Statutory duties and responsibilities

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Financial-economic policy

The Council for the Judiciary plays a key role in financing the Judiciary, being responsible for the annual budgets and annual reports of the Judiciary as a whole. The Council prepares solid annual plans to ensure that the Judiciary receives sufficient financial resources to be able to perform its work effectively.

Additionally, it is also responsible for distributing funds among the courts. This financing is based on an output-based financing system. For more information about this unique financing system, please consult the brochure The Financing System of the Netherlands Judiciary (pdf, 3.2 MB).

 

 

Management

Management includes areas such as personnel (HR) policy, IT and the use of new information technologies, buildings/accommodation, procurement and tenders, communications, and personnel and organisation. In each of these areas, the court boards are responsible for their own organisation, while the Council’s responsibility is to set parameters, support the courts with specialised expertise, promote cooperation between the courts, and initiate national projects and policies. Examples of this national policy include the recruitment and selection of new judges; judges’ training programmes; and the digitisation of the Judiciary. The National Service Centre for the Judiciary, established in 2011, was structured in a series of stages in 2012 and is currently operational. A newly implemented financial information system (Leonardo) supports the centralisation of the management processes.

 

Quality

The Council for the Judiciary is dedicated to promoting the quality of the judiciary in the Netherlands. Since one of the main principles of the legal system is that judges must be impartial and independent, the Council does not have any binding authority when it comes to quality. Instead, the quality of the judiciary has traditionally been protected by the system of appeal and further appeal, so the type of quality discussed here is that of the judgments rendered and the quality of legal proceedings. Quality currently also extends to other aspects of the workings of the legal system and quality aspects of the organisation, including, for example, how the courts treat the parties, and the duration of proceedings.

 

RechtspraaQ

Implemented in 2002, the quality system RechtspraaQ (pdf, 582.8 KB) is used by Dutch courts to protect these quality aspects. The system is designed to ensure that the Judiciary systematically works on continually improving quality. Apart from a constant focus on areas such as lead times, treatment by the courts and organisational quality, in the coming years the focus will certainly also be on the quality of the Judiciary itself. Key priorities include the development of expertise, promoting uniformity of law and improving information on reasoning behind judgments.

For example, in the coming years, the courts will be focusing more on motivation of court decisions and judgements, handling full-court cases, reviewing/monitoring single-chamber cases, as well as devoting time to instruction and fact finding. A number of standards have been established to ensure a greater focus on quality; these standards are directly relevant to effective adjudication. One of these standards provides that all judges and legal employees must each devote 30 hours a year to permanent education. At least three of these hours should be devoted to improving the knowledge of European law. The courts also employ a variety of methods – including visitation and client satisfaction surveys – in order to monitor quality development.

 

 

Visitation assessment

In 2010, a review committee inspected the status of quality care within the Judiciary. The main conclusion from the committee’s report was that overall, the review committee had a positive impression of quality care and its development within the courts, also in comparison to other professional organisations. The review committee’s conclusions and recommendations have been incorporated into the Agenda for the Judiciary 2011-2014, and a new series of inspections is scheduled for 2013.

 

 

Integrity

The law does not provide a definition of the term ‘integrity’, and indeed integrity extends far beyond compliance with statutory rules and regulations, with professional honour and a sense of responsibility also being vital aspects. Common sense is another essential factor, where ‘common’ refers to our common opinion. The Judiciary will be focusing more on integrity in the future, as set out in the Agenda for 2011-2014. The existing rules will be analysed, clarified, updated and interconnected. This has resulted in a partnership with the judges’ support organisation Rechters voor Rechters (‘Judges for Judges’), and the publication of the Matters of Principle guide (pdf, 820.7 KB), which sets out the various codes of conduct relating to the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary.

 

 

Advice on legislation

One of the Council for the Judiciary’s main duties is providing advice on bills and policy proposals that affect the judiciary. This may involve proposals that have a direct impact on the organisation of the Judiciary, as well as on the introduction or amendment of (new) legal proceedings. Examples include the introduction of administrative fines, an extension of custody time, and the implementation of minimum sentences. The Council’s recommendations are ratified following consultation with the courts. The Council can provide advice both on request and on a non-solicited basis. Most of its recommendations relate to bills drafted by the government. The Council’s advisory duties also cover EU proposals such as Green Papers, (legislation for the implementation of) regulations and directives and policy proposals (including policy parameters and vision documents).