Reconstructing the Understanding of the Role of Judicial Self-Governance in the Separation of Powers

Many European countries introduced judicial councils as the best design securing judicial independence, separation of powers and emancipation of judges. However, growing negative experience from CEE shows that these promises were not fulfilled. Not only JCs failed to secure judicial independence and prevent political inferences in the judiciary, in some instances, they isolated the courts and helped foster networks of patronage and corruption. We argue that binary differentiation between court administration systems with JCs and ministries does not sufficiently capture the complexity of the separation of power between judges and political actors. The empowerment of judiciary is not automatic but originates from a will of the executive power to delegate the governance competences. Using a new Judicial Self-Governance Index, which captures the overall participation of judges on governance, we move beyond the JCs narrative and shift attention to the problem of competence delegation