Media Summary - Cape Town Principles

16 Feb 2016 - 16:15

How are judges appointed?
New principles from international working group
The Cape Town Principles look for a way that is neither a ‘tap on the shoulder’ nor a confrontation of powers
15 February 2016

A set of principles on the appointment of judges is being published today, 15 February 2016, by an international working group. The Cape Town Principles are available for download from The new ‘Cape Town Principles’ come at a time when the US is expecting to see a stand-off between the Executive and the Legislature over who should be appointed to the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. In contrast with the frequently confrontational US processes, or the ‘tap on the shoulder’ by a government minister that was the norm for so long in the UK and its former colonies, the Cape Town Principles focus on a ‘third way’ of appointing judges. This is to entrust the task to an independent commission with a broad membership in which judges themselves, and the legal profession, also have a say. Such bodies, most often called Judicial Service Commissions or Judicial Appointment Commissions, have become by far the most popular mechanism by which senior judges are appointed in Commonwealth jurisdictions. By 2015, more than 80% of Commonwealth member states had established such bodies, according to Bingham Centre research published last year.The Cape Town working group included experts from South Africa, the UK, Nigeria, Malaysia, Kenya and Canada.

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