CYPRUS: Grant Agreement Technical Assistance on the Creation of Objective Criteria for the Recruitment and Promotion of JudgesIn Cyprus there is an ongoing reform process with support measures from the European Commission’s Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS). Cyprus has requested support from the European Commission under Regulation (EU) 2017/825 on the establishment of the Structural Reform Support Programme ("SRSP Regulation").
The European Commission selected the Austrian Federal Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice in cooperation with the Center of Legal Competence (CLC) – Forschung & Consulting GmbH as reform partners to deliver the requested technical support to Cyprus with a project leader and two pre-selected and highly experienced international experts.
The present project started on 7th September 2018 and ended on 6th April 2019.
The overall objective of the action was to (a) bring Cyprus in line with the most European countries, most of which have already in place objective criteria for the recruitment and evaluation of Judges, to (b) enhance the independence and efficiency of judges, and to (c) establish meritocracy amongst the judiciary.
The specific objectives and respective components of the action were (a) to elaborate a report with recommendations on how to set objective criteria for the recruitment of new judges (component 1) and (b) to elaborate a report with recommendations on how to set objective criteria for the evaluation and promotion of judges (component 2); both based on the best practices in Europe and in other parts of the world.
Component 1: Elaboration of a report with recommendations on how to set up objective criteria for the recruitment of new Judges
Outcome. The report with recommendations on how to set objective criteria for the recruitment of new judges consists of a description of the current appointment procedure of new judges in Cyprus and perspectives from judiciaries across South Africa, England and Wales, the Netherlands, South Korea and Portugal. It concludes with a set of recommendations on how to make use of the international experience in regard of finding new objective criteria for the recruitment of new judges.
The recommendations focus on:
- the competencies needed by judges,
- the composition of the Selection and Appointment Council,
- the participation of judges of lower courts in the selection, and
- transparency and evaluation criteria.
Component 2: Elaboration of a report with recommendations on how to set objective criteria for the evaluation and promotion of Judges
Outcome. The report with recommendations on how to set objective criteria for the evaluation and the promotion of judges in Cyprus consists of a description of the current practice of promotion and its challenges in the country; it describes international standards and provides a comparative overview of promotion procedures across different legal systems: the United Kingdom, Ireland and Norway. Furthermore, examples from different legal systems with a career judiciary, where judges are appointed after they finish their legal education, are provided. Different practices in the Member States of the Council of Europe and European standards about how to evaluate are offered. Finally, the report discusses the role and procedure of promotions in the Cypriot legal system and the recommended criteria.
The recommendations focus on:
- the role of promotions,
- the composition of the Judicial Council,
- the promotion procedure,
- criteria to apply,
- the weighing of the different factors for the promotion and the voting system, and
- how the criteria should be assessed in the promotion of District Court judges and be weighed and assessed in the case of promotion to Administrative President and about the promotion to the Court of Appeal judges and Supreme Court.
As a summary, the project has been overall successful. In particular, it has achieved the objectives and has had a positive and perceptible influence on the reform process by achieving excellent results. The project’s deliverables shall enable Cyprus to choose from variant options of up-to-date functional solutions to create models for selection and promotion of judges by objective criteria. All of them are rule of law certified.