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Analysis of the Concept Of Judicial Independence

Shimon Shetreet and Jules Deschenes,
Judicial Independence: The Contemporary Debate
(1985 Martinus Nijhoff).

The judiciary has developed from a dispute-resolution mechanism, to a significant social institution with an important constitutional role which participates along with other institutions in shaping the life of its community. Social, political and economic changes, in recent times, in most countries, have confronted the courts and judges with new challenges and new problems.The centralization of the responsibility and supervision of court administration and judicial administration has raised the issue of the relationship between the judiciary and the executive, and made it necessary to examine and delineate the boundaries of the scope of executive control on judges, courts and judicial administration, and court financing. It was also necessary to review the rules, traditions, and practices governing the conduct of judges off the bench, in the various areas of activities.A modern conception of judicial independence cannot be confined to the individual judge and to his substantive and personal independence, but must include collective independence of the judiciary as a whole. The concept of collective judicial independence may require a greater measure of judicial participation in the central administration of the courts including the preparation of budgets for the courts, and depending on one's view of the nature of judicial independence, the extent of judicial participation may range from consultation, joint responsibility with the executive, or exclusive judicial responsibility (Ch. 33).


Shimon Shetreet and Christopher Forsyth (Eds.),
The Culture of Judicial Independence: Conceptual Foundations and Practical Challenges


The creation of a culture of Judicial Independence is of a central significance both in national domestic legal systems, as well as for the international courts and tribunals. The main aim of this volume is to analyze the development of a culture of Judicial Independence in comparative perspectives, to offer an examination of the conceptual foundations of the principle of judicial independence and to discuss in detail the practical challenges facing judiciaries in different jurisdictions. The proposed volume is based on the papers presented at the five conferences held in the framework of The International Project on Judicial independence. The editors of this volume and the contributors to it are leading scholars and distinguished experts on judicial independence and judiciaries.


Chapter 1: General Intoduction


Chapter 2: Creating a Culture of Judicial Independence: The Practical Challenge and the Conceptual and Constitutional Infrastructure 

Professor Shimon Shetreet

​Chapter 3: The Failure of Institutions: The South African Judicial Service Commission and the Hlophe Saga
Professor Christopher Forsyth

Chapter 4: Independence of the Judiciary: The European Perspective

Professor Marcel Storme

Chapter 14: The Impact of the ECHR Jurisprudence on the Austrian Practice in the Field of Judicial Independence

Prof. Dr. H.C. Walter Rechberger

Shimon Shetreet (Ed.),
The Culture of Judicial Independence: The Rule of Law and World Peace (2014 Martinus Nijhoff).

The Culture of Judicial Independence: Rule of Law and World Peace, is the third book by Shimon Shetreet on Judicial Independence. The first was Judicial Independence: The Contemporary Debate (edited by Shimon Shetreet and Jules Deschênes , Nijhoff,1985). The second was The Culture of Judicial Independence: Conceptual Foundations and Practical Challenges (Edited by Shimon Shetreet and Christopher Forsyth, Nijhoff, 2012).This volume contains essays by senior academics, judges and practitioners across jurisdictions offering an analysis of several central issues relative to the culture of Judicial Independence. These include judicial review, human rights, democracy, the rule of law and world peace, constitutional position of top courts, relations between the judiciary and the other branches of government, impartiality and fairness of the judicial process, judicial ethics, dispute resolution in arbitral awards and international investments, international courts and cross country issues, judicial selection. The volume also offers an update report on the International Project of Judicial Independence of the International Association of Judicial Independence and World Peace, including the relations of top courts and international courts, administrative judges, culture of judicial independence and public inquiries by judges.


Judges on Trial: The Independence and Accountability of the English Judiciary (2nd Edition)


AUTHORS: Shimon Shetreet, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Sophie Turenne, University of Cambridge.


The second edition of Judges on Trial articulates the rules, assumptions and practices which shape the culture of independence of the English judiciary today. Enhanced by interviews with English judges, legal scholars and professionals, it also outlines the factors that shape the modern meaning of judicial independence. The book discusses the contemporary issues of judicial governance, judicial appointments, the standards of conduct on and off the bench, the discipline and liability of judges and the relationship between judges and the media. It is accessible to an international audience of lawyers, political scientists and judges beyond the national realm.

Outline of the New Delhi Standards

A) Personal and Substantive Independence

The New Delhi standards are based on the conception that the independence of the judiciary carries two meanings: the independence of the individual judges, and the independence of the judiciary as a body. The independence of the individual judge is comprised of two essential elements; the substantive independence and the personal independence. Substantive independence means that in the making of judicial decision and exercising other official duties, individual judges are subject to no other authority but the law.

Personal independence means that the judicial terms of office and tenure are adequately secured. Personal independence is secured by judicial appointment during good behaviour terminated at retirement age, and by safeguarding judicial remuneration. Thus, executive control over terms of service of the judges, such as remuneration, pensions, or travel allowances, is inconsistent with the concept of judicial independence. Still much less acceptable is any executive control over case assignment, court scheduling, or moving judges from one court to another or from one locality to another.2

B) Judicial Conduct
Independence of the judiciary implies not only that a judge should be free from executive or legislative encroachment and from political pressures and entanglements, but also that he should be removed from financial or business entanglement likely to affect, or rather to seem to affect, him in the exercise of his judicial functions. The duties of the judge as to the standards of his conduct are detailed in Standards 36-45.3 The Standards are aimed at removing judges from political and business entanglements and from controversies or improprieties. As to judges and the Press, New Delhi Standards 33-35 allow for interviews to the Press, subject to the duty to preserve judicial dignity.


C) Collective Independence

A modern conception of judicial independence cannot be confined to the individual judge and to his substantive and personal independence, but must include collective independence of the judiciary as a whole.4 The concept of collective judicial independence requires a greater measure of judicial participation in the central administration of the courts, including the preparation of budgets for the courts. New Delhi Standard 9 calls for exclusive judicial responsibility for judicial administration on the central level, or at least joint responsibility with the Executive. The Montreal Declaration provides that the main responsibility for court administration shall vest in the judiciary.5

The conception of personal independence and substantive independence of the individual judges is universally recognized by law and by legal writers. However, the concept of collective independence of the judiciary which this writer has advocated in recent years6 is not yet well established.

The significance of the New Delhi Standards, and following them, the Montreal Declaration, was the recognition of the concept of collective independence of the judiciary, which calls for greater administrative independence of the judiciary in matters of central court administration including the participation in the formulation of the courts' budgets.7 One of the important achievements of the New Delhi Standards and the Montreal Declaration was the emphasis on this most significant conceptual aspect of the principle of judicial independence in modern society.

D) Internal Independence
Another aspect of judicial independence which has not attracted sufficient attention is the internal independence of the judiciary. That is the independence of a judge from his judicial superiors and colleagues. This also transcends both the substantive and personal independence of the judge vis-a-vis his colleagues and superiors. New Delhi Standard 46 stresses this point; and, in the commentary for this New Delhi Standard, we recommend that separate and dissenting opinions be permissible in order to encourage internal judicial independence.8 In this context it should be noted that New Delhi Standard 11 calls for a division of work among judges according to a pre¬determined plan, to be conducted by the head of the Court according to clearly defined rules. This Standard generally accepts the civil law concept of natural judge. (Gesetzlicher Richter).


E) Judges and the Executive
The protection of judicial terms of service from Executive interference is attained by the Standards in many ways. Executive participation in disciplinary procedures for judges is limited to referring or initiating complaints. The Executive is excluded from adjudication of such complaints. (Standard 4). The

New Delhi Standards call for judicial removal by a judicial tribunal or by the legislation upon a recommendation of a judicial tribunal.9

As to judicial appointments, New Delhi Standard 3 calls for appointment by a predominantly judicial body, but allows the continuation of judicial appointment by non-judicial bodies, in countries, where by long historic tradition, such a practice operates satisfactorily. 10
The New Delhi Standards exclude the Executive from involvement in judicial matters and matters concerning judges (Standard 5), and vest the judiciary with the responsibility for such ,matters (Standard 801 Thus the power to transfer a judge should be vested in a judicial authority (Standard 12),12 and the execution process is put under judicial supervision (Standard 7).13


The Standards call for security of judicial remuneration and provision of adequate judicial salaries by regular and timely pay increases (Standard 14).14 They prohibit a decrease of judicial salaries which is not part of an overall economic measure (Standard 15).15 One of the most pressing problems of the Court system in recent times is the limited resource. Standard 13 responds to this issue and imposes on the relevant government a duty, to adequately finance the Court Services.16

The Standards impose on ministers a duty to refrain from adverse statements on judges (Standard 16), and call for cautious exercise of the power of pardon (Standard 1707

Against the background of incidents of closing down courts, and frustrating of judicial decisions by Executive action, Standard 18 prohibits Executive preemption or frustration of judicial resolution of cases,18 and provides that the Executive shall not have the power to close down or suspend the operation of the court system at any level. 19

F) Security of Judicial Tenure
Probationary appointments are considered inconsistent with judicial independence, except for legal systems where judges are appointed without prior practical experience (Standard 23): Temporary appointments of judges are also rejected by the Standards, except where they exist by long historic, democratic tradition.20 Part time judges can only be appointed, subject to proper safeguards.
Detailed principles are set down in Standards 27-32 concerning the procedure and the grounds for judicial discipline and removal.21 The Standards call for a judicial procedure and a judicial tribunal for removal or discipline of judges. In cases of Legislative removal, the Standards call for a recommendation by a judicial tribunal.

G) The Legislature and Judges
The Standards recognise the problems emanating from adverse Legislative interference with judicial terms of office and judicial adjudication. Standard 19 prohibits retroactive legislative reversal of specific decisions.22 Standard 20 qualifies the application of legislation, changing terms of judicial office or abolishing courts to future holders of office,23 and not to present judges serving at the time of the passage of the legislation.24


H) Standards of Judicial Selection
Standard 26 provides that selection of judges should be based on merit. I call your attention to the commentary on this standard, where it is stated that the selection process of judges should take into account the fair representation on the bench of the various social classes, ethnic groups, geographical regions and ideological inclinations, so as to insure equality of access to judicial office, and a broad spectrum of community attitudes and feelings among the persons holding judicial office. This principle is expressly provided in the Montreal Declaration which requires that "the process and standards of judicial selection shall give due consideration to ensuring a fair reflection by the judiciary of the society in all its aspects" (Art. 2.13).


In conclusion, it is important to stress that the confirmation of the Jerusalem Approved Standards in New Delhi by the IBA Convention was a significant step in the improvement of the administration of justice and the better protection of human rights in our world today, and so was the confirmation of the Universal Declaration of the Independence of Justice.

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