Strasbourg, 16 January 2007 CCJE REP(2007)14
CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL OF EUROPEAN JUDGES
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR 2007 CCJE OPINION
CONCERNING THE COUNCILS FOR THE JUDICIARY
Reply submitted by
the delegation of Denmark
CCJE-QUESTIONNAIRE ON COUNCILS FOR THE JUDICIARY
Part I. General context concerning the Judiciary
1-4. No. The Danish constitution prohibits any interference with judicial decisions by the legislative power, the Parliament or the executive power.
The Constitution also protects judges against arbitrary removal and guarantees that removal or transfer of judges can take place only by court decision.
A special court, the Special Complaint Court, deals with such cases and other cases concerning possible disciplinary action against judges – with appeal to the Supreme Court.
5. The president of the court holds the administrative authority regarding the judicial staff. In a concrete case before the court, however, a member of the judicial staff acts independently.
6. The president of the court is responsible for the management of the funds and other administrative matters left to the court, which amongst others includes the right to distribution of work between the judges and setting out guidelines for the administrative handling of cases.
The president of the court is authorised by law to give an official warning to a judge on certain conditions defined by law. The authority to take other disciplinary action against judges is entrusted to the Special Complaint Court.
Part II – General concerning Councils for the Judiciary
7-10. On 1 July 1999, a new independent institution named the Danish Court Administration was established by law (the Danish Court Administration Act) with the primary task of ensuring an adequate administration of the courts´ funds, staff, buildings and IT.
Previously, the Danish Ministry of Justice was responsible for the administration of the courts. Although the independence of the judiciary was in no way jeopardised, the main purpose behind the adoption of the Danish Court Administration Act was to emphasise the independence of the Danish courts.
See also reply to question 46-48 on the Judicial Appointments Council.
Part III - Composition
11. A board of governors (the Court Administration Board) is the chief executive and generally liable for the activities of the Danish Court Administration. The director, who is appointed and may be discharged by the board of governors, is in charge of the day-to-day management.
As laid down in the Danish Court Administration Act the Court Administration Board is composed by eight court representatives, one attorney and two members with special management and social insights. Among the court representatives are one Supreme Court Justice, two Court of Appeal judges, two District Court judges, one member representing other legal personnel than judges, and two members representing the administrative personnel.
In addition to this, the Danish Court Administration Act stipulates no special requirements in regard to the qualifications of the individual members of the Court Administration Board.
12. It is stipulated by the Danish Court Administration Act that the members of the Court Administration Board, who are judges, are nominated by the Court system, that the attorney is nominated by the Danish Bar, and that the members with special management and social insights are nominated by two public institutions, the Danish University Rectors´ Conference Secretariat and the National Employment Council.
Formally, the Minister of Justice appoints the Court Administration Board.
13. The Chair and the Vice-Chair of the board is elected by the Board among its Members.
14. The term of the members of the Court Administration Board is four years. Reappointment can take place.
15. A member of the Court Administration Board can be removed against his/her will through a decision by the Special Complaint Court. As a precondition for such a decision the member must have shown gross negligence in carrying out his duties or acted in a way that to a considerable extent weakens the confidence in him carrying out his duties as a member of the Board satisfactorily. Either the Minister of Justice or the Court Administration Board brings the question of dismissal of a member of the Board before the Special Complaint Court.
Part IV – Resources
16. The financial resources of the Danish Court Administration stem from the State budget.
In the State Budget, the Danish Courts (including the Danish Court Administration) have a separate account under the appropriation of the Ministry of Justice. If the Court Administration Board finds that the grant as fixed in the government draft state budget would not sufficiently cover the operations of the Danish Courts, the Board can forward its own budget proposal regarding the Danish Courts to Parliament for its consideration in the budget negotiations.
17-21. The Danish Court Administration has approximately 85 employees divided into the following 8 units: Management secretariat, Communication unit, Centre for quality and development of the courts, Centre for economy and analysis, Centre for development of IT, IT-unit, Centre for personnel and education, Accounting unit.
The staff is composed by lawyers mainly recruited from the court system (deputy judges and assistant judges) and administrative personnel, primarily clerical workers. There are no formal requirements regarding the composition of the staff.
22. See the reply to question 23.
Part V – Tasks
23. Within the framework of its overall liability for the administration of the courts and the activities of the Danish Court Administration, the Court Administration Board first of all is charged with ensuring a modern and adequate administration of the courts in which the courts operate both effectively and with due regard to the principle of the rule of law.
The main tasks to this end are:
- to elaborate budget proposals for the Danish Courts (i.e. the whole court system) ahead of each fiscal year,
- to undertake the overall distribution of the funds within the framework of the state budget,
- to set out guidelines for the activities and approve the work program of the Danish Court Administration,
- to appoint and discharge the director of the Danish Court administration, and
- to publish a yearly report on the operations of the Danish Court administration.
On behalf of the Court Administration Board the Danish Court Administration will undertake the following main tasks:
- Assistance of the Court Administration Board in elaborating budget proposals etc.,
- Administration of court personnel, including training, Human Resource-development etc. for judges and other court staff,
- Administration of buildings and IT,
- Court reform/development initiatives,
- Development of methods regarding assessment of court performances, and
- Carrying out secretarial functions for the Judicial Appointments Council.
25. As an integrated part of the case handling system within the courts statistics on the cases are automatically generated. Besides from obtaining these statistics from the courts, the Danish Court Administration carries out surveys on the level of satisfaction with users, employees etc. in regard to court services.
26. The Court Administration Board is charged with decision-making regarding the overall distribution of the funds within the frames of the state budget.
As part of the responsibility of the Court Administration Board for the administration of the courts - and within the framework of the Danish Administration of Justice Act - the Danish Court Administration makes decisions, issues recommendations etc. in regard to administrative matters relating to the court personnel, buildings etc. (to the extent these tasks have not been transferred to the presidents of the courts).
27-28. Apart from the stipulation of the overall liability of the Danish Court Administration the Danish Court Administration Act contains a description of the concrete tasks of the board that are considered as the more important. See also reply to question 7-11 and 23.
30. There is a Communication Unit within the Danish Court Administration which handles the general public relations of the courts.
Further, a communication policy for the Danish Courts with the aim of ensuring widespread information about the activities within the court system has been adopted. As a part of this, an extensive homepage that informs about the whole court system is administered by the Danish Court Administration. Finally, a yearly report on the activities of the Danish Court Administration is issued.
31. Pursuant to the Danish Act on Access to Public Administration Files, which applies to the Danish Court Administration, anyone has – apart from certain exceptions - the right to access to the documents drawn up or received by the Danish Court Administration as part of its handling of cases.
Part VI – Assessment of the self-governance and the independence of the judiciary
32-33. The Danish Court Administration is an independent institution which is under no influence by the legislative or executive power. See also reply to question 11.
34. As the Minister of Justice is not authorised to issue instructions to the Danish Court Administration, the minister does not have legal responsibility for the manner in which the activities of the Danish Court Administration are carried out.
Whereas the Court Administration Board is charged with the administration and financing of the courts, the Minister of Justice is still responsible for securing sufficient funds for the courts through the State Budget and to elaborate and table draft laws within the judicial area.
35. The Danish Court Administration Board has the responsibility for the overall administration of the courts, whereas the presidents of the courts are charged with the administrative duties transferred to them, including the daily management of the courts.
36. Within the framework of the Danish Administration of Justice Act the Supreme Court is subject to the powers of the Danish Court Administration in relation to the above mentioned administrative and financial matters.
37. The Danish Court Administration Board sets out its own priorities within the framework of its overall functions.
39. The independence of the judges is guaranteed by the Danish Constitution and the Danish Administration of Justice Act.
As a particular measure, which among others aims to protect judges from the media, a communication policy for the Danish Courts has been adopted and a communication network for the courts has been established.
Various measures, including a so-called “best-practise project”, in which recommendations - based on empirical analysis - for appropriate working methods in handling court cases etc. are made available to the judges. Also, offers to participate in supplementary training are made to the judges.
Part VII - Future trends of Councils for the Judiciary
40-41. As the adoption of a Court Administration Act in order to establish a Court Administration Board together with the enactment of changes to the Administration of Justice Act in order to establish an independent Judicial Appointments Council has taken place (in 1998 with the rules coming into force in 1999), there are no reform initiatives envisaged in this area in the near future.
In this respect it should be mentioned that a major court reform amongst others reducing the number of district courts from 82 to 24, by which it is aimed to ensure the highest possible level of professional competence and service and an efficient case administration, has come into force on 1 January 2007 and is now being implemented.
42. The professional organisation of judges and the professional organisation of assistant judges are involved in the nomination of members to the Court Administration Board.
Further, representatives from the professional organisations take part in the main liaison committee of the courts and in working groups established under the auspices of the Danish Court Administration.
43. The Membership of ENCJ is providing the Danish Court Administration with valuable information and contacts and it has proved useful both in relation to e.g. considerations of ways of handling various issues relating to the national administration of courts and in order to further improve the international cooperation between the Danish Court Administration and other international institutions etc.
44. Cf. the replies to the previous questions.
Part VIII – Countries without a Council for the Judiciary
45-48. As it follows from above, the majority of functions (i.e. administration of courts and protection of judicial independence) that in some countries are carried out by an institution named the Council of the Judiciary are in Denmark carried out by the Court Administration Board.
Especially with regard to judicial appointments and promotions, an independent Judicial Appointments Council was established by law (the Administration of Justice Act) in 1999.
The Council submits reasoned recommendations to the Minister of Justice for all judicial appointments and promotions except for the post for President of the Supreme Court (elected by and among the justices of the Supreme Court). It is provided that the Minister of Justice in practice always follows the recommendations of the Council.
The Judicial Appointments Council is composed by a Supreme Court Justice, a High Court judge, a District Court judge, an attorney and two representatives of the public, who are all appointed by the Minister of Justice following nomination. The judges are nominated by the Supreme Court, the High Courts and the professional organisation of judges respectively. The attorney is nominated by the bar and the representatives of the public are nominated by the Danish Adult Education Association and the National Association for the Municipalities respectively.
Secretarial functions of the Judicial Appointments Council are carried out by the Danish Court Administration.