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The judiciary (also known as the judicial system) is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes. Under the doctrine of the Separation of powers it is one of the three branches of the state alongside the executive and the legislature. Under this doctrine the judiciary generally does not make law (that is, in a plenary fashion, which is the responsibility of the legislature) or enforce law (which is the responsibility of the executive), but rather interprets law and applies it to the facts of each case.

An independent and effective judiciary is critical to ensuring the rule of law, protecting life and property, building a working system of checks and balances to guarantee fundamental rights, and solving disputes among different levels of government as well as various socio-politico-economic actors. In addition, an independent and competent judiciary is necessary for promoting both local and foreign investment. One of the factors contributing to the inability of post-conflict countries to attract investment is the inadequacy of judicial systems to provide predictable dispute-resolution mechanisms through which investors can be assured of the security of their investments.

The following measures are recommended to strengthen the judiciary:

  • Specific procedures should be clearly defined for the training, recruitment and advancement of all judges and court officials, to protect the judiciary from interference by political bodies or contending parties. In general, the keys to an independent judiciary include long-term appointments or lifetime tenure, merit-based promotions, adequate salaries and status parity with other government officials.
  • Improvements should be made to the operation and working modalities of the judicial system. For example, mediation and arbitration techniques can be introduced as alternatives to going to court to resolve disputes.
  • A code of ethics should be spelled out, along with plans for implementing it, imposing sanctions and raising awareness among both the judicial community and the public.
  • Effort should be made to ensure a satisfactory working environment, adequate infrastructure and adequate building facilities.
  • Information and communication technologies should be used to facilitate working modalities and internal operations, especially concerning records.
  • Competent and corruption-free commercial courts should be established to settle business disputes expeditiously.
  • In the current context of globalization and regional integration, judicial systems and institutions should be cognizant of international legal frameworks, international laws and international dispute resolution mechanisms (World Public Sector Report 2010, p. 65-66).

Further reading


cofog 0330 - Law courts (CS) where the ''actual controversies involving rights'' may exist in any of the economic activities and it may involve any of the laws or functions of government.

In the media

The Fringes

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"Judiciary" in the tree of "Macro"