory is rich in diverse cultures. Various judicial systems have developed, which generally function effectively. There is also a broad consensus on the concepts of independence and competence of experts, among others.

The weakness – which we rather perceive as a challenge to be taken up – is that heterogeneity hides, here and there, places where good expert practices are to be improved. It also sometimes complicates the “reading” that can be done of it, and, in this, a greater homogenization of systems or at least of expert practices expertise systems is desirable.

Through three European projects carried out thanks to the members of the EEEI: Eurexpertise, EGLE and Find an Expert, and thanks to the co-financing of the European Commission, our work highlights the diversity of Europe, the richness of the systems, and the wish to adhere to good practices such as the independence of the expert.

The constant search for good practices in the field of expertise is a long and strewn road. Marking the ground is an essential step. The “Find an Expert” project, which has been running since 2017 and whose work was completed in December 2019 will have made it possible to achieve this intermediate objective, by making available to all European citizens reliable information on what the expert system is like in each of the countries of the Union, and direct access to existing lists of experts .

The challenges that lie ahead imply that we are reaching an “EEEI 3.0”. The results of our work show that not only is the independent think-tank that is the EEEI more justified than ever, but also that there is a need to set proactive milestones to turn these thoughts into action.

In 2020, we will continue to assist the CEPEJ through various activities, one of which is essential for the proper understanding of expertise: statistics. Statistics require good definitions, and this is also at the heart of our concerns.

No good experts without adequate training. Training of judges and lawyers in expert matters is necessary. These two areas of training are at the heart of the priorities of the EEEI, which has already carried out training for lawyers and magistrates in 2019. These actions are intended to continue and diversify in 2020.

Our next European project, European Electronic Register of Experts, which has not been selected by the European Commission in 2019, represents a strategic path for European expertise: it is the one that will allow the greatest transparency of experts, and it is the one that will make secure electronic exchanges a reality. We will therefore renew our application for this project in 2020, improving it, with the help and support of our partners.

We face other challenges: artificial intelligence, predictive justice, new technologies can be precious allies or our worst enemies

The techniques encompassed under the general term “Artificial Intelligence” are rapidly invading many parts of our societies. Justice is one of these areas. The arrival of tools of different natures in this field raises many hopes but also questions. In its document “European ethical charter for the use of artificial intelligence in judicial systems and their environment”, the CEPEJ set out five principles which should guide the action of stakeholders with a view to the ethical use of these techniques. These general principles now need to be translated into concrete action principles in order to become truly operational.

This will be one of the other areas of work of the EEEI in 2020.

At the same time, we will remain faithful to the founding values that gave birth to the EEEI: dialogue between the different professions that practice judicial expertise, the demand for quality of judicial expertise in the service of justice, the search for a constant improvement of expertise practices in the different Member States, all of which will lead to a better mutual trust in the justice system of each Member State.

Our General Assembly to be held in Naples on 5 June 2020 will be a further testimony to the strength of these values and the will to make them an ever more marked reality.

We warmly thank the EEEI members and partners who have made the latest developments possible and join them in welcoming those who will work together in the future.

We need you, your ideas, your time and your intellectual contributions more than ever.

To all of you, we extend our best wishes for this year 2020.

Béatrice Deshayes and Etienne Claes
Co-president of the European Expertise and Expert Institute