Strasbourg, 18 November 2002
CCJE (2002) 36
Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)
Questionnaire on the conduct, ethics and responsibility of judges: reply submitted by the delegation of Denmark
Questionnaire on the conduct, ethics and responsibility of judges
1. What are the statutory obligations by which judges are bound ?
The Constitution guarantees judges absolute independence from the Government and the Parliament. Section 64 of the Constitution provides the judges in the execution of their duties are to be governed by the law only. The obligations of Danish judges are more specifically governed in the Danish Administration of Justice Act chapter 4.
2. Is there a judge’s code of conduct?
The conduct of Danish judges is regulated in the Danish Administration of Justice Act chapters 4 and 5.
In the Danish Administration of Justice Act section 49 it is stated, that if a judge has been guilty of negligence or carelessness in his or her work the Special Court of Indictment and Revision can show it’s disapproval or impose a fine on him or her. In grave cases the judge can be dismissed from his or her post.
3. What incompatibilities are there between the duties of judge and other functions or professions?
Danish judges are allowed to participate in other kinds of work, the typical areas being heading public councils or boards, arbitration and teaching.
According to the Danish Administration of Justice Act section 47 a judge can only have fixed income from other employment if he or she is allowed to by the Board of Presidents. The Board of Presidents consist of the Presidents of the largest city courts, the High Courts, The Maritime and Commercial Court and The Supreme Court, thus guaranteeing that no judge takes on more extra work than he or she can handle. All income for other extra work must once a year be reported to the president of the court where the judge work, or to the president of one of the two High Courts. These reports are published.
4. In what circumstances can the impartiality or apparent impartiality of judges be called into question in accordance with the law or case law?
Disqualification of judges by reason of conflict of interest is governed by chapter 5 in the Danish Administration of Justice Act. According to sections 60 and 61 a judge is disqualified if he or she is related or connected to some of the parties of the case or any other circumstance could raise doubt as to the complete impartiality of the judge in question.
5. Can judges incur criminal or civil liability for acts committed in the performance of their duties?
5.1. In what circumstances?
If a judge has committed a crime or is found liable to pay damages in accordance with Danish law.
5.2. What is the procedure involved?
If the judge is liable to pay damages – i.e. for passing a judgement by default without the conditions to do so existing – the damages will be paid by the Court Administration. In very grave conditions the Court Administration can reclaim the amount paid from the judge. If the Court Administration does not admit liability, the Court Administration can be sued by an individual or company seeking compensation.
5.3. What is the competent institution or authority?
Normal civil or criminal proceedings.
5.4. What sanctions or compensatory measures can be applied?
Any sanction or compensation in accordance with Danish law can be applied. However, sanctions against misconduct by judges not found to be a criminal offence, is decided by the Special Court of Indictment and Revision as mentioned below.
6. Can judges be subject to disciplinary proceedings?
6.1. In what circumstances?
If a judge has not acted in accordance with chapter 4 in the Danish Administration of Justice Act, as regulated especially in section 48 and 49.
6.2. What is the procedure involved?
A complaint over a judge may within two weeks be lodged with the Director of Public Prosecutions, who in turn will bring the matter before the Special Court of Indictment and Revision.
6.3. What is the competent institution or authority?
The Special Court of Indictment and Revision. The Special Court is made up by one Supreme Court judge, one High Court judge, one city court judge, one solicitor and one lawyer with a more academic background, typically a professor of law.
6.4. What disciplinary sanctions can be imposed?
See answer to question 2.