Strasbourg, 1 March 2007

CCJE REP(2007)36
English only

Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)

Questionnaire for 2007 CCJE opinion concerning the councils for the judiciary : Reply submitted by the delegation of Slovenia

Introduction

In 2007, the CCJE is called to investigate the institutional roles of Councils for the Judiciary or analogous bodies that have been or are being created – sometimes at a constitutional level – in several European countries with the tasks of protecting judicial independence, taking measures concerning courts’ administration and judges’ careers, and ensuring in general a smooth functioning of the principle of separation of powers, which is a cornerstone of modern democratic States based on the rule of law.1

The composition and functions of such bodies vary from country to country2, as do their relationships with governments (especially with the Ministry of Justice), but the concept is essentially the same.

Responding delegations, whose countries institutional frameworks do not include a Council for the Judiciary as such should not hesitate to reply to the questionnaire making reference to the body or the bodies performing similar functions, in the judiciary or outside of it, in order for the CCJE to obtain as far as possible the clearest description of the situation in these countries. In any case, at the end of the present document, there is a specific part for countries without Council for the judiciary.

For the purpose of this questionnaire, and at this stage of the discussion, the expression “Councils for the Judiciary or other analogous body” (in French “Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature ou autre organe équivalent”) has been chosen. The work of the CCJE on the Opinion on this subject will be the occasion to justify this choice. In the questions below the terms “Councils for the Judiciary” or “Council” will be used: if it is not the term used in your country, please just indicate it but reply as far as possible to the questionnaire.

Part I - General context concerning the judiciary

1. Is there possible interference of the legislative power concerning judges? If yes, please specify.
Yes, the Parliament elects judges upon the proposal of the Judicial Council, therefore political considerations are not excluded from this process.
2. Is it possible for the legislative power, the Parliament or the executive power/the government to order investigations or to establish commissions :
§ in general concerning judges? If yes, please specify.
§ concerning judicial performance?
§ concerning facts already submitted to courts?
§ concerning procedural acts (eg. telephonic tapping, police custody)
Yes, concerning judicial performance and procedural acts.

3. Is there possible interference of the executive power concerning judges?
Yes.

4. If yes, is it possible for the executive power to interfere:
- in selection, training, career, disciplinary procedures of judges? (if yes, please specify which authority from the executive power)
- in designation of presidents of courts? (if yes, please specify which authority from the executive power)
- in management of courts? (if yes, please specify which authority from the executive power)
It is possible for the executive power to interfere in training of judges since Ministry of Justice recently became authorized to establish Judicial Training Center at the Ministry of Justice and not at the Supreme Court anymore. The Minister of Justice can also propose a disciplinary procedure against a judge.

5. Is the judicial staff working under the authority of:
§ a judge?
§ the president of the court?
§ the Ministry of Justice?
There is possible for the executive power to interfere in designation of presidents of courts because the minister of justice has a discretionary power to appoint the president of the court upon proposal of Judicial Council or to reject the proposal of Judicial Council and could dismiss the president of court upon the consent of the Judicial Council. The Ministry of Justice could also interfere with the process of management of courts because the presidents are accountable to the minister of justice.

6. What are the competences of the president of the Court:
§ to evaluate the work of the judges of the court?
§ to distribute the work between judges?
§ to act as a disciplinary authority vis-à-vis judges?
§ to intervene in the career of judges?
§ other? If yes, please specify.
Judicial staff works under the authority of the president of the court.
The president of the court can initiate a disciplinary proceedings against a judge and is responsible for appropriate distribution of cases as regards balanced caseload.

Part II – General concerning Councils for the Judiciary

7. Is there a Council for the Judiciary in your judicial system?
Yes.
8. What is the exact title/denomination of this body? (In the case there is no such body, which department or structure - for example the Ministry of Justice - is responsible for the tasks of the Council?)

    Judicial Council.

9. What is the legal basis for the Council for the Judiciary:
§ the Constitution.
§ the law?
§ other? If yes, please specify.

10. Please, give a brief historical overview (when was it created, what were the reasons for setting up the Council, etc.) (in the case there is no such body, why there is no such Council and why do the tasks lay within for example the Ministry of Justice?)

    The Judicial Council was established in 1991. The main reason was to reduce the powers of the executive and legislative branch vis-à-vis judiciary.

Part III - Composition

11. What is the composition of the Council for the Judiciary:
§ Number of members?
§ Qualification of the members?
§ For the “judges” members, do they need specific qualifications or experiences?
§ Can non-judges be members of the Council? Please specify (number, qualification/specific functions)
Eleven (11).
Members of the Judicial Council are judges, law professors, practicing lawyers and other prominent lawyers.
Judges members do need specific experience depending on the level of courts at which they are performing their function. Five non-judges shall be members of the council. They shall be law professors, practicing lawyers and other prominent lawyers.

12. Please describe the whole procedure of appointment:
§ Who designates the members (judges or other institutions or authorities – please specify)?
§ What is the appointment system (voting, individual candidates, designation, etc.)?
Six members – judges of the Judicial Council shall be elected by their peers. Five members shall be elected by the Parliament upon the proposal of the President of the State.
The appointment system is based on voting.

13. How is appointed the President and/or Vice-President of the Council?
Members of the council elect the president and the vice-president of the council among themselves.

14. What is the term of office for a member of the Council?
The term of office for a member of a council is five years.

15. May a member be removed from office against his/her will and, if so, under what circumstances?
A member of the council can not be removed from the office against his or her will, except in case when a judge is dismissed from the bench.

Part IV - Resources

16. Where does the Council receive its financial resources?
From the state budget.

17. Does the Council have its own staff?

    Yes.

18. If not, is the personnel provided by:
§ the Ministry of Justice?
§ the Supreme Court?
§ other institution? Please specify

19. What is the staff number?
The staff number is 1 higher court judge, 3 secretaries-assistants, 1 lawyer.

20. What are the qualifications of the staff?
1 judge, 1 lawyer, 1 chief of the office, 2 business secretaries

21. Must the staff be composed, albeit only in part, by judges?
No.

22. What are the tasks of the staff of the Council:
§ preparing materials for the Council members?
§ providing them with analysis and evaluation of the courts’ practice?
§ other? Please specify.
The tasks of the staff of the council is to prepare the materials for the council members.

Part V - Tasks

23. Please describe the different tasks of the Council for the Judiciary (in the case there is no such body, please specify which bodies are responsible for the below listed tasks – see also part VIII of this questionnaire):

§ in area of personnel policy (appointment and promotion of judges, appointment of the Presidents or the Administrative Directors of the courts, determining the number and location of judges or courthouses, transfer of judges, etc)?

§ in area of initial and/or continuous training for judges and/or courts’ staff3?
§ in area of courts’ performance in general (assessment of quality of court performance4, setting policy and performance standards and targets for courts, imposing penalties for the misuse of funds)?

§ in area of the individual work of a judge (evaluation of his/her work, setting up evaluation criteria as quality and/or quantity of judgements5)?

§ in area of disciplinary procedure against judge (has the Council power of initiative or sanction, is appeal or another legal remedy available against sanctions, when the Council has power in disciplinary matters does it respect the provisions of Article 6 of the ECHR)?

§ in area of the budget for the judiciary (does the Council take part in the budget negotiations with the Government or Parliament, does the Council have competences for the subdivision of financial resources allocated to the courts, for the deployment of funds by individual courts, which courts)?

§ in other areas not already mentioned above (e.g. participation in the law-drafting process, reporting to the Government/Parliament about substantial problems in the court system)? Please specify
Judicial Council is responsible for designation of proposals for candidates to be elected as judges, for decisions concerning promotion of judges, for designation the proposals for court presidents and for determining the number of judges and for transfer of judges to other courts.
Judicial Council has no authority over initial or continuous training for judges or court staff.
Judicial Council is responsible for assessment of quality of court performance, for setting performance standards.
In the area of the individual work of a judge, Judicial Council is authorized to evaluate his or her work for setting up evaluation criteria as quality and quantity of judgements.
In the area of disciplinary procedure against judge, the council has no powers.
In the area of the budget for the judiciary the council takes part in the procedure by providing the opinion to the Parliament on the governmental budget proposal.
In other areas the Judicial Council is authorized to provide the Parliament with its opinion concerning any draft law which regulates the status, rights and duties of judges.

24. Does the Council have investigation powers? If yes, please specify
The council does not have investigation powers.

25. How can the members of the Council have information on the concrete functioning of courts? (where do they receive information from, is the information analysed) Please describe

    The council receives the information on concrete functioning of courts by collecting the statistical information on individual performance of judges.

26. What are the types of norms that the Council can issue:
§ opinions on the functioning of the judiciary?
§ recommendations?
§ instructions to the courts?
§ decisions?
The Judicial Council can issue decisions, opinions and statements.

27. Are the functions or responsibilities of the Council described in law or other norms? Please specify.
The functions and responsibilities of the Judicial Council are prescribed in the Constitution and in Law on Courts and Law on Judicial Service.
If yes, is the formulation of these tasks by legislation general, even declarative, or rather concrete and specific?

28. Does your country have a code of ethics for judges and is it one of the tasks of the Council to guarantee its observance?

    The formulation of the tasks are concrete and specific.
    Slovenia has a Code of ethics for judges adopted by Slovenian Association of Judges, but it is not the task of the Judicial Council to guarantee its observance.

29. Does the Council handle external relationships of the courts:
§ has it a public relations department?
§ how does it ensure the transparency of its functioning and organisation?
Judicial Council does not have any responsibility regarding external relationships of the courts.

30. Are decisions of the Council published and available to all?
Yes.

Part VI – Assessment of the self-governance and the independence of the judiciary

31. To what extent is the work of the Council influenced by:
§ the executive power?
§ the legislative power?
The work of the Judicial Council is influenced by the legislative power by several times changed provisions of Law on Courts regarding the powers and responsibilities of the council. The work of the Judicial Council is influenced by the executive power indirect way through draft budget proposal for the Judicial Council, designed by the Government.

32. Is the Council independent from other States entities, so that it is not subject to control liability in their respect?
The Judicial Council is independent from other state entities and it is not subject to control liability.

33. Which is the division of responsibilities and powers between the Council for the Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice?
The Judicial Council is not a body which would represent judiciary. It is sui generis state body, independent from all three branches of Government and mainly responsible for selection and career of judges.

34. Which is the division of responsibilities and powers between the Council for the Judiciary, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court and the Presidents of the Courts?
The Supreme Court is responsible for preparing draft budget proposal for judiciary (including the budget of the Judicial Council and submittal to the Government which decides on final budget proposal).
The presidents of courts are appointed by the minister of justice upon the proposal of the Judicial Council, except the president of the Supreme Court who is elected by the Parliament upon the proposal of the executive.

35. Is the Supreme Court or are the highest courts also subject to the exercise of the powers of the Council for the Judiciary, or do special rules apply to that respect?

All state courts are subjected to the exercise of powers of the Judicial Council.

36. Who decides which the priorities of actions of the Council are?
Judicial Council itself decides about the priorities.

37. Is it possible for the individual courts or judges to appeal the decisions of the Council? How?
Every decision of the Judicial Council could be appealed. The Judicial Council decides on the appeal and if the appeal is rejected, the applicant has a right to initiate judicial proceedings before the Administrative Court regarding the decision of the Judicial Council.

38. Which instruments or practices are used by the Council:
§ to guard the independence of judges?
§ to protect judges from undue interferences and/or attacks coming from the general public, the media and other powers of the State?
§ to intervene in case of attacks against its own interests6?
§ to improve the working methods of judges?
In order to secure the independence of judges, the Judicial Council has a power to decide on every appeal filed by a judge, who claims that his or her independence has been violated.
In order to protect judges from undue interferences or attacks coming from the general public, the media or the other powers of the state or in case of attacks against its own interest, Judicial Council holds press conferences and issues public statements.
The Judicial Council doesn’t deal with the issue of improving the working methods of judges.

Part VII – Future trends of Councils for the Judiciary

39. Are there particular fundamental problems concerning the administrative management of the courts vis-à-vis the role of the Council? If yes, please describe.
There are no fundamental problems concerning the administrative management of the court vis-à-vis the role of Judicial Council.

40. Are reforms concerning the Council under discussion or envisaged in the near future? If yes, please describe.
No reforms are envisaged.

41. Are there relations between the Council for the Judiciary and judges' professional organisations or associations?
There are established good relations between Judicial Council and Judge’s association.

42. If your country is member of the European Network of Councils for the judiciary (ENCJ), what are the concrete added values of your membership:
§ concerning the national actions of your Council?
§ concerning international co-operation?
The Judicial Council is member of the ENCJ. Added value of the membership concerning the national actions or concerning international cooperation is in sharing experiences and best practices.

43. Are there some other features concerning the Council for the Judiciary which might be of special interest to others from a comparative point of view? If yes, please describe.
No.

Part VIII – Countries without a Council of the Judiciary

44. Are there mechanisms to ensure the functioning of the principle of separation of powers with respect to the judiciary?

45. How and by whom are judges appointed and promoted?

46. Does any authority (body) independent7 of the government and the administration take part in the appointment and promotion process:

§ If yes, how is this authority composed? Is a certain share of judges fixed?
§ How are the members selected?
§ what are the detailed competences of the authority with respect to the appointment and promotion of judges?

47. How are the courts’ activities funded? Do judges have any say whatsoever in decisions concerning funding or in managing the budget?

48. Is the creation of a Council of the Judiciary contemplated? If yes, what will be its competences?

Prepared by: Aleš Zalar, Member of CCJE

1 Restructuring of the organisation of courts and introduction of modern management techniques, as well as the balance that needs to be guaranteed as for independence of judges, have been discussed by the CCJE in some of its previous Opinions (See references of these Opinions below in footnotes – For the list and the exact titles of the CCJE’s Opinions, please consult the website: www.coe.int/ccje).

2 The Councils or analogous bodies can be roughly divided between a Northern and a Southern European model. In the Northern European (for example Sweden, Denmark, Norway) model the organisation of the administration of the courts dominates. In these countries, the bodies – whose relationship with the Ministries of Justice is quite close - have extensive powers also in determining the budgets and management of the courts. In Southern Europe (in countries such as Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Belgium) the Councils – that are separated from the Ministry of Justice - mostly deal with the recruitment of the judges, and their training, evaluation, transfers, promotion and discipline. Additionally, a Russian model is also identifiable, in which the highest courts of the country are vested also with the powers of their courts’ administration. As to Central and Eastern European countries, Lithuania and Hungary approach to the Northern European model, whereas Romania, Bulgaria and Poland are closer to the Southern European model. The common law countries have specific judicial commissions that perform tasks comparable with the one of the Councils.

3 Please consider the following statements contained in the CCJE’s Opinion No. 4:
- para. 17: "In order to ensure proper separation of roles, the same authority should not be directly responsible for both training and disciplining judges. The CCJE therefore recommends that, under the authority of the judiciary or other independent body, training should be entrusted to a special autonomous establishment with its own budget, which is thus able, in consultation with judges, to devise training programmes and ensure their implementation.";
- para. 18: "Those responsible for training should not also be directly responsible for appointing or promoting judges. If the body (i.e. a judicial service commission) referred to in the CCJE's Opinion N° 1, paragraphs 73 (3), 37, and 45, is competent for training and appointment or promotion, a clear separation should be provided between its branches responsible for these tasks.".

4 Please consider the following statements contained in the CCJE’s Opinion No. 6: - para 34: “The CCJE strongly emphasises, first of all, that the evaluation of "quality" of the justice system, i.e. of the performance of the court system as a whole or of each individual court or local group of courts, should not be confused with the evaluation of the professional ability of every single judge. Professional evaluation of judges, especially when aiming at decisions influencing their status or career, is a task that has other purposes and should be performed on the basis of objective criteria with all guarantees for judicial independence”.

- para 47: “The CCJE believes that it is in the interest of the judiciary that data collection and monitoring be performed on a regular basis, and that appropriate procedures allow a ready adjustment of the organisation of courts to changes in the caseloads. In order to reconcile the realisation of this need with the guarantees of independence of the judiciary (namely, with the principle of irremovability of the judge and the prohibition of removal of cases from a judge), it seems advisable to the CCJE that the authority competent for data collection and monitoring should be the independent body (…); if another body is competent for data collection and monitoring, the states should assure that such activities remain within the public sphere in order to preserve the relevant policy interests linked with the data treatment concerning justice; the independent body should however have power to take measures necessary to adjust the court organisation to the change in caseloads.”

5 Please consider the following statements contained in the CCJE’s Opinion No. 1:

- para 45: “Even in legal systems where good standards have been observed by force of tradition and informal self-discipline, customarily under the scrutiny of a free media, there has been increasing recognition in recent years of a need for more objective and formal safeguards. In other states, particularly those of former communist countries, the need is pressing. The CCJE considered that the European Charter - in so far as it advocated the intervention (in a sense wide enough to include an opinion, recommendation or proposal as well as an actual decision) of an independent authority with substantial judicial representation chosen democratically by other judges - pointed in a general direction which the CCJE wished to commend. This is particularly important for countries which do not have other long-entrenched and democratically proved systems.”

- and para 34 of CCJE’s Opinion No. 6 (see footnote 4 above).
6 Please consider the following statements contained in the CCJE’s Opinion No. 7:

- para 55: “When a judge or a court is challenged or attacked by the media (or by political or other social actors by way of the media) for reasons connected with the administration of justice, the CCJE considers that, in view of the duty of judicial self-restraint, the judge involved should refrain from reactions through the same channels. Bearing in mind the fact that the courts can rectify erroneous information diffused in the press, the CCJE believes it would be desirable that the national judiciaries benefit from the support of persons or a body (e.g. the Higher Council for the Judiciary or judges’ associations) able and ready to respond promptly and efficiently to such challenges or attacks in appropriate cases. “

7 One example is the Committees for the Selection of Judges in several German Länder (composed mainly of members of Parliament and judges) who may decline the Minister’s of Justice suggestion for the appointment or promotion of a candidate (veto right). Another example are the German Councils for Judicial Appointments which consist of the president of the court and of judges elected by their colleagues who deliver a written (not binding) opinion on a candidate’s personal and professional aptitude (as provided by Land law with respect to appointment and/or promotion).



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