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Judicial Ethics - Principles, Values and Qualities

Society’s expectations of judges have caused the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary to reflect on the question of judicial ethics. It is concerned with striking a balance between the independence of justice [which is not a privilege], the transparency of institutions, the freedom of the press and the public’s right to information. It is also important to preserve judicial independence, free from any pressure or manipulation. This is so that the judge can maintain the impartiality and efficiency that the public expects of him.

Judicial ethics have been addressed in a positive manner, so that the duties of the judge encompass the common, founding values of the judge’s work, preventive principles and personal qualities, in response to the public’s expectations.

Independence, integrity, impartiality, reserve and discretion, diligence, respect and the ability to listen, equality of treatment, competence and transparency are the common values identified [as essential to the judicial role] (Part I). The judge also demonstrates personal qualities of wisdom, loyalty, a sense of humanity, courage, seriousness and prudence, an ability to work and an ability to listen and to communicate effectively. A judge is aware that his professional behaviour, his private life and his conduct in society have an influence on the image of justice and public confidence (Part II)