Publication details

The Case for Judicial Councils as Fourth-Branch Institutions

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Year of publication 2024
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source European constitutional law review
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Law

Web Open access článku
Keywords Judicial councils; separation of powers; fourth-branch institutions; judicial independence; four ideal types of judicial councils; a judge-controlled
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Description Many European countries have transferred powers concerning judicial careers and court administration to judicial councils. These independent bodies were intended to depoliticise the judiciary, maintain a balance between judicial independence and accountability, and ideally increase the quality and efficiency of the judicial branch. Supranational organisations, judges, policymakers, lawyers and political scientists argue vehemently whether judicial councils delivered the goods they promised. Constitutional theorists lag behind. They either skipped the debate on where to place judicial councils within the separation of powers, assuming that they belonged to the judicial branch, or lament that judicial councils violate the classical tripartite separation of powers without addressing new advancement in the separation of powers scholarship. This article aims to fill this gap and theorises about the place and role of judicial councils in the separation of powers. It argues that all judicial councils gravitate towards one of four ideal types – judge-controlled, politician-controlled, inter-branch and fourth-branch – each placing the judicial council in a different position vis-a-vis the three classical branches. Based on the experience with judicial councils so far, we argue that conceptualising judicial councils as fourth-branch institutions provides the best protection against the two greatest dangers judicial councils face – corporativism and politicisation.
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