The first online documentation seminar of ACA-Europe took place on 10 and 11 March 2021. During this period of the extended German Presidency, participants from over 20 EU countries came together for 2.5 hours each day by videoconference to discuss the work of the ACA member courts documentation departments, the future of the JuriFast database and the future cooperation on "Documentation of Court Decisions".

Day one attracted 74, day two 68 participants, including several court presidents, judges of the ACA member courts, documentalists and information specialists of the European Court of Justice (CJEU). Prof. Klaus Rennert as acting ACA-Europe President welcomed the audience. The theme blocks of the seminar as well as the subsequent question and answer rounds were moderated by Ms Dr. Butz and Ms Pettau from the Federal Administrative Court in Germany.


The second step comprised compiling the general report for ACA-Europe with the results of the survey and the evaluation. When it became apparent that the documentation seminar planned for April 2020 in Leipzig could not take place because of the Corona protection regulations and that a transfer to an autumn date also seemed unlikely, the decision was made to set up an online seminar in 2021 and discuss some important aspects of the findings from the survey.

As a third step, a webinar was created in order to highlight important findings of the survey and pave the way for the online seminar. It is accessible through the ACA-Europe website, both in English and in French.
The evaluation of the questionnaire on the work of the documentation departments of the ACA member courts has produced many interesting findings:

  • Best practice examples of documentation practices of other ACA member courts
  • Suggestions for improvements of the existing databases JuriFast (from ACA-Europe) and JNEU (CJEU)
  • Ideas on how the ACA member courts could cooperate more closely and better with each other and with the CJEU regarding the documentation of court decisions.

It very quickly became clear that not all findings would be equally suitable for discussing closer cooperation among ACA member courts. For example, there are major differences between the respective internal and external legal information systems, which are usually fed by the courts with decisions, literature and related metadata in accordance with internal regulations. These and other topics from the survey were not considered suitable for the seminar. In contrast, many other replies from the questionnaires allowed a clear conclusion that ACA member courts could and would like to cooperate more closely in documenting  judicial decisions in the field of administrative law. This became the core theme of the seminar.

Content of the seminar:

The seminar covered the following issues: documentation practice in the ACA-Europe member courts with examples from different courts, presentation of selected documentation tools of individual courts, assigning and recording of formal and content metadata, technological developments in the field of documentation, a roadmap for the establishment of enhanced cooperation between ACA member courts in the field of documentation.

A lively discussion emerged on the first day following a presentation of the CJEU's documentation practice. The participants inquired in detail with the CJEU representatives, especially with regard to the input they themselves made to the JNEU database of the CJEU. They asked in-depth-questions about the translation of national decisions. On the second day, there was an intense discussion as to whether a keyword search was still up-to-date in the face of modern search engines, which technical developments in the field of decision documentation were useful and helpful, and which documentary tools could also be provided to the judges who write the judgments (e.g. software for the automatic citation of laws and regulations).

At the end of the seminar, participants were able to vote online on concrete proposals on how the ACA member courts could cooperate more closely in the field of documentation, e.g.

  • Should JuriFast be developed further on a regular basis?
  • Should other courts (both ACA courts and national lower courts) be encouraged to use the ECLI?
  • Should ACA courts cooperate more closely with regard to the translation of decisions?

The software was used for this purpose. Support for these (and other) proposals ranged from 67.5% to 95%, a very high score. More than 40 court representatives participated actively in the vote.


On the basis of the preparatory work and the results of this seminar, the German Presidency will submit proposals to the ACA Board on how the ACA member courts could cooperate more closely in the field of documentation. This includes both an organisational framework (permanent working group, work programme and budget) as well as content. The work programme will include seven focal areas for enhanced cooperation :

  1. The permanent improvement of JuriFast
  2. The assignment of content metadata for judgments uploaded to JuriFast
  3. The discussion and evaluation of new electronic tools
  4. Working together on an "information architecture" ("No Artificial Intelligence without Information Architecture")
  5. Promoting the use of ECLI and ECLI XL among ACA-Europe member courts
  6. The translation of decisions
  7. A formalised professional exchange between the Committee and the Documentation Department of the European Court of Justice.

The General Assembly of ACA-Europe will vote on these proposals on 31 May 2021.

Preparation and implementation of the seminar were only possible by team work. Special thanks go to Ms Thierbach. She programmed, administrated and participated in the evaluation of the online questionnaire and implemented the most important findings from the survey in Power Point slides. We would also like to thank Ms Brietzel, Mr Krause, Mr Volkmer and Ms Schneider for making the seminar run smoothly. The show wouldn't have happened without you.