The Judicial Officer
Judicial officers are public and ministerial officers who are appointed by Royal Decree and for life
They form part of the group of liberal professions and work in a self-employed capacity.
Belgium numbers about 520 judicial officers, who are deployed in function of the population density, across the entire country, which has been divided into 26 judicial districts.
Judicial officers are obliged to furnish their services when asked to, save in specific cases as provided for by law.
Code of ethics
Judicial officers are also obliged to abide by the rules of professional conduct the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of Belgium has drawn up.
The District Chambers ensure that these rules of professional conduct are respected and impose sanctions on any judicial officer who fails to abide by them. These sanctions can range from a reminder to a reprimand, and if the facts are sufficiently serious, the relevant District Chamber will refer the file to the Public Prosecutor who may decide to suspend the judicial officer in question for a certain period of time or remove him/her from office altogether.
Before assuming their duties, judicial officers must take an oath of office, swearing that they will comply with all the laws and regulations governing their office and that they will fulfil their duties with accuracy and probity.
Judicial officers are bound by professional secrecy and are obliged to safeguard the interests of all parties, plaintiffs and defendants alike.
Judicial officers can be held liable by all the parties to a dispute and this at three levels: criminal, civil and/or disciplinary. This entails that, if a professional fault or error has been committed, the judicial officer in question may be ordered to pay damages and, what’s more, may be punished, suspended or removed from office.
Judicial officers have professional liability insurance to cover themselves against third-party claims.