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Core skills for judicial officers

Core skills for judicial officers (5 days)

 

The rule of law, separation of powers and judicial independence

Aims and Objectives:

The aims and objectives of this section are to promote:

  • an understanding of the principles of the Rule of Law;
  • discussion of the principle of the Separation of Powers including familiarisation with the Commonwealth Latimer House Principles on the accountability of and the relationship between the three branches of Government;
  • a better understanding of the concept of judicial independence and the need to ensure that it is safeguarded;

 

Outcomes:

By the end of the course, participants should be able to:

  • understand what is meant by the Rule of Law and its importance;
  •  have a good grasp of the principles that inform the Separation of Powers;
  • identify the core principles of judicial independence;
  • identify circumstances in which judicial independence may be compromised in practice and apply strategies to deal with any threat to judicial independence;

 

 

Judicial ethics (including recusal)

Aims and Objectives

The aims and objectives of this section are to promote:

 

  • an awareness and active consideration of judicial ethics and familiarisation with both National Guidelines for Judicial Conduct and International Principles, especially the Bangalore Principles;
  • discussion and debate amongst Judges as to the approach to ethical problems.

 

Outcomes

 

By the end of the course, participants should:

  • have an in-depth knowledge of their National Guidelines for Judicial Conduct;
  • be able to identify best practices by reference to both National and International principles, especially the Bangalore Principles;
  • be able to distinguish appropriate and inappropriate behaviour both on and off the bench;

 

Judgment writing

Aims and Objectives

The aims and objectives of this section are:      

To enhance the skills of judges to craft and deliver judgments

Outcomes

By the end of the course participants will be able better to:

  • Consider the audience for particular judgments and what impact that may have on the manner in which the judgment is written (judges should recognise the consequence of web-based publication of judgments for privacy and deciding what can be excluded to avoid unnecessary breaches of privacy);
  • Identify the appropriate structure of the judgment, its content and order;
  • Recognise the value of “plain language” and concise reasoning;
  • Speedily digest and process information, identifying the important issues and evidence;
  • Make cogent assessments of credibility, free of bias;
  • Draft and deliver well- structured judgments that are clear, properly reasoned and appropriately concise.
  • Identify approaches and techniques to judgment writing

 

 

Modern approaches to interpretation

Aims and Objectives

The aims and objectives of this section are to promote:

  • An understanding of modern approaches to interpretation, particularly the importance of context in interpretation, and the move away from approaches which focus only on text;
  • Familiarity with some of the emerging case law in the Commonwealth relating to interpretation; and
  • discussion and debate amongst Judges as to how to deal with specific issues in constitutional, statutory and contractual interpretation.

 

Outcomes

By the end of the course, participants should:

  • have a working understanding of modern approaches to interpretation;
  • be familiar with some of the leading cases in the emerging jurisprudence on interpretation;
  • be able to assess the value of those approaches and use them in relation to constitutional, statutory and contractual texts.

 

Motions/applications/appeals

Aims and Objectives

The aims and objectives of this section are to promote:

 

  • the effective and efficient management of motion court and applications generally and
  • the development of practical skills to identify and establish basic principles in speedily resolving legal issues where the material facts are not in dispute.

 

Outcomes

By the end of the course, participants should be able to:

  • understand the role of the judge in motion and applications proceedings generally;
  • develop practical checklists for use in preparation of motions and applications;

 

Pre-trial and trial case management

Aims and Objectives

The aims and objectives of this session are:

  • To promote and deepen judges understanding of the purpose, process and

essentials of case/docket management

 

 

Outcomes

By the end of the course, participants should:

  • have an in-depth knowledge of what is meant by case/docket management;
  • have a better appreciation of the process by which courts and court users organise and control movement of cases from initial filing to final disposal;
  • have a better understanding of the benefits of case management and, as a consequence, have the confidence to case manage robustly.