At the institutional level, international standards make clear that it is the duty of the State to provide adequate resources to enable the judiciary to properly perform its functions. As a safeguard of judicial independence, the courts’ budget shall be prepared “in collaboration with the judiciary having regard to the needs and requirements of judicial administration”.
Furthermore, the remuneration and pensions of judges must be secured by law at an adequate level that is consistent with their status and is sufficient to safeguard against conflict of interest and corruption. The European Charter on the Statute of the Judge adds a guarantee for judges acting in a professional capacity against social risks linked with illness, maternity, invalidity, old age and death.
According to the Constitution, “Everyone shall be guaranteed judicial protection of his rights and freedoms” and “No one may be deprived of the right to the consideration of his or her case” by a competent court. The Constitution provides that the courts shall be financed from the federal budget, so as to “ensure full and independent administration of justice in accordance with federal law”.Despite this provision, however, for many years the judiciary was underfinanced and working conditions for judges were poor.
In a 2010 report on The State of the Judiciary in Russia, the ICJ noted that an insufficient number of courts and their accessibility to people within the country remained a problem, which was becoming more acute, as courts’ caseloads grow. High caseloads sometimes resulted in slow trials, or superficial consideration of cases.
The gradual and regular increase of judges’ salaries has been pointed out as a successful aspect of judicial reform in Russia. Significant resources were invested for this purpose: the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers noted a ten-fold increase of salaries. Although the Judicial Department remains in charge of financial, logistical and other measures “aimed at creation of conditions for full and independent administration of justice”, many of the increases of judges’ salaries resulted from Presidential Decrees, rather than a regular budget allocation. Instead of strengthening the independence of the judiciary, resort to and reliance on Presidential Decrees for salary adjustments for judges undermined the independence and appearance of independence of the judiciary, as it meant that ensuring the adequate remuneration of judges was dependant on the goodwill of the executive. In some cases, it has led to the perception that the executive had corrupted the judiciary.
Furthermore, while under the law the courts’ funding comes from the federal budget, in practice local authorities provide supplementary funding and benefits, including in particular housing for judges. The ICJ was informed during its 2010 mission that the allocation of these benefits to judges remains under the discretion of court presidents. The value of such benefits including healthcare access, end-of-year bonuses and other benefits received by a judge has sometimes exceeded his or her annual salary. The lack of uniformity of benefits among judges and the fact that there is no criteria for the exercise of the Court president’s decisions regarding allocation of benefits is a factor which raises concern about its impact on judicial independence. Justices of the Peace, who are not federal judges, are even more vulnerable: in practice, for them desired promotion and the attached benefits depend to a large extent on personal relationships. The fact that a judge’s salary and entitlement to benefits are at least in part dependent on the goodwill of the executive and the personal relationship with the court president undermines the appearance of independence of the judiciary, and potentially also weakens the judge’s independent and impartial decision-making.
- 1. UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, Principle 7;
It is the duty of each Member State to provide adequate resources to enable the judiciary to properly perform its functions.
32. The authorities responsible for the organisation and functioning of the judicial system are obliged to provide judges with conditions enabling them to fulfil their mission and should achieve efficiency while protecting and respecting judges’ independence and impartiality.
33. Each state should allocate adequate resources, facilities and equipment to the courts to enable them to function in accordance with the standards laid down in Article 6 of the Convention and to enable judges to work efficiently.
34. Judges should be provided with the information they require to enable them to take pertinent procedural decisions where such decisions have financial implications. The power of a judge to make a decision in a particular case should not be solely limited by a requirement to make the most efficient use of resources.
35. A sufficient number of judges and appropriately qualified support staff should be allocated to the courts.
36. To prevent and reduce excessive workload in the courts, measures consistent with judicial independence should be taken to assign non-judicial tasks to other suitably qualified persons.
37. The use of electronic case management systems and information communication technologies should be promoted by both authorities and judges, and their generalised use in courts should be similarly encouraged.
The State has the duty of ensuring that judges have the means necessary to accomplish their tasks properly, and in particular to deal with cases within a reasonable period.
Judicial independence shall be guaranteed in respect of judicial activities and in particular in respect of recruitment, nomination until the age of retirement, promotions, irremovability, training, judicial immunity, discipline, remuneration and financing of the judiciary.
It shall be a priority of the highest order for the State to provide adequate resources to allow for the due administration of justice, including physical facilities appropriate for the maintenance of judicial independence, dignity and efficiency; judicial and administrative personnel; and operating budgets.
- 2. Consultative Council of European Judges, Opinion No. 2 (2001) on the funding and management of courts with reference to the efficiency of the judiciary and to article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, para. 10;
Although the CCJE cannot ignore the economic disparities between countries, the development of appropriate funding for courts requires greater involvement by the courts themselves in the process of drawing up the budget. The CCJE agreed that it was therefore important that the arrangements for parliamentary adoption of the judicial budget include a procedure that takes into account judicial views.
The budget of the courts shall be prepared by the competent authority in collaboration with the judiciary having regard to the needs and requirements of judicial administration.
Decisions on the allocation of funds to courts must be taken with the strictest respect for the principle of judicial independence and the judiciary should have an opportunity to express its views about the proposed budget to parliament, possibly through the judicial council.
- 3. UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, Principle 11;
The term of office of judges, their independence, security, adequate remuneration, conditions of service, pensions and the age of retirement shall be adequately secured by law.
53. The principal rules of the system of remuneration for professional judges should be laid down by law.
54. Judges’ remuneration should be commensurate with their profession and responsibilities, and be sufficient to shield them from inducements aimed at influencing their decisions. Guarantees should exist for maintaining a reasonable remuneration in case of illness, maternity or paternity leave, as well as for the payment of a retirement pension, which should be in a reasonable relationship to their level of remuneration when working. Specific legal provisions should be introduced as a safeguard against a reduction in remuneration aimed specifically at judges.
Judges exercising judicial functions in a professional capacity are entitled to remuneration, the level of which is fixed so as to shield them from pressures aimed at influencing their decisions and more generally their behaviour within their jurisdiction, thereby impairing their independence and impartiality.
Recommendation No. R (94) 12 provides that judges’ “remuneration should be guaranteed by law” and “commensurate with the dignity of their profession and burden of responsibilities” (Principles I(2)(a)(ii) and III(1)(b)). The European Charter contains an important, hard-headed and realistic recognition of the role of adequate remuneration in shielding “from pressures aimed at influencing their decisions and more generally their behaviour ….”, and of the importance of guaranteed sickness pay and adequate retirement pensions (paragraph 6). The CCJE fully approved the European Charter’s statement.
To sum up, the Venice Commission is of the opinion that for judges a level of remuneration should be guaranteed by law in conformity with the dignity of their office and the scope of their duties. Bonuses and non-financial benefits, the distribution of which involves a discretionary element, should be phased out.
The term of office of the judges, their independence, security, adequate remuneration and conditions of service shall be secured by law and shall not be altered to their disadvantage.
The judge must receive sufficient remuneration to secure true economic independence. The remuneration must not depend on the results of the judges work and must not be reduced during his or her judicial service. The judge has a right to retirement with an annuity or pension in accordance with his or her professional category. After retirement a judge must not be prevented from exercising another legal profession solely because he or she has been a judge.
- 4. European Charter on the Statute for Judges, para. 6.3.
The statute provides a guarantee for judges acting in a professional capacity against social risks linked with illness, maternity, invalidity, old age and death.
- 5. Constitution, Article 46(1).
Everyone shall be guaranteed judicial protection of his rights and freedoms.
- 6. Constitution, Article 47(1).
No one may be deprived of the right to the consideration of his or her case in that court and by that judge in whose cognizance the given case is according to law.
- 7. Constitution, Article 124.
The courts shall be financed only from the federal budget and the possibility of the complete and independent administration of justice shall be ensured in keeping with the requirements of federal law.
- 8. International Commission of Jurists, The State of the Judiciary in Russia (November 2010), p. 24.↵
- 9. International Commission of Jurists, The State of the Judiciary in Russia (November 2010), p. 25-26.↵
- 10. Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy, Report on a Mission to the Russian Federation, UN Doc. A/HRC/11/41/Add.2 (23 March 2009), para. 64.
Judicial salaries have been significantly raised several times in the past years. While
in 2000, a judge’s average monthly salary was less than 200 USD, the monthly salary today is 50,000 roubles for district court judges (about 2000 USD).
- 11. Russian Federation Law On the Judicial Department under the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, Article 1(2).
Organisational support of the courts’ activity in the context of the present Federal Law shall be understood to mean measures of personnel, financial material – and – technical and other nature aimed to provide conditions for the full and independent administration of justice.
- 12. See e.g., Presidential Decree of 29 October 2013 on Increase of the Salaries of the Judges of Courts of the Russian Federation and the Prosecutor’s Office Employees, N 810.↵
- 13. International Commission of Jurists, The State of the Judiciary in Russia (November 2010), p. 24-25.↵
- 14. International Commission of Jurists, The State of the Judiciary in Russia (November 2010), p. 25.↵
- 15. International Commission of Jurists, The State of the Judiciary in Russia (November 2010), p. 25.↵