Print   

CONSTITUTION

 

CHAPTER VI

On judicial power

[...]

Article 151


§ 1. Judges are independent in the exercise of their jurisdictional competences. The
public prosecutor is independent in conducting individual investigations and prosecutions, without prejudice to the right of the competent minister to order prosecutions and to prescribe binding directives on criminal policy, including policy on investigations and prosecutions.

Moreover, Community and Regional Governments have the right, each one insofar as it is concerned, to order prosecutions regarding matters falling under their responsibility through the Minister referred to in the first paragraph. A law passed by a majority as described in Article 4, last paragraph determines the manner in which they exercise this right.

A law passed by a majority as described in Article 4, last paragraph provides for the participation by the Communities and the Regions, in matters falling under their responsibility, in the elaboration of the directives described in the first sub-paragraph and in planning security policy, and also for the participation of their representatives in
the meetings of the College of Public Prosecutors General, insofar as these meetings have reference to these same matters.

§ 2. There is one High Council of Justice for all Belgium. In the exercise of its competences, the High Council of Justice respects the independence referred to in § 1.

The High Council of Justice is composed of a Dutch-speaking college and of a French-speaking college. Each college comprises an equal number of members and is constituted with equal representation, on the one hand, of judges and officers of the public prosecutor’s office elected directly by their peers under the conditions and in the manner determined by the law and, on the other hand, of other members appointed by the Senate by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, under conditions established by the law.

Within each college, there is a nomination and appointment committee, as well as an advisory and investigatory committee, which are constituted with equal representation in accordance with the provision laid down in the preceding paragraph.

The law specifies the composition of the High Council of Justice, of its colleges and of their committees, as well as the conditions under which and the manner in which they exercise their competences.

§ 3. The High Council of Justice exercises its competences in the following areas:
1° the nomination of candidates for appointment as judge, as referred to in § 4, first sub-paragraph or for appointment as officer of the public prosecutor’s office;
2° the nomination of candidates for an appointment to the positions referred to in § 5, first sub-paragraph and to the position of head of the public prosecutor’s office;
3° access to the position of judge or of officer of the public prosecutor’s office;
4° training of judges and of officers of the public prosecutor’s office;
5° drafting of general profiles for the positions referred to in 2°;
6° voicing of advice and of proposals concerning the general operation and organisation of the judiciary;
7° general surveillance on and the promoting of the use of means of internal control;
8° to the exclusion of all disciplinary and criminal competences:
– the receiving and the following-up of complaints relating to the operation of the
judiciary;
– the conducting of an enquiry on the operation of the judiciary.
Under the conditions and in the manner determined by the law, the competences referred to in 1° to 4° are assigned to the relevant nomination and appointment committee, and the competences referred to in 5° to 8° are assigned to the relevant advisory and investigatory committee. The law determines the cases in which and the manner in which the nomination and appointment committees and the advisory and investigatory committees exercise their competences jointly.

A law to be adopted by a majority as described in Article 4, last paragraph determines the other competences of this Council.

§ 4. The justices of the peace and the judges of the courts and of the Supreme Court are appointed by the King under the conditions and in the manner specified by the law.

Such appointment is made on reasoned nomination by the relevant nomination and appointment committee, by a majority of two thirds in accordance with the terms specified by the law and after evaluation of qualifications and aptitude. The nomination can be rejected only in the manner specified by the law and with justification.

In the case of appointment of an appeal judge or of a judge of the Supreme Court, the general assembly of the court concerned issues a reasoned opinion in the manner specified by the law, prior to the nomination referred to in the preceding paragraph.

§ 5. The first president of the Supreme Court, the first presidents of the appeal courts and the presidents of the lower courts are appointed to those positions by the King under the conditions and in the manner specified by the law.

Such appointment is made on reasoned nomination by the relevant nomination and appointment committee, by a majority of two thirds in accordance with the terms specified by the law and after evaluation of qualifications and aptitude. The nomination may be rejected only in the manner specified by the law and with justification.

In the case of appointment to the position of first president of the Supreme Court or of first president of an appeal court, the general assembly of the court concerned issues a reasoned opinion in the manner specified by the law, prior to the nomination referred to in the preceding paragraph.

The president of the Supreme Court, the presidents of the sections of this court, the presidents of the divisions of the appeal courts and the vice-presidents of the lower courts are appointed to their positions by the courts from their midst under the conditions and in the manner specified by the law.

Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 152, the law specifies the duration of the appointment to these positions.

§ 6. In the manner specified by the law, the judges, the incumbents of the positions referred to in § 5, fourth sub-paragraph and the officers of the public prosecutor’s office are subject to an evaluation.

The provisions of §§ 3 to 6 enter into force after the setting up of the High Council of Justice, referred to in § 2.

On that date, it is assumed that the first president and the president of the Supreme Court, the presidents of the sections of this court, the first presidents of the appeal courts, the presidents of the divisions of these courts and the presidents and vice-presidents of the lower courts are appointed to these positions for the duration and under the conditions specified by the law and that they are appointed at the same time to the Supreme Court, to the appeal court or to the labour court and to the corresponding lower court, respectively.

In the meantime, the following provisions remain applicable:

The justices of the peace and the judges of the lower courts are appointed directly by the King.

The judges of the appeal courts and the presidents and vice-presidents of the courts of first instance under their jurisdiction are appointed by the King from two lists each with two candidates, one submitted by these courts, the other by the provincial councils and the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region, depending upon the case.

The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the King from two lists each with two candidates, one submitted by the Supreme Court, the other alternately by the House of Representatives and by the Senate.

In these two cases, the candidates placed on one list may also appear on the other.

All the nominations are made public at least fifteen days before the appointment.

The courts choose from among themselves their presidents and vice-presidents.

Article 152


Judges are appointed for life. They retire at an age determined by the law and receive the pension provided for by the law.

No judge can be deprived of his post or suspended except by a court decision.

The transfer of a judge can only take place by his appointment to a new position and with his consent.

[...]