Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 60777
Building Trust between Judges across Borders: A Qualitative Analysis of Transnational Judicial Networks in Europe

Authors: Erin Jackson


In light of the goals of the Lisbon Treaty (2009) for judicial cooperation between member states, and the increased judicial training initiatives of the European Commission, the topic of alignment of judicial cultures and values raises pertinent questions as to how such alignment is to be achieved in practice. Outside of the ‘transnational borrowing’ practices of courts in Europe, there is a more nuanced approach to creating synergy or consensus among judges from different member states, namely in judicial networks. This paper examines the function as well as perceptions of cooperation of judicial networks via qualitative methods. It first dissects current assumptions in literature and policy on the purpose of judicial networks, and then takes an empirical legal approach to investigate whether or not such assumptions are justified. The focus of this paper is placed on a case study of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE), one of four case studies to be included in the researcher’s doctoral dissertation. The CCJE, comprised entirely of judges, not only holds a formalized function in the Council of Europe but also serves as an illustration of the different roles of networks -including trust-building, solidarity and norm-setting- on the landscape of European judicial cultures. As part of this case study, the history and context of the network are explored since its beginning in 2001 as well as its ongoing role as an advisory body, including its various outputs such as opinions on selected topics and official statements made upon request regarding serious situations in various member states. This research explores the perception of transnational network participation on the basis of observation and interviews with participating judges, with particular attention paid to the formation of bonds between judges and the shared learning experience. It finds that although assumptions of trust-building and solidarity are to some extent justified, this perceived benefit of network participation in practice is outweighed by the role of information sharing and the ease of access to information that would otherwise be difficult to acquire.

Keywords: Trust, cooperation, Europe, information-sharing, judicial networks

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