Assessor (law)

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In some jurisdictions, an assessor is a judge's or magistrate's assistant. This is the historical meaning of this word.

In common law jurisdictions, assessors are usually non-lawyers who sit together with a judge to provide either expert advice (such as on maritime matters) or guidance on local practices. The use of assessors nowadays is quite rare. In some jurisdictions, such as Fiji, assessors are used in place of juries. An assessor's opinion or view of a case is not binding on a judge.

Civil law jurisdictions[edit]

Denmark[edit]

In Denmark, it was the former title given to Supreme Court judges. Today the title is given to Deputy Judges. See Courts of Denmark.

Germany[edit]

In Germany, Rechtsassessor ("assessor of law") is a title held by graduates of law who have passed both the first and the second of the two state exams (finishing law school and "the bar") qualifying for a career in a legal profession such as judge or prosecutor, attorney at law or notary public.

Italy[edit]

In Italy, an Assessor (in Italian language: assessore) is a member of a Giunta, the executive body in all levels of local government: regions, provinces and communes.

Norway[edit]

In Norway, the title was used for any judge before 1927.[1]

Sweden[edit]

In Sweden, a judge who has been a district court clerk for two years, an appeal court clerk for at least one year, a deputy district judge for at least two years and a deputy appeal court judge for one year gets, if he or she is approved, the title assessor. Hovrättsassessor = assessor of the civil and criminal appeal court. Kammarrättsassessor = assessor of the administrative appeal court. Having the degree of assessor is the most common way of getting a constitutionally protected position as a judge (ordinarie domare), but increasingly advocates, prosecutors and doctors of law are also appointed to these positions.

Soviet Union and PRC[edit]

In the former Soviet Union and modern People's Republic of China, a judge presiding at trial is assisted by two "people's assessors" drawn much like jurors from citizens in the community. They do not rule on matters of law but can allow or deny objections. When the trial is completed the judge and people's assessors decide on a verdict.

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth[edit]

In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, assessors were also members of the judiciary, sitting on the so-called kanclerz's courts or assessor's courts.

Common law jurisdictions[edit]

Fiji[edit]

Serious criminal trials are conducted by a judge sitting with 4 lay assessors.[2]

Hong Kong[edit]

S.53 of the High Court Ordinance provides that a judge in the Court of First Instance may sit with one or more assessor who holds special qualifications. It is not normal practice for the court to sit with assessors.[3]

South Africa[edit]

In serious criminal cases (such as murder) appearing before the High Court, two assessors may be appointed to assist the judge. Assessors are usually advocates or retired magistrates. They sit with the judge during the court case and listen to all the evidence presented to the court. At the end of the court case they give the judge their opinion. The judge does not have to listen to the assessors' opinions but it usually helps the judge to make a decision. The assessors may also only make decisions on facts, not on the law, which is solely the authority of the judge.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Henriksen, Petter, ed. (2007). "assessor". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 18 December 2009. 
  2. ^ Peter Duff, "The evolution of trial by judge and assessors in Fiji", The Journal of Pacific Studies, Volume 21, 1997, 189–213
  3. ^ s.53 Hong Kong High Court Ordinance
  4. ^ South African Law Reform Commission Issue Paper 26,para 2.9 and 2.10