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Standards of drafting statements of reasons in judicial decisions – the response of the NCJ

The National Council of Judiciary responded to another letter of the HFHR concerning the issue of judges copying passages from justifications written in other cases. The NCJ upheld its previous position on the matter. In addition, it condemned the practice of repeating lexical, stylistic and punctuation errors in the copied passages of statements of reasons. At the same time, the NCJ also made a point that it was not authorised to review justifications for judicial decisions on their merits.

Let’s remind our readers that in its earlier response the Council argued that the use of views already expressed in courts decisions or passages from rulings entered by the same or another court (or judge) was not only allowed but even recommended to ensure the uniformity of jurisprudence. Justifications should address individual features of given proceedings and should not make reference to a number of judicial decisions and doctrinal views. The NCJ found that also the ECtHR quotes its previous judgments verbatim in new cases.

In its latest letter the Foundation expressed its doubts regarding the practice of depriving court rulings of any individual character by copying decisions issued by other adjudicating panels, almost in their entirety. This practice involves not only copying the parts of rulings devoted to the analysis of the law but also, and more disturbingly, the statements of facts. The Foundation cited the case in which the court’s reasons were almost completely copied from a previous judgement rendered by the same court sitting in a different panel. The copied version remained faithful to the original syntax, spelling and layout, even to the point of repeating punctuation errors contained in this previous judgement. Copying, in that case, had nothing to do with citing the views of the doctrine or case law.

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