Northern Ireland Response
Draft recommendation of the Council of Europe on the independence, efficiency and responsibilities of judges
1. About Chapter I General aspects : scope of the recommendation,
judicial independence and the level at which it should be safeguarded.
Chapter II External independence : with government, parliament, medias and civil society.
Chapter III Internal independence : hierarchy, internal organization,
distribution of cases, professional organizations.
Chapter IV Councils for the judiciary.
Chapter V Independence, efficiency and resources : resources, alternative dispute resolution, court administration, assessment, international dimension.
Chapter VI Status of judges : selection and career, tenure, remuneration, training, assessment.
Chapter VII Duties and responsibilities : duties, liability
and disciplinary proceedings.
Chapter VIII Ethics of judges
In most common law countries, the principle of the independence of the judiciary is of well established pedigree and longevity. In both Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, due to recent legislative reform, this principle is also specifically protected by statutory guarantee. See Section 1, Justice ( Northern Ireland ) Act 2002 and Sections 1 and 3, Constitutional Reform Act 2005.
All aspects of the Council of Europe Draft Recommendation are of equal importance to the Northern Ireland judiciary. On a daily basis, senior judges in this jurisdiction debate and express concerns about any erosion of judicial independence ; the resources required for proper court organisation and administration ; representing the views of the judiciary ; ethical standards ; accountability of the judiciary (i.e. disciplinary and other measures) ; and, of particular significance at present, the protection of judicial pensions under statute.