The independence of the judiciary

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Khadijah Yasmin
The independence of the judiciary
Judicial independence- The principle that members of the judiciary should retain independence
from any influence by government or parties or other political members
How is independence of the judiciary maintained?
If they weren't independent there is a danger that the government will exceed its powers
without legal justification, this may lead to autocracy
Citizens need to feel certain that any legal cases which may be involved in justice and the rule
of law
An independent judiciary can prevent discrimination, citizens of a democratic state will their
rights will be protected
Judiciary may appear to be independent but in practice the judges are specially selected by
the govt. To ensure decisions that are friendly to that govt., therefore judges are selected in
a neutral basis to prevent conflict between judiciary and the govt.
There are 4 main aims:
1) Security of tenure- judges cannot be removed from office on the types of decisions they
make, the only way judges can be removed is if he can shown to be corrupt as a result of
personal conduct incompatible with being a judge. Judges are free to make decisions without
being scrutinised/offended by the government. As well as that their salaries cannot be
reduced due to their decisions.
2) Contempt of court- servant of government to attempt to interfere with the result of a court
case or even to comment on such a case public or in Parliament. Designed to prevent any
political pressure on judges, if government interfered it would be strongly criticised in
parliament could result in legal action against the government
3) The system of appointments- (reformed in 2005) Judges are appointed by a Judicial
Appointments Commission, politically independent. Judges in the Supreme Court and Appeal
Court are appointed by a special committee comprising senior members of those courts and
representatives from the Judicial Appointments Commissions in England, Scotland and NI.
Have little/no political influence over sensitive judicial appointments
4) Background of senior judges- senior judges enjoy lengthy as courtroom lawyers to ensure
these cases must be judged on the strict basis of law and not according to their personal
opinions. Under both Conservative and Labour administrations senior members of judgments
that have been clearly contrary to government interests. This is true basis of Implementation
of the Human Rights Act (2000), both main parties have criticised the judiciary on the grounds
that it is politically biased, This suggests there is little/no political basis among judges
How independence may be threatened
Government retains control of legal system through the Justice Ministry. This does not
constitute direct control, but suggests a good deal of interference
Over the years there has been an increasing tendency for politicians to enter into open
political dialogue with judges over such issues as sentencing policy and the protection of
rights. Does not imply to direct interference, which would lead to indirect pressure being
placed on the judiciary
Despite the appointment of senior judges is handled by an independent Judicial Appoints
Commission, the PM (advice from Lord Chancellor) has a final veto over such appointments
The neutrality of the judiciary

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Khadijah Yasmin
Judicial neutrality- The principle that members of the judiciary should avoid decision in cases. It also
implies that judges should not show any bias towards/or against any groups in society
The case for lack of neutrality
Judges come from a narrow social and professional background; the majority are from
middle/upper classes.…read more


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