New measures against judges relating to their legal status

The possibilities for imposing suitable disciplinary measures on judges in case of illegal behaviour or other undesired situations are extended. Moreover, new so-called mandatory and control measures will be introduced in order to fit in better with the needs in practice. This is clear from a bill by Minister Opstelten of Security and Justice, which was sent for advice to several bodies, such as the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Council for the Judiciary.

The minister believes that there is no reason to assume that there are any serious situations of abuse, but there should be enough options if action proves to be necessary. The current regulation is considered to be too limited. It is highly undesirable if no response is forthcoming for this reason. ‘Especially in view of the special position of the judiciary, being able to take adequate action is essential for the quality and integrity of the judicial system,’ says Mr Opstelten. ‘This also serves the confidence of citizens.’

Under the current regulation, the only disciplinary measures in case of illegal behaviour are a written warning and punitive dismissal. This will soon also include a suspension and one speaks of a written reprimand from now on. This reprimand cannot only be imposed by the court of law where the judicial officer has been placed, but also by the Supreme Court.
The existing mandatory and control measures are supplemented with transferring judges to another court of law, withholding their remuneration if no work is performed and putting judges on non-active status. In that case, the president of the court will request another court of law to temporarily suspend the person concerned. This is done through a simultaneous request to the procurator general for the Supreme Court in order to bring an action for suspension. This measure is desirable because it is sometimes not possible in urgent cases to await the suspension proceedings by the Supreme Court.

Furthermore, a candidate for a judicial function can only qualify for appointment if he or she has a recent certificate of good conduct. Authority and confidence form the pillars of the magistrate position of members of the judiciary. There should be no doubt about that, says Mr Opstelten.