Strasbourg, 16 January 2007
Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)
Questionnaire for 2007 CCJE opinion concerning the Councils for the Judiciary: Reply submitted by the delegation of Sweden
First, it should be pointed out that in Sweden it is the parliament who, in accordance with the constitution, issues legislation. The government issues decrees, which are considered to be on a lower level than legislation issued by the parliament.
· Yes, for example there has been investigations concerning the procedures for appointing judges (such investigations are generally ordered by the government).
· Judges are independent in their work, and the parliament can not interfere with the powers of a judge.
· The government can order investigations concerning the rules, but can not interfere in a case handled by a court.
3 and 4
In Sweden, the government appoints judges, including chief judges and presidents. However, the government can not interfere in a case handled by a court. In this respect the courts and the judges are independent. The fact that the government appoints judges, could in a way mean that the government interfere in the career of judges. Concerning disciplinary matters, se question no 6.
The judicial staff is working under the authority of a chief judge (district courts) or a president (court of appeal).
· The chief judge or president can not interfere in the adjudication process performed by judges. When a judge seeks to be appointed in another court, the chief judge or president will normally be asked to deliver an opinion about how the judge has performed his task as a judge.
· Cases received by the court are distributed to judges by drawing lots. The chief judge or president does not have the power to distribute work between judges.
· Disciplinary measures against a judge is not decided by the chief judge or president. These matters are handled by either a committee within the national courts administration or a central committee for disciplinary matters.
· The only way in which a chief judge or a president can intervene in the career is by delivering opinions about how a judge has fulfilled his duties.
Domstolsverket (National Courts Administration; henceforward the Courts Administration).
There is a decree issued by the government which defines the duties and competences of the Courts Administration.
The Courts Administration was created in 1975. The administration is an authority under the government. The reason for its creation was the need for a central body which principally could function as administrative support for the courts in Sweden. Before, such administrative tasks had been taken care of by the courts of appeal and also by other institutions. Since administrative duties where dealt with by many different institutions, it was regarded as an advantage if these duties could be handled by one single body. Finally the introduction of new techniques, such as automatic data processing. had begun to come into use, and there was a clear need for centralisation when introducing such new techniques.
The Courts Administration is managed by a general director. There is also a board of directors with ten members, of which one is the director-general (who is also chairman). There are no special qualifications which has to be fulfilled to be appointed as a member of the board. The board consists of three judges from different courts and two representatives from trade unions. Two of the members are members of the Swedish parliament. One of the members represents the Swedish bar association. Finally the county governor of the county of Jönköping is a member of the board of directors.
It should be pointed out that the board of directors is not involved in the daily work of the Courts Administration. This is handled by the staff of the Administration. The board of directors has the right to make decisions in some specific matters. One of these is the decision of the annual financial report of the Courts Administration.
The members of the board of directors are appointed by the government.
The director-general is also appointed by the government.
The members of the board, except the chairman, are normally appointed for a period of three years. The director-general is appointed for a period of six years.
There are no special rules concerning under what circumstances a member of the board can be removed against his or hers will.
From the government.
The qualification varies depending on what kind of work the staff is performing. For instance there are economists, IT-experts and lawyers.
The staff handles all the day-to-day work of the Courts Administration.
For a description of the duties and aims of the Courts Administration, see the enclosed text which is an extract from the website of the Courts Administration.
· The Courts Administration does not appoint judges, presidents or administrative directors of courts. This is done by the government, except for administrative directors, who are appointed by the courts themselves. The number of judges and of courts are also decided by the government, but the Courts Administration can put forward proposals to the government in these matters. Concerning appointment of judges, there is a committee that handles these matters. All the applications so serve as a judge are sent to the committee, which then give proposals to the government. The committee is independent in relation to the Courts Administration.
· The Courts Administration arrange several training-courses for judges and for courts staff. Concerning judges there are courses in all the different levels of a judges career.
· The Courts Administration does not give any opinions on the quality of courts performance and does not set any targets for courts. Targets for courts are to some extent set by the government. These targets mainly deals with the turnaround time for cases in the courts. If a court is misusing funds there are no penalties that can be imposed. If a court should misuse its funds, the Courts Administration would instead try to assist the court in order to solve the problems.
· The Courts Administration does not evaluate the work of a judge. When distributing funds to courts, there are some general aims of how many cases a judge should be able to decide every year. However, it must be pointed out that these aims are not followed up on an individual basis.
· Concerning disciplinary measures, se question no 6.
· The funds for financing the courts are distributed to the courts by the Courts Administration. There are no budget negotiations between the courts and the government. The courts will for each year present their financial needs to the Courts Administration. The Administration will examine the requests from all courts, and this is followed by negotiations with the courts about any different opinions as regards the funds necessary to carry out the activities in the courts. The Courts Administration will every year request from the government the total needs for all courts and the Courts Administration itself for the coming three years.
· The Courts Administration is often asked to give opinions about proposal for new legislation or changes in existing legislation. Recently, a new operational (IT-based) support system has been introduced for the courts in Sweden. During the last years the organizational structure of district courts has been examined. Following decisions by the government, the number of courts has been reduced. One of the purposes has been to create courts which are more efficient and that can cope with normal staff absence without adverse impacts on their day-to-day operation. The Courts Administration play an important role in the implementing the decisions by the government.
The Courts Administration can conduct investigations following authorization by the government. One example is in the area of reorganizing the courts. Investigations has also been conducted as regards methods to make the courts more efficient. The Courts Administration also has conducted investigations concerning the rights of citizens to legal aid.
Information about the functioning of the courts is obtained by statistics concerning the number of cases arriving to the courts and the number of cases decided by the courts. Also, in the process of distributing funds to the courts, the courts must provide the Courts Administration with detailed information about how the court has been functioning during the last 12 months.
The competence for issuing norms is limited, and can not involve any interference with the adjudication process of the courts. The Courts Administration must in every case be authorized by the government to issue any norms. For example, the Courts Administration recently was authorized to issue rules concerning information security, which are binding for the courts. Most of the norms issued by the Courts Administration concern administrative matters.
The functions and responsibilities of the Courts Administration are described in a governmental decree.
The tasks are formulated in a rather general manner.
There are no written codes of ethics, except for some very old codes written in the 16th century.
The Courts Administration has a public relations department for external relations for the Administration and the Judiciary as whole. Some courts have their own public relations departments. Information about the Courts Administration in terms of functioning and organisation are available on the website (see above).
The only decisions that are published are the opinions given by the Courts Administration about proposal for new legislation or changes in existing legislation.
Legislation can in different ways influence the work of the Courts Administration. For example the government can empower the Administration to issue decrees within its area of competence. Also, when new legislation is decided which will influence the courts, the Courts Administration should inform the courts about the new legislation before it enters into force. As regards executive power, the government can instruct the Courts Administration make different kinds of investigation within its area of competence.
The Courts Administration is an independent authority under the government.
The Ministry of Justice is part of the government and therefore also part of the executive power. The Courts Administration is an authority under the government and also the Ministry of Justice, and has mainly administrative responsibilities concerning the Judiciary. To some extent the government can authorize the Courts Administration to issue decrees (also se above).
The Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court are active only in the adjudication process. The Courts Administration can not take part in this process and has no right to interfere in the adjudication process.
See question no 35.
The priorities of action is decided both by the government and the Courts Administration itself. Every year the government will announce some priorities for the work of the Courts Administration (Terms of reference). Then the Administration itself will formulate in more detail the priorities for its work. This is published in plans for the work for the coming three years.
There are no special instruments or practices used to guard the independence of judges or to protect judges from attacks from media or the public. The independence of judges is based on the constitution, in which it is stated that a judge can be suspended only if he or she by committing criminal actions or by setting aside their duties as a judge has shown that he or she obviously is unfit to serve as a judge.
The Courts Administration has no special instruments or practices in case of attacks against its own interest (this would seem rather unlikely to happen).
The Courts Administration do a lot to improve the working method for judges. One example is the above mentioned operational support system which has recently been introduced in all courts in Sweden.
No. It is important that the administrative management is separated from the adjudication process.
Sweden is participating as an observer. So far, it is difficult to point out any concrete benefits from being an observer to the ENCJ.