Judiciary

 

Judicial independence from the executive is achieved by the following means:

  • Judicial appointments are dealt with by the Judicial Appointments Commission, which is politically impartial.
  • Security of tenure is given to judges of the senior courts in its modern form under the Senior Courts Act 1981, and to justices of the Supreme Court under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Senior judges can be dismissed by the monarch only following a vote of both Houses of Parliament.
  • Judicial salaries are determined by the Senior Salaries Review Board, an independent body, and are paid from the Consolidated Fund, which does not require annual approval. This insulates the payment of judicial salaries from executive and parliamentary control.
  • Common law contempt of court and statutory contempt of court under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 ensure that there is no interference with the administration of justice by the courts.
  • Judges have wide immunity from claims in tort in respect of carrying out their judicial functions.
  • Under the 'sub-judice' rule Parliament does not discuss matters that are being heard or pending hearing by the courts.
  • By constitutional convention, members of the executive do not criticise judicial decisions and the judiciary do not engage in party political activity. This convention has not always been honoured.