Strasbourg, 16 May 2002
CCJE (2003) 22
Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)
Questionnaire on judges’ training: reply submitted by the delegation of Austria
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?
To become a judge you have to pass a period of four years as a candidate for judge during which you are trained mainly on the job and partly in courses and seminars.
2. Is the right to or requirement to undergo training stipulated in any law or regulation?
If so, please specify the requirement mentioned in point 1 is stated by law (Richterdienstgesetz = judges code)
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?
The training is financed by the state. The persons who are passing this period get a remuneration
4. Is there a judges’ training institution?
If so, is it a permanent public body?
They training is organised by the president of the court of appeal (Oberlandesgericht). There are four courts of appeal in Austria. There presidents are judges. But in respect of their administrative tasks (and only in this respect) the presidents have to follow the order of the minister of justice if there is such an order. The organisation of the training belongs to the administrative matters.
The law stipulates that there have to be courses in certain fields (e.g. criminal procedural law, labour law, law of the media, training in court hearings, criminology, psychiatry, use of computer facilities etc. The president of the court of appeal decides which course is provided at which time, who are the teachers, he organises excursions (e.g. to visit the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg).
There are two training centres within Austria. They provide the necessary infrastructure (rooms, technical equipment, lodging), but they do not influence the contents of the training program. In this training centres many courses, which last longer than one day are organised, other training programs take place at the courts of appeal.
Most of the teachers are judges who are well experienced in the respective field. But in some fields, especially in the non juridical fields experts form outside the judiciary are chosen.
5. If there is such an institution, please describe briefly how it is organised, how it operates and who provides the training.
See question 5
6. What subjects does judges’ initial training cover?
At the training on the job the following training units have to be passed:
First instance civil cases
First instance criminal cases
Court of appeal or supreme court
5 months at a lawyer
3 weeks at a correctional institution or probation officers institution
The seminars and courses have to cover the following subjects:
Regarding to all fields of the work of a judge, law, techniques, and basic knowledge in all sciences which are connected to this work (criminology, psychiatry, medical science,
7. Is there an end-of-training examination to assess ability to perform the duties of judge?
Near the end of the period of four years mentioned in point a) 1 there is a large examination, one has to pass . If one fails twice the position as a candidate will end. The mark of the examination will be taken into consideration when applying for a judges position.
b) In-service training
1. Is there an in-service judges’ training scheme?
If so, how is it organised and what subjects are covered?
There is a lot of in-service training. More than 1/3 is provided by the judges association, the others by the presidents of the courts of appeal and some of the ministry of judges or other institutions. Once a year there is a conference to co-ordinate this training activities. A consultative council has been established by the minister of justice some years ago to work on proposals for guiding issues (like anti-discrimination training) and discuss further developments.
2. Is in-service training optional or compulsory?
The in-service training is totally optional.
3. Who runs such training?
See point b) 1
4. What approaches are adopted to impress upon judges the need to improve their professional skills?
The very strong involvement of the judges association, who guarantees that the offer very much meets the needs helps that many judges participate
5. Is there a specific training scheme for judges at the beginning of their careers? If so, please describe it briefly.
There is no specific training scheme for this group of judges. Sometimes the presidents of the courts of appeal organise a meeting to exchange experiences after some months following the first appointment as a judge.
The judges association form time to time organises meetings of judges of the first, second and third instance of a certain field, where points of view and practical hints can be exchanged quite frankly.