Sixth constitutional reform will be transforming judicial organisation as well (update)

Sixth constitutional reform will be transforming judicial organisation as well (update)

The sixth constitutional reform will also be having an impact on the judicial organisation that shouldn´t be underestimated. An earlier newsflash already reported on the changes concerning the Judicial District of Brussels[1]. The key points of the Act of 1 December 2013 reforming the judicial districts and amending the Judicial Code with a view to a greater mobility of the members of the Judiciary, which was published on 10 December 2013 in the Belgian Official Journal, are briefly explained below.
 
The judicial reorganisation is based on three pillars, namely increase in scale, mobility and management.
 
The increase in scale is expressed by a reduction in the number of districts from twenty-seven to twelve, with it being understood that the other venues are being maintained as “divisions”. The centralisation is intended to rectify the current fragmentation of personnel, resources and workloads, without however increasing the distance between citizens and the justice system. The splitting up into divisions of the labour appellate courts, courts of first instance, labour courts, commercial courts and police courts has been regulated by Royal Decree of 14 March 2014 (published in the Official Journal on 24 March 2014). Thus, for example, the Court of First Instance of Antwerp is being split into three divisions, i.e. Antwerp, Mechelen and Turnhout. For the commercial courts and the labour courts account is taken of the legal district of the courts of appeal, so that for Antwerp there will be five divisions, namely Antwerp, Mechelen, Turnhout, Hasselt and Tongeren.

A broader deployability will be expected of magistrates and court personnel, which should improve the speed and quality of the administration of justice. It will be easier to assign judges to sit in other courts, in accordance with current needs. The increased mobility applies not only territorially, but also substantively, and so (for example) a judge in the Court of First Instance will be able to exercise his office temporarily in a Commercial Court or even a Court of Appeal. 
 
As far as management is concerned, greater autonomy is being given to the local officials. The Act of 18 February 2014 on the introduction of an autonomous management for the judicial organisation was published in the Official Journal on 4 March 2014.
 
The new rules will enter into effect on 1 April 2014.

[1] 24 September 2012: Sixth constitutional reform: Judicial district of Brussels
http://www.schoups.be/nl/nieuws/1598/zesde-staatshervorming-gerechtelijk-arrondissement-brussel