Judicial Tenure, Removal, Immunity and Accountability

International IDEA Constitution-Building Primer 5
This publication is only available in electronic format
5 August 2014
978-91-7671-110-1 (Print)
Elliot W. Bulmer

This Primer covers the rules governing the tenure, immunity, discipline and removal of judges in constitutional democracies. In particular, it discusses various attempts to balance the need for judicial independence and neutrality to be balanced against judicial responsiveness and accountability.

International IDEA’s Constitution-Building Primers are designed to assist in-country constitution-building or constitutional-reform processes by helping citizens, political parties, civil society organizations, public officials and members of constituent assemblies make wise constitutional choices. They also provide guidance for staff of intergovernmental organizations and other external actors working to provide well informed, context-relevant support to local decision-makers.

Each Primer is written as an introduction for non-specialist readers, and as a convenient aide-memoire for those with prior knowledge of, or experience with, constitution-building. Arranged thematically around the practical choices faced by constitution-builders, the Primers aim to explain complex constitutional issues in a quick and easy way.

This revised and reformatted edition was published in October 2017.


1. Introduction

2. What is the issue?

3. Standards and principles

4. Judicial terms of office

5. Disciplining and removal of judges

6. Judicial immunities, incompatibilities, budgets and salaries

7. Contextual considerations

8. Examples

9. Decision-making questions