SELECTION AND EVALUATION OF JUDGES
– IMPACT OF CRITERIA AND PROCEDURE
ON INDEPENDENCE OF JUDICIARY
Ever since the adoption of the Constitutional amendments in February 2022, Serbia has been accelerating judicial reform, including adoption of new judicial package of laws in early 2023. Dozens of bylaws have to be adopted in 2023 to ensure implementation of the reforms. One of the key discussion topics is criteria and procedure for selection and evaluation of judges as instruments that ensure independence of judiciary. The selection and evaluation of judges are raising discussions in all countries that are in the process of the judicial reforms. The EU accession process is the main driver of judicial reforms across Western Balkan countries. In order to fulfil EU requirements, the Western Balkan countries are putting efforts to align the judiciary with the EU standards on independence. The article provides the brief comparative analysis on the criteria for the recruitment and evaluation of judges. The analysis consists of best practices of selected jurisdictions for the recruitment and evaluation of judges, with the focus on the competences judges need to have, criteria to apply for judicial office, weighting of different factors for selection/evaluation, including the mandatory nature of the decision of the selection committee. The article put special focus on EU member states and EU candidate countries with the aim to ensure a combination of different practices and factors. Selected countries are grouped in three categories: old EU member states, EU-11** and the EU candidate countries. Lessons learned from comparative examples and from previous Serbian experience could provide useful input for decision makers in the process of judicial reforms to establish legislative framework that ensures independence of judiciary.
Keywords: selection, evaluation, criteria, independence of judiciary, European standards.
Bulmer, E. 2017. Judicial Appointments. Stockholm: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
Castillo-Ortiz, P. 2019. The Politics of Implementation of the Judicial Council Model in Europe. European Political Science Review, 11(4), pp. 503-520. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1755773919000298
Guarnieri, C. 2018. Appointment and Career of Judges in Continental Europe: The Rise of Judicial Self-government. Legal Studies, 24(1-2), pp. 169-187. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-121X.2004.tb00246.x
Frederico, G. 2005. Recruitment, Professional Evaluation and Career of Judges and Prosecutors in Europe: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain. Bologna: Instituto di Ricerca Sui Sistemi Giudiziari Consiglio Nazionale Delle Richerche.
Fabri, M. 2015. Regulating Judges in Italy. Bologna: Research Institute on Judicial Systems. Available at: https://www.ippapublicpolicy.org/file/paper/1432887610.pdf (29. 9. 2023).
Karlsson, H. L. 2022. The Emergence of the Established “By Law” Criterion for Reviewing European Judicial Appointments. German Law Journal, 23, pp. 1051-1070. https://doi.org/10.1017/glj.2022.71
Malleson, K. 2006. Rethinking the Merit Principle in Judicial Selection. Journal of Law and Society, 33(1), pp. 126-140. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2006.00351.x
Malleson, K. & Russell, P. 2006. Appointing Judges in an Age of Judicial Power. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. https://doi.org/10.3138/9781442670921
Matić Bošković, M. 2020. Role of Court of Justice of the European Union in Establishment of EU Standards on Independence of Judiciary. EU and Comparative Law Issues and Challenges, 4, pp. 330-351. https://doi.org/10.25234/eclic/11907
Matić Bošković, M. & Nenadić, S. 2018. Evropski standardi u oblasti pravosuđa. Strani pravni život, 62(1), pp. 39-56. https://doi.org/10.5937/spz1801039B
McIntyre, J. 2014. Evaluating Judicial Performance Evaluation: A Conceptual Analysis. Onati Socio-legal Series, 4(5), pp. 898-926.
Resnik, J. 2004. Judicial Selection and Democratic Theory: Demand, Supply, and Life Tenure. Cardozo Law Review, 26(3), p. 579-654.
Riedel, J. 2014. Individual Evaluation of Judges in Germany. Onati Socio-legal Series, 4(5), pp. 980-999.
Spač, S. 2018. Recruiting European Judges in the Age of Judicial Self-Government. German Law Journal, 19(7), pp. 2077-2014. https://doi.org/10.1017/S2071832200023336
Spigelman, J. 2006. Measuring Court Performance. Journal of Judicial Administration, 16(2), pp. 69-80.
Volcansek, M. L. 2007. Appointing Judges the European Way. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 34(1), pp. 363-385.
Van Zyl Smit, J. 2015. The Appointment, Tenure and Removal of Judges under Commonwealth Principles: A Compendium and Analysis of Best Practices. London: The British Institute of International and Comparative Law.
Legal sources and case-law
Astradsson v Iceland, application no. 26374/18.
Bangalore principles of judicial conduct adopted in 2002.
Cf. Bundesverwaltungsgericht, judgments of December 19, 2002 – BVerwG 2 C 31/01 – and of February 27, 2003 – BVerwG 2 C 16/02 -. Oberverwaltungsgericht Luneburg, Decision of June 5, 2003, – 2 ME 123/03 -; Oberverwaltungsgericht Berlin, Decision of January 15, 2004, – 4 S 77.03 -.
Constitution of Republic of Greece. Available at: https://www.hellenicparliament.gr/User-Files/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf (29. 9. 2023).
Consultative Council of European Judges, Compilation of replies to the Questionnaire for the preparation of the CCJE Opinion No. 17 (2014) on justice, evaluation and independence. Available at: https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=0900001680640ffr (29. 9. 2023).
Courts act of Estonia. Available at: https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/502032022003/consolide (29. 9. 2023).
Criteria for evaluation of work of judges in Bosnia and Herzegovina, No. 06-08-1-40142/2022. Available at: https://portalfo1.pravosudje.ba/vstvfo-api/vijest/download/98435 (29. 9. 2023).
European Charter on the statute for judges and Explanatory Memorandum, Council of Europe, 1998.
European Commission, Serbia 2021 Report, SWD(2021) 288 final
Joined Cases 585, 624, 625/18, A.K. v. Najwyzszy, ECLI:EU:C:2019:982
Law on judicial service, Official Gazette, no. 13.4.1994 & 13.3.2015.
Law on Judges, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia no. 10/2023;
Law on High Judicial Council, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia no. 10/2023;
Law on organization of courts, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia no. 10/2023.
Law on the status of judges and prosecutors. Available at: https://www.euralius.eu/index.php/en/library/albanian-legislation?task=download.send&id=198&catid=86&m=0 (29. 9. 2023).
Law on State Judicial Council, Narodne novine no. 116/2019, 75/2011, 130/2011, 13/2013, 28/2013, 82/2015, 67/2018, 126/2019, 80/2022, 16/2023.
Legislative Decree 160 of 2006. Available at: https://www.csm.it/documents/21768/112811/Decreto+legislativo+5+aprile+2006+n.+160/590b9611-b703-4a78-8eec-340467b9185c (29. 9. 2023).
Measurements for the selection of candidates for the post of judge, Official Gazette no. 64/17.
Poslovnik Visokog sudskog i tužilačkog vijeća Bosne i Hercegovine. Available at: https://vsts.pravosudje.ba/vstvfo/B/141/kategorije-vijesti/1172/1180/4570 (29. 9. 2023).
Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)12 adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 17 November 2010, Judges: independence, efficiency and responsibilities.
Rules on evaluation of candidates in the process of appointment of judges in first instance, regional and high courts, State Judicial Council, No. OU-114/22.
Treaty of European Union.
UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, adopted by the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held at Milan from 26 August to 6 September 1985 and endorsed by General Assembly resolutions 40/32 of 29 November 1985 and 40/146 of 13 December 1985.
Ustav Republike Srbije, Službeni glasnik RS no. 98/2006-3, 115/2021-3 (Amandm- ani I-XXIX), 16/2022-3. Available at: http://www.pravno-informacioni-sistem.rs/SlGlasnikPortal/eli/rep/sgrs/skupstina/ustav/2006/98/1/reg (29. 9. 2023).
Venice Commission, CDL-AD(2018)028, Malta – Opinion on Constitutional arrangements and separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary and law enforcement.
Venice Commission, CDL-AD(2021)043, Cyprus – Opinion on Three Bills Reforming the Judiciary.
Venice Commission, CDL-AD(2018)028, Malta.
Venice Commission, CDL-AD(2010)004, Report on the Independence of the Judicial System Part I.
Expert Report on Rule of Law issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brussels, 5 December 2019, para 72. Available at: http://europa.ba/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/ExpertReportonRuleofLawissuesinBosniaandHerzegovina.pdf (29. 9. 2023).
GRECO RC4(2020)17 Fourth Evaluation Round – Second Compliance Report, Cyprus, para 55. Available at: https://rm.coe.int/fourth-evaluation-round-corruption-prevention-in-respect-of-members-of/1680a06389 (29. 9. 2023).
International Association of Judges (2006). 1st Study Commission, How can the appointment and assessment (qualitative and quantitative) of judges be made consistent with the principle of juridical independence. Available at https://www.iaj-uim.org/iuw/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/I-SC-2006-conclusions-E.pdf (29. 9. 2023).
Venice Commission, Opinion No. 405/2006, Opinion on the Constitution of Serbia, 19 March 2007, para. 60.
Bangalore principles of judicial conduct adopted in 2002.