The rule of law cannot be achieved or maintained without the presence of an independent, impartial and effective judiciary. This means that courts, judges and judicial staff must be able to do their work without pressure, influence, interference or restriction of any kind or from any source; any impediment to the exercise of their functions would obstruct the application of the law, and the maintenance of a peaceful and just society.
The judiciary is responsible for the interpretation and the application of the law. It must be able to apply the law to all cases arising in society, whether these cases are between individuals, companies, or, in accordance with the doctrine of separation of powers, in connection to the state and the other branches of Government (namely the executive and the legislative).
This ensures that everyone in society can benefit from the properly exercised functions of the judiciary, even those who do not deal directly with the courts. While the body of laws in any state clearly determines legal obligations and legal rights, these often could not be met or obtained without the possibility of turning to an independent judiciary with the capacity to enforce them.
As such, it is the role of the judiciary to guarantee legal certainty, determining disputes and protecting the rights and the liberties of all. It also protects vulnerable groups and individuals that cannot protect themselves.
In both letter and spirit, the judiciary often ensures that the enacted laws are in accordance with the constitution or other higher laws of the country, as well as with the international legal obligations of the country.
The accessibility of the services of the judiciary must apply to everyone, including those who are disadvantaged or who have special needs. To truly uphold the rule of law, it is essential that all processes and decisions of the judiciary follow the principles of fairness, equality, impartiality and legality, and that they respect human rights and deliver effective remedies.
These functions and responsibilities are incumbent on all members of the judiciary, who must exercise their remit and act with the highest level of integrity. In full accordance with the law, they must refrain from illegal conduct (in particular corruption) and inappropriate behaviour. The guiding values for all judges must be independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety, equality, competence and diligence; without these essential values to guide judges’ decisions, justice cannot be effectively delivered, and rule of law cannot be observed.