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The Appointment, Tenure and Removal of Judges under Commonwealth Principles: A Compendium and Analysis of Best Practice

Dr Jan van Zyl Smit

July 2015 

An independent, impartial and competent judiciary is essential to the Rule of Law. This study considers the legal frameworks used to achieve this and examines trends in the 53 member states of the Commonwealth. It asks:

  • who should appoint judges and by what process?
  • what should be the duration of judicial tenure and how should judges' remuneration be determined?
  • what grounds justify the removal of a judge and who should carry out the necessary investigation and inquiries?

The study notes the increasing use of independent judicial appointment commissions; the preference for permanent rather than fixed-term judicial appointments; the fuller articulation of procedural safeguards necessary to inquiries into judicial misconduct; and many other developments with implications for strengthening the Rule of Law. These findings form the basis for recommendations on best practice in giving effect to the Commonwealth Latimer House Principles (2003), the leading Commonwealth statement on the responsibilities and interactions of the three main branches of government.

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