Kersti Fjørstad is the Director for Innovation and Court Development Discipline and has served as Deputy Director General for the Norwegian Courts Administration (NCA), Service Development Department, since the establishment in 2002. NCA is an independent administrative body, and the reason for establishing the NCA was to safeguard that the courts were independent of the government also in administrative matters.
The Department of Service Development was an organisational innovation that Fjørstad was assigned the responsibility of establishing and developing in the best interests of the users and general public seeking justice. Projects and schemes that Fjørstad has initiated and executed are all considered pioneering work in the judiciary.
Fjørstad's work is based on the vision that good service development management in the courts is an important contribution to a higher degree of trust and confidence in the third branch of government. From Fjørstad’s point of view, service development is intended as a key element in the trust and confidence work, between the NCA and the courts, as well as vis-à-vis the users of the courts. The development work has generated direct results, especially in terms of the overall service and user focus among all employees of the Norwegian courts.
In her reform work, Fjørstad has been in charge of the concept ‘Service & Interaction’ and has headed the effort to implement this concept in the courts across the nation. Fjørstad has been responsible for initiating and executing several projects and schemes for implementation of practical measures with specific effects and benefits for the end users based on use of the service development tool ‘Service & Interaction’. Examples of such schemes include the Witness Support Scheme and the Good Safeguarding of Lay Judges project, where the effects have been measured by asking the end users directly. All of these schemes have been very successful.
Norwegian courts of justice are highly esteemed and credible institutions. The courts place great emphasis on performing efficient and high-quality work. As part of her approach, Fjørstad is also concerned with including new and modern work methodologies and methods, and has been inspired by Legal Design Thinking, Service Design Management, etc.
Fjørstad previously served as an IACA Europe Vice-President of the International Association for Court Administration. Through IACA, Fjørstad has gained an understanding of courts across the world, but in particular the courts in other European countries, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, as well as the Nordic countries Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. Kersti Fjørstad has extensive experience with the Norwegian justice system. Her work ranges from innovation, development and strategy work to core activity work. This work has entailed extensive collaboration with various different players in the justice sector.
Fjørstad has gained wide-ranging international experience through development work and work to strengthen judicial systems, both nationally and internationally. She has in particular contributed to a reform of the service development work in the courts through use and development of strategies. In her management of the service development work, Fjørstad has contributed expertise resources to EEA projects in Poland and Lithuania. This work has required very high competence regarding the judicial structures of other nations. Fjørstad is in charge of inspired development of support to victims and witnesses in Poland through the project ‘Strengthening the position of crime victims and support for witnesses in criminal proceedings’.
Fjørstad was the initiator on behalf of the NCA for the establishment of the witness support scheme in Norway in 2005, and she has followed up the scheme up until the present. In cooperation with the courts and the Norwegian Red Cross, she has developed the scheme to become a nation-wide and international flagship scheme. Based on the example of Norway, other countries, e.g. Lithuania, have been inspired to launch volunteer pilots that take into account the specifics of their own country’s procedural regulation, court practices and NGO system. Volunteering in the courts in the old democratic states have already become an ordinary practice, which significantly contributes to the smooth conduct of the court proceedings and implementation of the principles for safeguarding of human rights. This initiative in Lithuania courts also provides significant benefits to the judicature as well as witnesses and victims participating in the court proceedings. The EEA agreement management has stated that this project is a particularly successful project.
The Witness Service is seen as pioneering work in safeguarding of witnesses and victims. In 2017, the Council of Europe awarded NCA the Crystal Scales of Justice for the witness support activities. The Crystal Scales of Justice is organised by the Council of Europe and awarded for innovative judicial practices in the European judicial institutions. The Norwegian Model of Witness Service reflects the courts' independence and transparency and demonstrates a historical focus on restorative justice and on socially responsible courts.
In January 2016, Fjørstad initiated a collaboration between the NCA and four pilot courts in order to improve the courts’ safeguarding of lay judges. The 2017 report by GRECO (the Group of States against Corruption established by the Council of Europe) on corruption in the national parliament, courts and prosecuting authority in Norway, also addressed the recommendations for a strengthening of the lay judges’ awareness regarding ethics and conflicts of interest, and a strengthening of the guidance for the lay judges. In the report, GRECO is of the opinion that the recommendations for lay judges had been followed-up in a satisfactory manner through the lay judges project in 2016. This entails that GRECO considers the lay judges project in the pilot courts and the NCA from 2016 to be of significance for the anti-corruption work.
Kersti Fjørstad previously served as Office Manager at the County Governor's Office, and prior to that as Office Manager at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Fjørstad has studied Public Administration at the Norwegian Business School of Economics in Bergen, and Law at the University of Bergen. Ms. Fjørstad earned her Master’s Degree; Master of Arts, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in Trondheim.
Fjørstad lectures both nationally and internationally, and has wide-ranging experience with pioneer, reform and strategy work. She has also been invited to participate in connection with the launch of the Global Judicial Integrity Network in 2018 in Vienna.
Fjørstad fronts an extreme user-oriented focus. Her achievements emerge as a result of a carefully managed process characterised by being visionary, committed to a dream and empowering others.