12 April, 2007
Discussions and development of Judicial Councils of other countries contain significant experience – information and arguments, that can be useful to Latvia, where such council creation is being considered, - Senator of Supreme Court Veronika Krūmiņa after her coming back from Third European Judge Conference in Rome has admitted. On the conference, which’s subject was “Judicial Councils in Europe” experience of different countries was examined, and it was discussed over the membership, competence of judicial councils so as about their place in institutional system of the state and role they play consolidating the independency of courts so as over the judicial councils as the sort of a guarantee of courts and judges reputation.
In many European countries various councils are operating in judicial field, that are called Judicial Councils or Magistrate Councils. Usually they appear as mediators between government and judicial power, to ensure the independency of judicial power. In different countries Judicial Councils have different authorities. Some councils, e.g. in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium, are formed in accordance with so called Southern European model. Such councils are usually responsible for appointment, promotion and education of people working in court system and hear disciplinary cases. Liability and authorities of judicial council based on this model are mostly related to issues of individual work of a judge. In its part judicial councils in Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Netherlands that are created in accordance with Northern European model are responsible for court administration (supervision of courts administrations, management of cases and work load, time required to hear the case, contribution to legal coordination, quality), court management (space issues, computerization, personnel management, education etc.) and courts budget. Development and authorities of judicial councils of such model are not directed towards judge personal career matters but to effective management of court system.
Should countries, in which judicial councils are not created and administration of court system is in the competence of Ministry of Justice, choose one of these models and change the form of liability? Referents of the conference came to conclusion that experience of other countries can not be adopted directly. Other countries experience regarding judicial councils was defined by specific social and constitutional context of each country, the development of the country took place as well. It is impossible to create one model of judicial council and bring it into every country. “Which model is to be chosen and if it necessary in the whole, is depended on development, culture and traditions of concrete country. If the independency of judicial power is strong and there are no more discussion over it, if the level or legal culture is high and courts have high reputation, possible that judicial council is not necessary at all. But if not so, such council can be created as one of guarantees of judicial power ”, says V. Krūmiņa. So as what kind of membership should council have is depended on characteristics of each country, though as previous experience show, not only judges should form the council, it is expedient if representatives of other professions related to courts form it – such as advocates and prosecutors.
The administrative work of district (city) courts, regional courts and Land Register is organized and provided by Court Administration – the structural unit under supervision of Chief Justice of Supreme Court. Judge and court officials further education is provided by Judge Educational Centre. Individual career issues of the judges are in the competence of judge self-government institutions – Judge Qualification Committee and Disciplinary Committee.
Judicial Council creation issue became more actual with creation of new draft law Governing the Court system. She evaluates that Judicial Council is seen there as “consultative and coordinative institution, that takes part in development of politics and strategy and improvement of court system”. Fist of all, we need to comprehend the main function of Judicial Council – be the guarantee of autonomy and independency of judicial power, secondly comprehend that independency of this one power is correlated to financing, which administrating is taken by courts themselves. “It should be said aloud clearly, are we ready and are we taking this way”, says V. Krūmiņa.