Right to Fair Trial

IV. Openness of the Courts

The National Courts Administration did a lot of work in 2014 to transform the image of the Lithuanian judicial system on the internet, with substantial effort put in to ensure that information relevant to both average users and persons specifically interested in the courts and their operation is available on the web at www.teismai.lt.

At www.teismai.lt, internet users consciously seeking information on the work of the courts are able to access trial schedules, judgments (in LITEKO systems), statistics pertaining to trials, judge biographies, court composition and competences, as well as other relevant information. However, in order to continue increasing public confidence in the courts, which is low at the moment, it is important to understand that the mere fact that the information is public is not by itself sufficient to achieve transparency. As its next step, the National Courts Administration should ensure that the publicly available information and data can be readily understood by the average resident of Lithuania. Feedback collection and processing mechanisms (such as, for example, user surveys on the webpage) could aid in this endeavour. Together with efforts to monitor user behaviour (for example, with the help of Google Analytics), these mechanisms could inform both on what categories of information were chosen as well as on their presentation. One of the primary goals when employing such methods is the ability to identify the categories of information and data that are most important to users, and to ensure that these categories in particular are easy to access and available in easy-to-understand language.

Virtual court room, project by the National Court Administration, http://sale.teismai.lt/

It is also important to ensure that the most important categories of information on the work of the courts and judges are available in accordance with the open data principle – that is, available in computer readable form, under a free and open license for reuse.[1] The availability of data in accordance with the open data principle would allow for a larger group of interested persons and organizations to reuse data in a simple manner, creating new websites and tools, or empowering them to create thorough analyses of the data in question.

Findings and Recommendations

  • In order to further increase the currently-low public confidence in the courts, it is important to ensure not only that information is factually available and made public on the internet, but also that the information is readily understood by the average resident of Lithuania. The installation of user behaviour analyses and feedback collection mechanisms could help achieve this.
  • It is also important to ensure that the most important categories of information on the work of the courts or judges is available in accordance with the open data principle – this would allow individuals to freely reuse the data for commercial and non-commercial purposes.

[1] For more information on open data standards - Transparency International Lithuania, "5 Principles to Make Data Open", ttp://transparency.lt/media/filer_public/2013/10/31/5_atviru_duomenu_teikimo_principai_1.pdf