VEDOMOSTI  on the independence of judges

Apr 28, 2015

The leading Russian daily VEDOMOSTI publishes the third article by Dr. Alexander Vereshchagin on court reform. It is emphasised in the article that one of the aspects of judicial autonomy consists in judges freedom to interpret laws and thus create precedents whenever the law is found to be contradictory or having gaps. In the Russian Empire before 1864 courts were prohibited from doing this, although in practice the formal prohibition failed to prevent the Senate to make in a covert manner the precedents followed by courts below. After the 1864 the disguise was removed and the Senate became openly a law-making body. 

The spirit of judicial independence is equally promoted by writing and publication of dissents. In courts of the Russian Empire this pactice was commom to the extent that they were repeatedly mentioned even in Chechov's short stories. The current procedural codes also provide for dissents, but for the last few years the legislator cast dubious glances on it: when transferring the powers from the Supreme Commercial Court to the Supreme Court, he "forgot" to transfer the rule concerning the mandatory publication of dissents written by judges of the supreme judicial instance. As a result only the dissents of the Constitutional Court judges are currently subject to piublication in Russia. This circumstance is far from encouraging the spirit of criticism and independence in judges. Therefore, the dissents of corts on all levels must be made available on legal databases. 

In full the article can be read on the VEDOMOSTI web site.