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Disciplinary Liability of a Judge for a Legal Error: A Threat to Judicial Independence?

  • Taras Pashuk
Chapter

Abstract

Disciplinary liability of a judge for a legal error lies within the sensitive area of interaction between two fundamental principles of the modern society: the principle of independent adjudication and the need for public confidence in the competent justice. It is suggested that judicial independence cannot be a shield for an incompetent judge, and the law should permit, rather on exceptional grounds, disciplinary interference with the adjudicating function, which may entail content-based analysis of judicial decisions. What are the conditions under which a judge should be disciplined for a legal error? In so far as actus reus of the disciplinary misconduct is concerned, it is useful to refer to the US objective reasonableness test. Furthermore, disciplinary proceedings against a judge should necessarily include investigation into the mental element of his/her conduct. Such analysis should permit to distinguish a good-faith legal error which cannot be subject to disciplining from a bad-faith legal error that deserves a disciplinary measure. There are further external factors relevant in determining whether or not the legal mistake should be treated as a disciplinary offence. Those factors include the issue of ambiguity of law, frequency of legal errors, and reversibility of legal errors.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Taras Pashuk
    • 1
  1. 1.European Court of Human RightsStrasbourgFrance

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