Strasbourg, 10 April 2003
CCJE (2003) 19
Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)
Questionnaire on judges’ training: reply submitted by the delegation of Iceland
Questionnaire on Judges, Training
a) Initial training for prospective judges
1. Are prospective judges given any initial training?
If so, how long does this last?
There is no official training program for prospective judges. On the average only one or two new judges are appointed each year. Such a small number does not support a training program. It is, on the other hand, being considered whether Iceland could send new judges to training programs in other countries and we have especially been looking to Norway in that regard.
One of the conditions for being eligible for appointment as a judge is a three year working period. This applies both with respect to district and Supreme Court judges.1 It is not required that this working experience has taken place within the judiciary.
a) Supreme Court. Article 4, paragraph 1, item 7 of the Act on the Judiciary, law no. 15/1998, states: “Has for a period not shorter than three years been a district court judge, Supreme Court lawyer, professor of law, commissioner of police, magistrate, Director of Public Prosecutions, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, public prosecutor, Director General of a Government Ministry, Chief of Office at the Ministry of Justice, or Ombudsman, or has for such period discharged a similar function providing similar legal experience.
b) District courts. Article 12, paragraph 2, item 7 of the Act on the Judiciary, law no. 15/1998, states: “Has for a period not shorter than three years been a Member of Parliament or has, without interruption, been a lawyer representing litigants in court, or has been, as a main occupation, engaged as a lawyer with national or municipal public authorities. The periods in each of these occupations may be added together.”
According to article 6, paragraph 2 and article 17 of the Act on the Judiciary, law no. 15/1998, lawyers may be engaged on both levels for assisting the judges. During the preparation of the law these positions were seen as prospective training positions. In fact this has not turned out to be systematically the case.
2. Is the right to or requirement to undergo training stipulated in any law or regulation?
If so, please specify.
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?
No initial training is run and financed by the state or by other means.
4. Is there a judges’ training institution?
If so, is it a permanent public body?
5. If there is such an institution, please describe briefly how it is organised, how it operates and who provides the training.
6. What subjects does judges’ initial training cover?
7. Is there an end-of-training examination to assess ability to perform the duties of judge?
b) In-service training
1. Is there an in-service judges’ training scheme?
If so, how is it organised and what subjects are covered?
The Council of District Courts Administration has in accordance with article 14, paragraph 1, item 3, of the Act on the Judiciary, law no. 15/1998 issued a scheme regarding in-service training. According to that scheme the Council organises seminars and courses on various topics. The aim is to secure that judges keep up with changes in the law, local and international, as well as in other relevant fields. Accordingly the subject matter of courses and seminars varies and is not necessarily repeated. Last seminar was a two day seminar on two topics: judicial writing and evidence in criminal cases.
Iceland participates in SEND (Samarbejdsorganet for efteruddannelse af Nordens Dommere), a pan-Nordic association for continuing education for judges. Every year a seminar is held in one of the Nordic countries.
The Icelandic Association of Judges also initiates and/or participates in training-programs and seminars for lawyers. These are often co-sponsored by the Lawyers Association and/or the Association of Advocates, the Institute of Continuing Education at the University of Iceland and the Institute of Continuing Education at the University of Reykjavík.
Every second or third year the Icelandic Association of Judges organises a visit to a foreign Association of Judges including visit to courts and other organisations connected to the judiciary.
In addition to what has been stated above, Icelandic judges can apply for a leave and a grant in order to study abroad or do research. This can either be in the form of practical training at a foreign court, or for academic purposes. Leave may be granted for maximum 12 months.
2. Is in-service training optional or compulsory?
Participation is optional. However, according to article 24, paragraph 3 of the Act on the Judiciary, law no. 15/1998, judges have a general duty to endeavour to maintain their knowledge of the law. In order that they may do so they shall, as possible, be afforded opportunities for leave and support for continuing education. A fund has been established to which they can apply for financial support.
3. Who runs such training?
See answer to item 1.
4. What approaches are adopted to impress upon judges the need to improve their professional skills?
See answer to item 2. Judges are generally enthusiastic about re-training programs and participation is good. Topics often relate to subjects that have stimulated general interest, for example because of resent changes in local law or international law, an important judicial opinion or social debate.
5. Is there a specific training scheme for judges at the beginning of their careers? If so, please describe it briefly.