Good judicial practice – a checklist on ethics for Swedish judges – with a correct link

The document Good judicial practice – principles and issues was produced as a checklist by a working-party under my chairmanship. It was distributed (in Swedish) to all judges in Sweden in 2012. Here is an English version of the document.

The document consists of questions for discussion rather than answers. So it is not a formal code of ethics (= a code of conduct for judges). It has no normative character. Instead of such a code there are some provisions in the Swedish Code of Procedure with certain legal obligations for all judges that are legal norms but also of an ethical nature. The provision on an oath is here the best example.

One of the purposes of the document is to provide judges with guidance when dealing with the ethical dilemmas and problems they encounter in their day-to-day work. A further aim is to use the document in a training context and contribute to personal reflection, ensuring that discussions between judges regarding good judicial practice are kept alive.

Apart from a number of general requirements that are presented regarding principles, this document does not contain any instructions on how a judge ought to act in specific situations. When faced with an ethical dilemma, it is seldom possible to find the answer in a rule. Instead, a position is adopted through a series of quite complex considerations. A list of questions could be a source of support for the judge when handling ethical problems and dilemmas. Another reason for listing questions is that views on what characterises a good ethical attitude could vary over time and from one generation to another. Consequently, this document mainly comprises questions rather than guidelines. 

The ultimate task of the courts is to maintain the due process of law. The courts and judges must guarantee that everyone can have their rights and obligations determined objectively and independently. It is vitally important from a number of perspectives that the general public have confidence in the judges and the courts and that the judges and the courts maintain their credibility. The judge’s attitude to various ethical issues is also a key factor from a confidence point of view. This document deals with good judicial practice. This naturally encompasses matters relating to judicial ethics but goes beyond that. In this presentation, issues are addressed regarding the role of the judge and the responsibility of the judge in a broad sense. Consequently, a number of issues that are closest to the application of law will also be examined.


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