In 2005, the European Commission and the Council of Europe created the "Crystal Scales of Justice" Prize to distinguish the innovative practices in justice administration in Europe. It started as a reward for the initiatives regarding court organization and justice procedures, but later on, the "Crystal Scales of Justice" Prize covered the justice in general. The Award is open for submission of the projects that aim to improve efficiency and quality of the functioning of justice, judicial procedures or the organization of courts. The competition is organized every 2 years (odd years) by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) of the Council of Europe. Courts, Bars Associations, judicial professionals, non-governmental organizations or any other entity responsible for justice affairs may submit initiatives to the competition. The initiatives must have been effectively implemented and produced measurable results in the applicant’s country (Member State of the Council of Europe or Observer State to CEPEJ).

Azerbaijan started to introduce initiatives for this award starting from 2012. This year Azerbaijan was among 18 countries and two international organizations who submitted total of 37 innovative projects to the competition. We participated with 2 initiatives this year: one of the initiatives offers the new way of court administration which improves and simplifies the performance management, e-decision and e-policy making in judiciary. The second project focused more on access to justice and presented the Unified Judicial Portal, the unique hub and reliable source providing thorough information about the court system of Azerbaijan both visually and in text format. It is with great honor we want to inform our society that our first project titled “COURT PULSE” was shortlisted and is among four projects nominated for the "Crystal Scales of Justice" Prize. According to the rules of the competition, the finalists – the four projects are to attend the Awarding Ceremony and given chance to once more present their initiatives. The Jury, who votes and selects the initiatives by secret ballot, will announce the winner of the award on the European Justice Day (on October 27, 2017) and the other three projects will receive the “special mention” prize. 

It is the logical outcome of Azerbaijan’s consistent adherence to protection of human rights, respect for rule of law and development of the market economy in the country. Thanks to the implementation of large-scale reforms and transformations in the judicial system, now we are not only importing the innovations and adapting them to our needs, but we have built our capacity to export innovative and best practices to Europe and the world. This is a reward for tremendous efforts that had been made to provide better judicial services to citizens and protect their rights.