Comparing the World’s Best Judicial Systems

Who Has the Best Judicial System?

The best judicial systems have high standards of transparency, judicial independence and fighting corruption. It also helps if citizens trust the system and feel safe when they are involved in legal proceedings.

This list of the world’s best judicial systems was determined based on criteria such as timeframes for legal resolutions, the efficiency of judicial interpretation and availability of judicial officers.

Denmark

In Denmark, the judicial system is fully independent from the legislative and executive branches of the country’s government. The judiciary is a highly respected institution in Denmark with most citizens trusting it. In addition, the judiciary is transparent and accessible to the public. For example, the Supreme Court’s “today section” on its website makes it easy for citizens to access information about the Supreme Court’s decisions and activities.

The judicial system also has many checks and balances. The Parliamentary Ombudsman has the right to examine Parliament’s administration of its legislative and executive powers, while the Court of Indictment and Revision can investigate complaints about judges and legal practitioners. In 2020, criminal law cases were solved in approximately 64 days, which is below the EU median of 139 days.

Norway

Norway’s judicial system has undergone substantial structural and organisational changes in recent decades, amplifying many of its Nordic legal-cultural hallmarks. These include a strong preference for general courts over special ones and a search for pragmatic solutions. This is evident in the widespread use of out-of-court dispute resolution processes such as consumer dispute resolution and victim-offender mediation.

A significant characteristic of the Norwegian justice system is that it is independent from both the legislative and executive branches of the government. Its courts have wide authority over civil disputes and criminal matters, while administrative cases are handled by local district and regional courts. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the entire country. In cases before the Supreme Court, there is no immediate presentation of evidence and testimony from witnesses or parties, and the proceedings are conducted in writing.

Finland

Finland has a highly developed judicial system. The legal aid system ensures that citizens are able to access free legal representation in courts. The system is based on the principle of equality and respect for citizens. It is also transparent and free from corruption.

The Finnish constitution guarantees the independence of the judiciary. It establishes the structure of the courts and outlines a number of specific rights for citizens. The constitution also defines the responsibilities of the judiciary.

The judicial system consists of district courts (karajaoikeus) that are judged by the chief judge and assistants and municipal or rural district courts. Court decisions can be appealed to the courts of appeal or the Supreme Court. Mediation is available for civil and criminal cases, significantly reducing legal costs.

Sweden

The Swedish judicial system is comprised of a number of government agencies that are charged with upholding security and the rule of law within Sweden. These agencies include police and law enforcement, prosecutors, courts, prisons, and other correctional services.

Like Denmark, Sweden has a dual court structure with special courts for certain substantive topics such as labour, environmental etc. The decision of these specialized courts cannot be reviewed by general courts.

Another unique feature of the Swedish legal system is that lay judges have been a part of the justice system for over a thousand years. This is in contrast to most civil law countries that have shifted away from this practice.

Netherlands

The Netherlands’ judicial system is a three-tiered process that begins with a district court. The country has 11 district courts, four courts of appeal and the Supreme Court.

Civil procedure involves disputes between private individuals and companies while criminal proceedings deal with offences that harm society as a whole. The Netherlands is renowned for its lenient treatment of offenders, but it also has strict laws.

The Dutch government is working to make the legal system more accessible by simplifying procedures for straightforward civil disputes. They are also introducing new legislation to help combat the proliferation of false documents and money laundering. The country’s legal system has high tribunal standards and Dutch judges can be relied upon to apply established law, based on precedents set by previous cases.

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