Characteristics of the Judiciary: The Judiciary is one of the most important organs of government. It is important because the power to resolve dispute between citizens and the government or between the central government and other levels of government is vested in it. This is apparently why other organs or arms of the government don’t tamper with the judiciary. In most countries, the judiciary also has the power to review the action of other organs of the government through a process known as judicial review.
Having said that, it is imperative to know that there are also some characteristics of features that contributes to the reasons why it is able to perform all the above duties. In other words, when the characteristics of the Judiciary are not present, the judicial in a democratic nation may not be as strong as it is supposed to be. In this article, i will be discussing those essential characteristics of the Judiciary that enables it to perform its functions. I enjoin you to read this work very carefully so that you will grasp the content of this article. First and foremost, let’s look at some of the functions of the judiciary in a nation.
Also see: Factors limiting Rule of Law in Nigeria
Functions of the judiciary
1. Interpretation of the law: The most basic function of the judiciary is the interpretation of law while the legislature makes the law and and executive implements it. This is done by giving judgement on matters that come before it. The Judiciary is thus, seen as the last hope of the common man in every nation because whatever is interpreted by the judiciary must stand whether or not it is correct.
2. Protection of the constitution: The Judiciary is also the arm of government that safeguards the fundamental human rights of citizens. This is done by giving the right judgement in every case which is concern with the rights of citizens.
3. Judicial review: One other important function of the judiciary in most countries is the function of judicial review. This simply means that the judiciary can check the activities of other arms of the government (Executive and Judiciary), and can declare their actions null and void if need be.
4. Administration of oath: During the swearing in of election candidates during elections in a state, the judicial has the function of doing that.
5. Power to make law: Yes! The Judiciary also has the power to make case laws where such has not been made before. Though this is not a basic function of the judiciary because the legislature are naturally given that power. Nonetheless, where no particular law has been passed on a matter the judiciary can decide to Make case law that will govern the matter until the legislature makes a law.
Characteristics of the Judiciary
1. Impartiality: It will be impossible for the judiciary do justice in a state if it is not impartial. Impartiality is a key characteristics of the Judiciary because every function of the judiciary requires it. The Judicial organ of government must be a neutral body that is not in support of any body in their Judgement. This way, it will be able to give judgment without fear or favor.
2. Political Neutrality: The impartial of neutral feature of the judiciary must also cover its political affairs in the nation. Members of the judiciary must not be affiliated to any political group. They must not take part in partician politics.
The reason is because, a member of the judiciary can be influenced because of the fact that he/she belongs to a polical party. Thus, there is most likely not going to be neutrality in political matters in the country.
3. Permanent: Another indispensable characteristics of the judiciary that help it to perform its functions without fear or favor is permanence. This means that, judicial offers are not to be removed from their offices until they reach their retirement age. The Judiciary is a permanent institution inherited by successive government. It does no change along with the government.
4. Independence: The Judiciary is not supposed to be attached to the executive and the legislature because they are the last hope of the common man. The rationale behind this is the fact that the judiciary will not be able to perform its functions if it is dependent on either the executive or the legislative organ of the government.
By making the judiciary independent, it is very easy for them to say the truth and give correct judgment without the fear of being sacked from office or decrease in salary.
5. Profesionalism: The Judicial is made up of those who are legal experts. Every member of the judiciary must have received adequate training in law. In Nigeria, a lawyer must have studied for 7 years before he or she can be accepted as a legal officer into the Nigerian legal system.
In other countries of the world, there is also requirements like this. The reason is because, law is a very important aspect of every society and it must be handled by people who really understand it.
6. Stable tenure of office of Judges: This is similar to the feature of permance. It simply means that the number of years the members of the judiciary are going to stay in office must be stable. In some countries, Judges hold office until they retire if they are not found guilty of any corrupt practices or ill health.
7. Judicial Immunity: Judges enjoy protection in the performance of their duties. The pronouncement of the Judge are not taken against then while delivering judgement.
8. Due process: The Judiciary operates according to laid down rules and precedence. Before any judgement is given they make sure they judge according to what the law is saying about the case. If a judge fails to give judgment according to the law, he/she will be sanctioned by higher authorities. In Nigeria, there is the body known as the Council of Legal Education and the Legal practitioners Disciplinary Committee that is responsible to punishing lawyer and law students who abuse the profession.
9. Code of conduct: The Judiciary has prescribed code of conduct. They have ways of behavior. Thus, if a lawyer or Judge goes contrary to the stipulated code of conduct, he will be punished duly by the law. In Nigeria, the behavior of lawyers is governed by the Rule of Professional Conduct (RPC).
So far, i have listed and explained some of the major characteristics of the Judiciary in a nation. Just like I said before, the characteristics of features of the judiciary are essential for it to perform its functions. That means, if the judiciary is dependent of the government, partial or their tenure of office is not secure, it will be impossible for judicial officers to perform their functions properly. Hope this article was helpful? Drop a comment at the comment box and Shar this work.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ChMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.