The High Council of Justice completely eliminated the role of the international experts in the Selection Commission to the HQCJ

On 10 December the High Council of Justice (HCJ) adopted a Regulation on the competition for the positions at the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ).

The DEJURE Foundation experts have analyzed the draft Regulation and concluded that the Regulation reduces to nothing the role of foreign experts in the selection of new HQCJ members.

According to the law, the new composition of the HQCJ should be selected by a Selection Commission, consisting of 3 representatives of the Council of Judges and 3 international experts. It is this commission that should select 12 HQCJ members.

The Regulation negates this role of the Selection Commission. Contrary to the requirements of Law No. 193-IX, the HCJ wants to independently:

  1. Establish additional, non-statutory requirements for the Selection Commission members, namely five years of experience for international experts and members of the Council of Judges;
  2. Oblige the Selection Commission to get its Ruled of Procedure approved by the HCJ;
  3. Establish the procedure for determining the professional experience, knowledge and qualities of candidates (list of criteria for screening candidates, assessment scale, requirements for ranking);
  4. Give preference in the competition to candidates who are judges and among judges to give preference to candidates with more judicial experience;
  5. Make final decisions whether to appoint candidates selected by the Selection Commission.
The law clearly specifies that the role of the HCJ in the competition to the HQCJ is limited solely to the establishment of the Selection Commission from among the proposed candidates, the determination of procedure for holding the competition (i.e. its stages) and the appointment of HQCJ members selected by the Selection Commission.

According to the law, the Selection Commission is to nominate one candidate for each vacant position, that is, 12 candidates, in accordance with the statutory number of the HQCJ members.

The Selection Commission must independently determine the professional experience, knowledge and qualities of the candidates and select the winners. According to the law, this authority is within the competence of the Selection Commission members and may not be delegated to other persons. To this end, the commission must determine independently which tools it should use – in particular, whether to use the system of points in the assessment of candidates, which system should be used and how, in particular, whether to apply a cut-off score, or to assess knowledge at testing or in the course interviews.

Under the procedure adopted by the HCJ, some candidates who meet the requirements to become the HQCJ members established by law will leave the competition before any evaluation by the Selection Commission. This means that the competition will not take place in the manner prescribed by law.

If the competition is held under the Regulation proposed by the HCJ, the Selection Commission and the international experts that are part of it will only be used to legitimize the pseudo-competition that the HCJ will hold. The members of the latter have sufficient experience in appointing dependent and unscrupulous candidates to the judiciary. Apparently, this time the HCJ members decided to go down this path again.

The HQCJ competition regulation should govern the below:
  • Procedure for submitting candidates to the Selection Commission;
  • Deadlines for holding the competition;
  • Providing that the HCJ Secretariat supports the operation of the Selection Commission.
The competition is held in the manner prescribed by law, without the HCJ taking over the authority of the Selection Commission established with the participation of international experts, and without interfering with their activities.