Independence of judges: judicial perceptions and formal safeguards
The European Network of Councils for the judiciary defined indicators and gathered data to assess the formal safeguards for independence of the judiciary in twenty European countries. It also conducted a survey among judges about their perception of judicial independence. Distinguishing between old and new democracies, statistical analysis of the data show a strong correlation between perceptions of judges and those of citizens for the old democracies and a weaker but still sizeable correlation for the new democracies. Regression analyses for the two groups of countries reveal that in the old democracies the improper allocation of cases, altering working conditions due to changes in pay, pensions and retirement age and (the threat of) claims of personal liability are the three aspects that have the largest impact on perceived independence, while in the new democracies improper appointments, inappropriate pressure and media influence are most important. The connection between perceived independence and formal safeguards is weak. It is found, however, that the formal legal position of the judiciary is important in new democracies, while in old democracies the funding of the judiciary plays a role. Formal safeguards regarding case allocation have positive effects on perceived independence with both groups of countries.
Frans van Dijk, Frank van Tulder and Ymkje Lugten