Courts around the world are increasingly facing budget cuts and funding shortfalls. Budget problems are particularly acute in developing countries, where courts need to increase efficiency and access to justice while also managing resource limitations. International development agencies and donors expect measurable progress to justify continued funding of judicial reform projects. Yet, as rule of law efforts in developing countries improve public perception of courts and streamline court administration, more cases may be filed. Greater use of the courts puts greater strain on court resources, triggering the need to implement cost-saving measures while maintaining effective court administration.
This paper outlines 21 measures that courts can implement to reduce costs. Specific examples from developing countries are presented wherever possible, with additional examples drawn from the United States and Europe. Although this paper is intended mainly for audiences in developing countries, the issues facing those courts are similar to issues addressed through court reforms in the United States over the past 50 years. For this reason, examples of cost-saving measures from developed countries such as the United States may be directly applicable or could be used as starting points to spur further cost savings innovation in the developing world.
Section I of this paper explains the context for the implementation of judicial cost-saving measures, and raises some issues for reflection. Section II sets out specific judicial cost-saving measures, dividing them into three categories: measures that address court operations; measures directed at staffing and salaries; and measures that relate to court and case management. Section III discusses ways that countries and judiciaries can generate ideas for new and innovative cost-saving mechanisms.