As part of it Co-operation programme to strengthen the rule of law, the Council of Europe helped to organise the International Colloquy on the theme “The recruitment and training of judges in Europe”. This Colloquy was organised on the initiative of the High Council of Justice of Portugal and took place in Evora (Portugal) on 9 and 10 April 2003.
The Colloquy was aimed at fuelling the debate on the reform of the training system for judges and public prosecutors in Portugal by exchanging experiences of existing practices in Europe, the correlations between the training and recruitment of judges, and the role of High Councils of Justice in recruiting and training judges. One of the Colloquy’s other aims had been to broaden the debate in the CCJE-GT on appropriate judicial training in Europe.
The Portuguese speakers stressed that the creation of the CCJE in the Council of Europe had been a boon to the independence, impartiality and competence of judges throughout the continent, thereby also helping to reinforce human rights protection. They also noted the importance of the Council of Europe’s work and of the present Colloquy for the future of the reforms which Portugal was envisaging in the field of training for members of the judiciary.
The Colloquy stressed the importance of the choice of mode of recruitment for judges and of the corresponding training systems for the independence of the judiciary and the exercise of justice in accordance with the requirements of modern society and the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. At the same time he emphasised the great complexity of this issue, because such choices depended on several factors, eg the organisation of the State and the definition of the judiciary.
It was stressed that in any State governed by the rule of law it was vital for citizens to have an effective right to judges capable of freely assessing the cases submitted to them, with demonstrable competence. These qualities depended on the selection, recruitment and subsequent training systems implemented by the States. The participants considered that there should be a solid link between the selection and recruitment of judges on the one hand, and their initial training on the other.
This right to a competent, impartial and independent judge could only be effective in the guaranteed absence of political influence over the exercise of judicial functions. This made it necessary, in the participants’ view, to entrust the management of judicial careers, right from the selection stage, to an independent body as defined in the European Charter on the Statute for Judges. The Charter, together with CCJE Opinion No. 1 (2001) on standards concerning the independence of the judiciary and the irremoveablity of judges, constituted a reference for States in this area.
While all the participating countries aspired to a competent system of justice, the means of achieving it varied greatly. Some States were considering reforming the training system: Belgium, for instance, was planning to establish a judicial school, while Portugal was proposing to split up the training system for judges and public prosecutors, who had hitherto been trained by the same institution. It was stressed here that joint training, at least for part of the course, for judges and public prosecutors was very useful, given that both professions operated within the same kinds of judicial proceedings. It was noted that the Lisbon network adhered strictly to this line, with teaching staff responsible for training both judges and public prosecutors.
It was stressed that the specific functions of the judicial profession were reflected in very specific challenges to the relevant training system. Such training could provide judges and public prosecutors with the necessary tools for enforcing the law, reasoning decisions and managing relations with the parties to the process and with the public. The training should therefore be pluralist in order to enable judges to manage the cases submitted to them independently, impartially, open-mindedly and with sound knowledge of societal problems.
During the discussions, the participants addressed a number of desiderata to the Council of Europe. In particular they asked it to:
- popularise its rules on the recruitment and training of judges;
- help to forge links among the websites of judicial training schools/centres in Europe;
- establish and disseminate the interpretation of the concept of independent body as set out in Article 1.3 of the European Charter on the Statute for Judges;
- consider the possibility of introducing judicial training at the European level;
- consider the possibility of setting up a network for exchange of experience among Presidents of Courts of Appeal in Europe.
PROGRAMME OF THE COLLOQUY
Wednesday, 9 April 2003
09h30 Registration of participants
10.00 Opening session
Presidential Table :
President of the Supreme Court of Justice and of the High Council of Justice of Portugal – Mr Jorge Alberto Aragão Seia
Minister of Justice – Mrs Maria Celeste Cardona
General Public Prosecutor of the Republic – M. José Souto de Moura
Representative of the Council of Europe – Mrs Danuta Wiśnieswska-Cazals
Representative of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) – Sir Jonathan Mance
Mayor of Evora – Mr José Ernesto Oliveira
Opening addresses by:
Representatives of the Council of Europe / CCJE
The Minister of Justice
The President of the Supreme Court of Justice and the High Judicial Council of Portugal
11.00 Coffee break
11.15 1st session: Models of the recruitment of judges in Europe – a critical analysis of the current situation
Moderator: Mr Mário Mendes, Judge at the Court of Appeal of Lisbon and Director of the Centre for Judicial Studies of Portugal
Mr Luís Miguel Azevedo Mendes, Judge and member of the High Council of Justice (Portugal)
Mr Raffaele Sabato, Judge, member of the CCJE (Italy)
Mr Virgilijus Valančius, President of the Supreme Administrative Court, member of the CCJE (Lithuania)
12.45 Working lunch
14.30 2nd session: The implications of initial, specialised and in-service training of judges in Europe
Moderator: Sir Jonathan Mance, Chairman of the CCJE
Ms Maria Assunção Pinhal Raimundo, Judge, Deputy Director of the Centre for Judicial Studies (Portugal)
Mr Denis Salas, Senior Lecturer at the Ecole Nationale de la Magistrature (France)
Mr Otto Mallmann, Judge, member of the CCJE (Germany)
Ms Maria Teresa Romer, President of the Association of Judges Iustitia (Poland)
16.45 Coffee break
18.00 End of the working session
20.00 Diner offered by the High Council of Justice
Thursday, 10 April 2003
9h00 3rd session: The role of a High Council of Justice in Europe for the recruitment and the training of judges
Moderator: Mr Alain Lacabarats, Chairman of the CCJE-GT
Mr Orlando Afonso, Judge at the Court of Appeal of Evora, member of the CCJE (Portugal)
Mr Miguel Carmona, Judge at the Audiencia Provincial of Seville (Spain)
Ms Judit Csiszár, Deputy Head of Department of the National Council of Justice (Hungary)
11.00 Coffee break
11.15 Debates continue
12.30 Working lunch
15.30 4th session: What judge for Europe? (a summary report)
Moderator: Mr Jorge Santos, Judge at the Court of Appeal of Lisbon and member of the High Council of Justice
Mrs Rosa Jansen, Judge, Netherlands
Presentation of the conclusions : Mr António Neves Ribeiro, Judge at the Supreme Court of Justice of Portugal
16.30 Closing session
Mr Luis António Noronha Nascimento, Judge at the Supreme Court of Justice, Vice-President of the High Council of Justice of Portugal
Mrs Danuta Wiśniewska-Cazals, Representative of the Council of Europe
Mr Alain Lacabarats, Representative of the CCJE
Mr. Armindo Ribeiro Luís, Judge, President of the Court of Appeal of Evora
Mr Luís Capoulas Santos, Governador Civil, Evora
Closing addresses :
President of the Court of Appeal of Evora
Representatives of the Council of Europe and of the CCJE
Vice-President of the High Council of Justice of Portugal
17.30 End of meeting