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Greek report 2

“Impact of Recommendation CM/Rec (2010) 12” (Greece)

The scope of the report is to briefly present the impact of Recommendation CM/Rec (2010) 12, with a focus on

infringements on the status of judges in Greece. The first paragraph presents current trends on the remuneration of judges and the second paragraph presents current trends on the ‘scrutiny’ of the ‘internal regulations’ of administrative courts.

I. The Constitution stipulates that the remuneration of judges is pursuant to their function [1]. However, it is the law that dictates the exact salary of judges. So in the past two years the remuneration of judges has been decreased by 38% (a higher reduction than that of other public employees) [2]. Furthermore, it has been leaked to the media that there will be a further reduction of 22% in the coming measures. A reduction that has since been verified from the Minister of Finance to the Associations of Greek Judges [3] and has been presented in the media as a ‘logical’ step to fix the finances of the country. This firstly sets the issue of the external independence of judges [4], since the politicians are using the media to turn public opinion against judges and their decisions (the reports usually contain degrading remarks about the Judiciary and the efficiency of justice). From their part judges cannot respond through the media since the Constitution prohibits them from making any (positive or negative) comment on politicians and their policies [5]. Secondly, the coming reductions seem to breach the principle of equality (the reduction is greater in judges than in other public employees) and in essence do not comply with the last sentence of §54 of the Recommendation [6]. On top of that the coming reduction raises the issue of whether the remuneration of judges is going to be adequate. Since the resources for the function of courts are also limited (and in effect judges and registers have to compensate for this), the coming reductions might “restrict judges’ choice for a certain line of action or decision” [7]. As a result since 16.09.2012 all judges in Greece are ‘on strike’ [8], complaining for the coming reductions to their wages. The Board of the Association of European Administrative Judges has already been notified and has expressed its solidarity to the Greek Administrative Judges, through a letter to the proper European and Greek Authorities.

II. The Constitution provides that all decisions concerning judges shall be taken by a Council of the Judiciary which consists (in the case of administrative courts) from the President of the Council of State and (10 or 14) members of the Council of State, which are chosen by draw and also 2 judges of the administrative courts with no deciding vote. So only with an amendment to the Constitution there can be any change to the composition [9] of the Council of the Judiciary, but it has to be stressed that there have not been any complains to its decisions [10]. Law 4055/2012 stipulates that any modification to a court’s ‘internal regulation’ [11] shall first be scrutinized from the Grand Chamber of each jurisdiction’s Supreme Court (in the case of administrative courts the Council of State). The Council of State with decision 10/2012 (Grand Chamber) has given the opinion that it cannot substitute the decision of the Grand Chamber of each court. However, it added that in examining the modifications of an ‘internal regulation’ it can also scrutinize all the articles of the ‘internal regulation’ and give its observations about other articles of the ‘internal regulations’. The Council of State also observed that the judicial process is not finished within reasonable time and it concluded that the ‘internal regulations’ should not contain any provisions that have a (direct or indirect) result of further limiting the number of cases that each judge hears. Finally, the Council of State did not approve certain provisions of the ‘internal regulations’ that it scrutinized based on the fact that they limited the number of cases that each judge will hear. However, the Council of State did not go so far as to alter by itself the relevant provisions, but referred the matter to the Grand Chamber of each court. It is an open question how the Council of State will exercise this new power over administrative courts, but for the time being it uses it with caution, not interfering directly to the internal administration of the courts. Our Greek Union of Administrative Judges is ready to push forward an initiative with the other Judges Associations to amend this piece of legislation, in order to reduce the risk of harm to the internal independence of the Greek Administrative Judges.


[1] The meaning of the text is similar to that of the first sentence of §54 of the Recommendation

[2] The numbers are taken from the 15/10/2012 letter of the Association of Greek Judges and Prosecutors to the President of the European Parliament.

[3] Due to the fact that there is not a unitary jurisdiction there are five different associations of judges in Greece

[4] §18 and 19 of the Recommendation

[5] This practice is also discoursed by the Recommendation, see §26 of the explanatory notes

[6] « Specific legal provisions should be introduced as a safeguard against a reduction in remuneration aimed specifically at judges » see also §57 of the explanatory notes

[7] §41 of the explanatory notes

[8] The Constitution clearly prohibits judges for going on strike and so the Associations of Judges have opted to issue ‘ex officio’ continuance to all cases that are to be heard from 16.09.2012 onwards (with the exception of cases concerning interim measures and ‘important’ cases).

[9] As expressed in §27 of the Recommendation

[10] Judges who do not agree with a decision of the Council of the Judiciary can appeal to the Grand Chamber of the Council of State

[11] The ‘internal regulation’ is decided by the Grand Chamber of each court and deals with day-today issues regarding the functioning of the court