Strasbourg, 14 February 2002
CCJE (2003) 10
Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)
Questionnaire on judges’ training: reply submitted by the delegation of Lithuania
Questionnaire on judges’ training
1, 2. Are prospective judges given any initial training? If so, how long it lasts? Is the right or requirement to undergo training stipulated in any law or regulation?
A requirement to undergo an initial training for a certain candidates to judges was foreseen in the Article 22 of Law on Courts of the Republic of Lithuania (passed in 1994). It stated that a person may be designated as a district court judge, if he/she has at least 25 years of age, impeccable reputation, master degree in law or one – level juridical university education, has successfully finished the candidacy practise, as well as has passed the judge's examinations. The requirement to pass the candidacy practise was not applicable to doctors of social sciences in the field of law and habilitated doctors, persons who have been acting in a judicial capacity for one year or as assistant judges of the Supreme Court of Lithuania, advisors to chairpersons of courts or chairpersons of divisions of courts, prosecutors, assistant prosecutors, lawyers, notaries or Seimas ombudsmen for three years, or having the work experience in the field of law for not less than five years according to the official list approved by the Government, as well as to persons who are appointed as mortgage judges. These persons might be designated as district court judges provided that they are at least 25 years of age, have impeccable reputation, master degree in law or one – level juridical university education, and have passed the judge’s examinations.
Persons who had an impeccable reputation, juridical university education but who had not practised law as judges or who had not practised law as a prosecutor, deputy prosecutor, assistant prosecutor, or a lawyer for 5 years, and willing to be district court judges might be appointed as candidates to district court judges. The candidate had to work on probation for 1 year and pass the district court judge's examinations.
In the new Law on Courts1 the requirement to undergo the candidacy practise in not foreseen, as all the candidates to district court judges must meet the requirement of minimal legal practise, which is not less than 5 years.
Article 92 of the Law on Courts (2002) states that introductory (initial) training must be provided for judges. Introductory (initial) training is compulsory to persons, firstly appointed as local courts judges, before their appointment, and lasts not less than 1 month.
3. Is training run and financed by the state or by other means? Is it free of charge for prospective judges and are the latter paid?
Training for judges (as well as candidates to judges) is free.
However, the funding of the activity of the main judicial training institution - Judicial Training Centre (JTC) from the state budget was not sufficient enough. Most funds were received as the financial support from foreign states, international organisations and funds, such as UNDP, Open Society Fund Lithuania, Council of Europe, Democracy Commission, etc.
Article 94 of the new Law on Courts (2002) states that the training of judges shall be financed by the state.
4. Is there a judges training institution? If so, is it a permanent public body?
Judicial training is organised through the Lithuanian Judicial Training Centre (JTC) established in Vilnius as well as in the town of Molėtai. Lithuanian Judicial Training Centre is a non-governmental and non-profit organization, founded on 27 March 1997 under the Law on Public Institutions of the Republic of Lithuania. The founders of the LJTC are the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court, the Lithuanian Judges Association, the United Nations Development Programme, the American Bar Association-Central and East European Law Initiative, and the Open Society Found-Lithuania. The goal of the JTC is to provide continuing education and training to judges, judicial candidates, and support personnel such as bailiffs and hearing secretaries, in order to improve their skills and professional qualifications. This should in turn enhance operation of the court system.
5. If there is such an institution, please describe briefly how it is organised, how it operates and who provides the training.
The LJTC board constitutes of 9 members: every founder proposes his own candidate, and 3 candidates are selected by all founders from among famous lawyers with a condition that the candidate is not from the founder’s institution.
The LJTC is providing both seminar and lecture format sessions, covering the most important topics, as identified by the judges themselves. In addition, it is conducting research, both independently and in conjunction with other institutions, concerning the status of courts and court practices. This enables it to identify legal and operational issues, which considered priorities for judicial training. Teaching foreign language skills and computer skills are also within its mandate. To support these activities, the JTC also maintains a library, and works to make as much information as possible available to the courts, both through publications and electronic/computer means. Curriculum is composed by the JTC administration in the close cooperation with judges.
In 2000 12 training programmes were approved, from among them:
1. General programme of training for judges.
2. Training programme for judges having less than 5 years of judicial practise.
3. Training programme for judges having less than 1 year of judicial practise.
4. Training programme for judges of administrative courts.
5. Training programme for candidates to local courts judges, and others.
65 seminars were organized in 2000. 20 international seminars were organized in cooperation with Council of Europe, BELLA and PHARE.
Most lecturers of the LJTC are academics, practicing judges as well as international experts.
The Ministry of Justice however has strictly criticizing the JTC for the lack of efficiency. Under the new legislation the Ministry of Justice will be responsible for running of judges’ training and is supposed to be provided with the budget assignations equal to 1.5 % of all judicial system budget. After the new Law on Courts (2002) comes into effect the JTC shall stop its activities.
6. What subjects does judges’ initial training cover?
Civil and criminal procedure, civil law, criminal law, judicial ethics, basic psychology, organization and planning of work, computer skills.
7. Is there an end –of-training examination to assess ability to perform the duties of judge?
No. According to Law on Courts, all candidates to judges must pass the judges examination before their appointment. The requirement to pass the examination is not applicable to doctors of social sciences in the field of law and habilitated doctors, as well as persons who have been acting in a judicial capacity for not less as five years, considering that no more than five years have passed since the end of such practice.
1. Is there in-service judges’ training scheme? If so, how is it organised and what subjects are covered?
General programme of training for judges, organized and carried out by LJTC, covers 72 subjects, such as particularities of administrative proceedings, tax law, enterprises law, bankruptcy law, intellectual property law, particularities of certain categories of civil cases (real property disputes, lodging disputes, land disputes, labour disputes), property crimes, financial crimes, crimes against the person, summary proceedings, European Convention of human rights, international law, interpretation of law, technique of writing of a judgment, judicial ethics, administration of courts, and others.
2. Is in-service training optional or compulsory?
In service training was optional. However, Article 92 of the new Law on Courts provides that the improvement of qualification is compulsory before the promotion of a judge, transfer of a judge from the court of the general jurisdiction to specialised court and vice versa, when the legal regulation changes rapidly, and in other cases. In any case the improvement of qualification is compulsory every 5 years.
3. Who runs such training?
Under the new Law on Courts it will be done by the Ministry of Justice in cooperation with the Judicial Council.
4. What approaches are adopted to impress upon judges the need to improve their professional skills?
Prior to the new Law on Courts, the requirement to improve the professional qualifications was determined in the Rules of Professional Ethics of judges. Moreover, in 1998 the previous Law on Courts was supplemented by Article 25(1), stating that in the case of promotion, the intensity of improvement of professional qualifications of a judge must be considered. It has to be said, however, that judges participated in training willingly and no special efforts were needed.
5. Is there a specific training scheme for judges at the beginning of their careers?
The aforementioned training programme for judges having less than 5 years of judicial practise and training programme for judges having less than 1 year of judicial practise. Both programmes cover mostly civil, criminal law, as well as civil and criminal procedure, judicial ethics, basic psychology, organisation of work, relationship with the chairperson of court, but training programme for judges having less than 1 year of judicial practise is more particular, when training programme for judges having less than 5 years of judicial practise mostly focuses on problematic areas.