Code of Conduct for the Judges of the EFTA Court as of 1 January 2022
The EFTA COURT,
Having regard to the Agreement on the European Economic Area, in particular Article 122 thereof;
Having regard to the Agreement between the EFTA States on the Establishment of a Surveillance Authority and a Court of Justice (SCA), in particular Articles 27 and 30 thereof;
Having regard to the Statute of the EFTA Court, in particular Article 4 and the first and second paragraphs of Article 15 thereof;
Having regard to the Rules of Procedure of the EFTA Court, in particular Articles 4 and 5 thereof;
Whereas it is appropriate to establish a Code of Conduct for the Judges of the EFTA Court defining the obligations arising under the provisions of the Statute and of the Rules of Procedure;
HEREBY ADOPTS THE PRESENT CODE OF CONDUCT:
This Code of Conduct shall apply to Judges and former Judges of the EFTA Court.
- Judges shall devote themselves fully to the performance of their duties.
- Judges shall perform their duties with complete independence, integrity, dignity and impartiality and with loyalty and discretion, in compliance with the rules set out in this Code of Conduct.
Independence, integrity and dignity
- Judges shall perform their duties with complete independence and integrity, without taking account of any personal or national interest. They shall neither seek nor follow any instructions from the governments of the EFTA States or any private or public entities.
- Judges shall not accept gifts of any kind which might call into question their independence.
- Judges shall respect the dignity of their office.
- Judges shall not act or express themselves, through whatever medium, in a manner which adversely affects the public perception of their independence, their integrity or the dignity of their office.
- Judges shall avoid any situation which may give rise to a conflict of personal interest or which objectively may be perceived as such.
- They shall not be involved in dealing with a case in which they have any personal interest.
- Judges shall not act or express themselves, through whatever medium, in a manner which adversely affects the public perception of their impartiality.
Notification and declaration as to personal interests
- Judges shall notify the President of the EFTA Court if they are to deal with a case in which they have an interest that might give rise to a conflict of interest or a situation which objectively may be perceived as such.
- On taking up their duties, Judges shall submit a declaration of their direct financial interests, within the meaning of paragraph 3, to the President.
- The declaration shall identify every entity in which the Judge, his or her spouse or partner or minor children, has a direct financial interest which, because of its scale, might reasonably be perceived as being capable of giving rise to a conflict of interest if the Judge were to hear a case involving that entity. In this declaration, the Judge shall identify each entity in which he or she has such a financial interest, which may be in the form of a specific financial holding in its capital, in particular, shares, or any other form of financial interest, for example, bonds or investment certificates. This paragraph does not apply to entities in which the Judge owns holdings managed on a discretionary basis by a third party.
- In the event of changes in the list of entities identified in the declaration provided for in paragraph 2, a new declaration shall be submitted at the earliest opportunity and, at the latest, within two months after the change in question.
- The objective of the notifications and declarations provided for in paragraphs 1 to 3 is to allow the President to ascertain whether a Judge has a personal interest in the outcome of the dispute in a given case in accordance with Article 15 of the Statute. The President shall submit the declarations to an administrative meeting to be taken note of.
- Judges shall comply with their duty of loyalty towards the EFTA Court.
- Judges shall make use of the services of officials and other servants of the EFTA Court, in particular those allocated to their Chambers, in a respectful manner.
- Judges shall manage the material resources of the EFTA Court in a responsible manner.
- Judges shall refrain from making any statement outside the EFTA Court which may harm its reputation.
- Judges shall preserve the secrecy of the deliberations.
- Judges shall comply with their duty to exercise discretion in dealing with judicial and administrative matters.
- Judges shall act and express themselves with the restraint that their office requires.
- Judges shall undertake to comply in all circumstances with their obligation to be available so as to devote themselves fully to the performance of their duties.
- Judges may engage in external activities only if they are compatible with their duties arising under Articles 2 to 4, 6 and 7 of this Code of Conduct. Without prejudice to the derogation provided for in the second paragraph of Article 4 of the Statute of the EFTA Court, engaging in any professional activity other than that resulting from the performance of their duties shall be incompatible with the duties set out in this Code of Conduct.
- The prohibition referred to in paragraph 2 includes, in particular, activities such as:
(a) Advocacy or legal assistance subject to remuneration;
(b) Management of undertakings that are engaged in commercial activities;
(c) Membership of a board of governors in public or private undertakings;
(d) Official or political functions on behalf of the nominating EFTA State whether gainful or not.
- Judges are authorised to engage in external activities that are closely related to the performance of their duties. In that context:
(a) they may represent the EFTA Court at ceremonies and official events,
(b) they may participate in activities of European interest that relate, inter alia, to the dissemination of EEA/EU law and to dialogue with national and international courts or tribunals. In this respect, Judges may participate in teaching activities, conferences, seminars or symposia.
- In addition, Judges may be authorised by a decision of the EFTA Court to assume unremunerated duties in foundations or similar bodies in the legal, cultural, artistic, social, sporting or charitable fields and in teaching or research establishments. In that connection, they shall undertake not to engage in any managerial or administrative activities which might compromise their independence or their availability or which might give rise to a conflict of interest. The expression ‘foundations or similar bodies’ means not-for-profit establishments or associations which carry out activities in the general interest in the fields referred to.
- Publications and the resulting copyright royalties shall be allowed without prior authorisation.
- The EFTA Court shall provide the ESA/Court Committee annually with a list of activities the Judges engage in in accordance with paragraphs 4 and 5. A list of such activities shall be published on the Court’s website after the activity has taken place.
Duties of the Judges after ceasing to hold office
- After ceasing to hold office, Judges shall continue to be bound by their duty of integrity, of dignity, of loyalty and of discretion.
- Judges undertake that after ceasing to hold office, they will not become involved
(a) in any manner whatsoever in cases which were pending before the EFTA Court when they ceased to hold office,
(b) in any manner whatsoever in cases directly and clearly connected with cases, including concluded cases, which they have dealt with as Judge and
(c) for a period of three years from the date of their ceasing to hold office, as representatives of parties, in either written or oral pleadings, in cases before the EFTA Court.
- In cases other than those referred to in points (a), (b) and (c) of paragraph 2, former Judges may be involved as agent, counsel, adviser or expert or provide a legal opinion or serve as an arbitrator, provided that they comply with the duties arising under paragraph 1.
- If in doubt as to the application of this article, a former Judge may contact the President of the EFTA Court, who shall decide whether the envisaged activity is compatible with the Code of Conduct.
Ad hoc Judges
- Judges sitting in a particular case under the fourth paragraph of Article 30 SCA (“ad hoc Judges”) shall perform their duties in compliance with Articles 3, 4, 6, and 7 of this Code.
- After the expiry of their terms as ad hoc Judges, they shall, as appropriate, continue to be bound by their duty of integrity, of dignity, of loyalty and of discretion.
Entry into force
- This Code of Conduct shall enter into force on 1 January 2022 and shall apply to Judges and ad hoc Judges of the EFTA Court.
- The declaration of financial interests of the Judges in office on the date of entry into force of this Code of Conduct shall be submitted to the President of the EFTA Court no later than one month after that date.