Supervision of courts of law and prosecutors

Supervision of courts of law

The independence of courts and the right to process one’s case in an independent court are fundamental principles of a state governed by the rule of law.

Due to the independence of the courts, the supervision of courts of law mainly focuses on court proceedings and practices, such as the promptness of proceedings or the conduct of a judge.

The supervision of court decisions may only concern manifestly inadequate grounds, obvious excess of discretionary power or some other obvious unlawfulness of the decision, such as deviating from the form of punishment provided in law or sentencing for an offence where the statute of limitations has expired. The Chancellor of Justice does not interfere in the interpretation of law a court makes within the limits of its discretionary power or carry out a new review of evidence.

The Chancellor of Justice does not investigate matters that are still pending before a court or that can still be appealed. The Chancellor of Justice does not have the right to change a court ruling or order a re-trial.

The Chancellor of Justice supervises the activities of courts mainly by the same means as other official activities. The following means are used to supervise the legality of courts:

  • processing complaints
  • inspections
  • Chancellor’s initiatives
  • processing notifications made by authorities
  • review of penalty judgments.

Possible consequences correspond to the consequences applied to the supervision of the activities of other public authorities. Only the Chancellor of Justice and the Parliamentary Ombudsman have the power to prosecute a judge for an offence in office.

Supervision of prosecutors

The supervision of courts of law and prosecutors has many similarities. It is typical that the conduct of both the court and the prosecutor are criticised in the same complaint. In addition to complaints, the appropriateness of the practice of a prosecutor is often investigated at the Chancellor’s initiative in connection with the review of penalty judgments or investigation of suspected offence in office by a judge.

In cases concerning an offence in office committed by a prosecutor, the Chancellor of Justice or the Parliamentary Ombudsman or a prosecutor appointed by them will primarily prosecute the matter. The Chancellor of Justice and the Parliamentary Ombudsman have agreed that any police reports concerning suspected offences in office by prosecutors will be forwarded to the Chancellor of Justice.

Prosecutors' activities are mainly supervised by the same means as other official activities:

  • processing complaints
  • inspections
  • Chancellor’s initiatives
  • processing notifications made by authorities.

Possible consequences correspond to the consequences applied to the supervision of the activities of authorities. The Chancellor of Justice can investigate the legality of a prosecutor's actions, but cannot conduct a new prosecution. A complaint on a prosecutor’s actions may also be submitted to the Prosecutor General who may, as the supreme prosecutor, take over a case from a lower prosecutor for reconsideration.