The evaluation of judges’ performance takes place in many ways. Traditionally, there are avenues of appeal and legal accountability mechanisms. More recently, ministries of justice and judicial councils across Europe have introduced a range of complaints mechanisms, quality assessment procedures and other managerial methods of judging judges and the courts within which they operate. This paper reports on a study of these mechanisms in nine member countries of the European Union. Our purpose is to survey the possible ways in which the judiciary can be evaluated, with a view to improving those practices and, ultimately, contributing to a better functioning of the courts. The study focuses on judges within the institutional context of courts. The staffs of courts are commonly employed by a ministry of justice or some other executive body. A ministry is responsible for allocating funds and accounting to parliament for their expenditure. In many European countries (including six of the nine discussed here) the status of judges (discipline, promotion, transfer, appointment), and in Denmark and the Netherlands also the management of courts, is under the direct responsibility of a judicial council which has substantial judicial representation and a degree of independence from the executive government.
This article was originally published as Mohr, R and Contini, F, Judicial Evaluation in Context: Principles, Practices and Promise in Nine European Countries' European, Journal of Legal Studies, 1 (2), 2007. Original article available here.