The organization of councils for the judiciary

To strengthen the independence of the judiciary several countries have introduced a council for the judiciary. As an intermediary institute Councils can play an important role in the relationship between a ministry of justice and the judiciary. Depending on their statute the tasks of Councils are concentrated on the appointment of judges (and prosecutors), the promotion of judges, transfer and disciplinary proceedings. For the last task often an independent authority is established responsible for this field of work.

A number of countries have decided to transfer the responsibility for the overall budget of the judiciary to these Councils too. In addition to this the Council may have a policy responsibility for the administration of courts. For example in the area of human resources policies, court infrastructures, information technology, external relations and legislative advice.

In a report that I have drafted together with prof. Dr. Voermans about Councils for the Judiciaries in Europe there are two models of Councils presented: the Southern European model and the Northern European model.

In the Southern European model, the tasks of the Council are concentrated on appointment, transfer, promotion and disciplinary measures. Examples of these Councils can be found in France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

In the Northern European model, also budgetary responsibilities can be found in the law of the Council for the judiciary and policy responsibilities concerning the management of courts. The Councils for the judiciary in the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway are good examples of the Northern European model.

The report (published in 2000 and updated in 2003) was used for the establishment of the Dutch Council for the judiciary in 2002 and is still an important reference document for countries who wants to establish a Council for the judiciary or for councils that have a need for reforming their structure.












©2014 Pim Albers