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Basic Facts about the Country

Membership of the European Union

1 May 2004

Membership of the Council of Europe

30 June 1993

Entry into force of the European Convention on Human Rights

18 March 1992

Basic Facts about the Judiciary

Budget per inhabitant

Number of professional judges per 100,000 inhabitants


Tiers in the ordinary court system


District Courts


Regional Courts


High Courts


Supreme Court


Supreme Administrative Court


Constitutional Court


  • Constitutional Court justices are appointed by the president of the republic; such appointments require consent of the Senate of the Parliament.
  • The president of the republic also picks the president and two vice presidents of the Constitutional Court from among already appointed justices. This decision is fully discretionary, and does not require the Senate’s consent.
  • The term of office of justices of the Constitutional Court is ten years. The Constitution is silent on whether the term is renewable, but it has been interpreted as allowing a renewable term. The Constitution does not specify any upper age limit.
  • Constitutional Court justices cannot be removed from office. Only in exceptional cases (for example, a serious disciplinary offence), can the Plenum decide on the termination of a justice’s office in special disciplinary proceedings. The tenure terminates automatically in the event that a justice is convicted of an intentional criminal offense or if they decide to resign.


The Constitutional Court has jurisdiction:

  • to annul legislation and other acts in conflict with the constitutional order;
  • over constitutional complaints by the representative body of a self-governing region against an unlawful encroachment by the state;
  • over a constitutional charge brought by the Senate against the president of the republic;
  • to decide on a petition by the president of the republic seeking the revocation of a joint resolution of the Assembly of Deputies and the Senate;
  • to decide on the measures necessary to implement an international court decision binding on Czechia;
  • to determine whether a decision to dissolve a political party or other decisions relating to the activities of a political party are in conformity with constitutional acts or other laws; and
  • to decide concerning a treaty’s conformity with the constitutional order prior to the ratification of that treaty.



  • The prosecutor general is appointed and recalled by the government on a proposal from the minister of justice.
  • Prosecutors are appointed to office for an indefinite term by the minister of justice on a proposal from the prosecutor general

Gender breakdown of judges

All instances


Supreme court

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Judicial Governance

Type of governance system

Ministry of justice model

Ministry of Justice

  • Central body responsible for administering courts

Court Presidents

  • The minister of justice appoints district court presidents or proposes regional and high court presidents to the president of the republic. Since January 2022, the selection committee is in charge of the process of selecting court presidents.
  • Court presidents are key players shaping judicial careers (information asymmetry works to their advantage, as does the high turnover of ministers of justice).
  • Informal networks of court presidents: The college of the presidents of the eight regional courts (meeting four times a year) and the trinity of the three top court presidents (the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court and the Constitutional Court)

Judicial Boards

  • Composed of three to five judges of the given court, elected by their peers for a five-year term
  • Established at larger district courts, regional courts, high courts, the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Administrative Court.

Selection Committees

  • Judges make up the majority of the Committee for Selection of Judges, consisting of five members. Two of the members are employees of the Ministry of Justice, two are judges appointed on the proposal of a president of the respective regional court, and one is a judge appointed on a joint proposal of the presidents of the Supreme Court and Supreme Administrative Court.
  • The Committee for Selection of Court Presidents has five members; its composition varies, depending on the instance of the court, but, in general, one member is a deputy minister of justice, one is an expert on the organisation of courts, and three are court presidents

Disciplinary panels

  • Mixed composition, three judges and three members of other legal professions, functioning under the Supreme Administrative Court (functioning since 2008).The panel is composed of one judge from the Supreme Administrative Court, one judge from the Supreme Court, one judge from a regional or district court, one attorney, one state prosecutor, and one academic (picked by the deans of law schools).

Judicial Academy

  • Led by the director of the Judicial Academy, appointed by the minister of justice and the Board of the Judicial Academy, which determines the content of the education provided by the Academy
  • The Board has 15 members and is composed of judges and public prosecutors, who must make up the majority of the members, and persons from other legal professions, such as academics, advocates, or notaries

Judicial association

  • The Judicial Union (Soudcovská unie) is a professional association of judges that claims to represent about one-third of Czech judges, mostly from lower courts. It aims to protect judicial independence, secure the continuous education of judges, and represent the interests of judges more generally. Furthermore, the Judicial Union aims to promote modern models of court administration, and has become a vocal supporter of the judicial council model.

Distribution of Responsibility

Court Presidents
  • De facto selected judicial candidates until a June 2021 reform that gave this power to selection committees
  • Have a say in judges‘ appointments, secondments, and promotions (de facto)
  • Decide on the assignment of judges to panels
  • Decide on the assignment of cases to judges
  • May sit on the selection committee that selects court presidents
  • Initiate disciplinary proceedings (in practice, they do it more often than the Ministry of Justice)
  • Have managerial powers regarding their courts, ranging from the recruitment of court staff and controlling the court’s budget, to creating rules for case assignment, assigning judges to panels, and selecting judges for grand chambers at top courts
Judicial Boards
  • Give opinions on the promotion and secondment of judges at a given court, the court’s case load, and the system of case assignment
  • Court presidents are not formally bound by the judicial boards‘ advice. The strength of a board depends on the personality of the respective court president
Selection Committees
  • Select judicial candidates through open competitions (from January 2022 on)
  • Select district/regional/high court presidents, through open competitions (from January 2022 on)
Disciplinary Panels
  • The panels can impose disciplinary sanctions on judges – reprimands, salary reductions, dismissals.
  • The decisions on the imposition of disciplinary sanctions cannot be appealed.
  • Proceedings can be triggered by the minister of justice, court presidents or the president of the republic
Judicial Academy
  • Prepares and educates future judges, and provides continuing education for current judges and other persons serving in the judicial system (clerks, advocates, notaries, public prosecutors etc.)
  • Organises management education courses for court presidents
Ministry of Justice
  • Presents judicial candidates selected by a selection committee to the president of the republic for appointment (since January 2022)
  • Proposes high and regional court presidents (picked by the selection committee) for appointment to the president of the republic.
  • Appoints district court presidents (previously on the proposal of the president of the regional court, from January 2022 on, the selection is being done by the selection committee) for seven years
  • Initiates disciplinary proceedings.
  • Decides on promotions and secondments (through consultations with court presidents)
  • Prepares the budget for the judiciary


President of the Republic
  • Formally appoints judges: Until 2021, judges were pre-selected by court presidents and nominated by the minister of justice. Since 2021, the selection is being done by selection committees, and nominations by the minister of justice
  • Initiates disciplinary proceedings
  • Appoints the Supreme Court president for a term of ten years
  • Appoints presidents of high and regional courts, on the proposal of the minister of justice, for a term of seven years
  • Adopts the budget
  • Adopts relevant legislation


Discretionary powers of the political actors as regards judicial careers

In Czechia, the president of the republic appoints candidates chosen by selection committees as judges, a change from the informal process that was mainly controlled by court presidents before the June 2021 reform. The president rarely rejects proposed candidates, but there have been exceptions. For example, in October 2022, then-President Miloš Zeman declined to appoint two former prosecutors as judges, without providing any written justification, as required by the Supreme Administrative Court.


The president of the republic needs the Senate’s consent for appointing Constitutional Court justices, but has sole discretion in appointing the president and two vice-presidents of the Constitutional Court from the justices selected. No specific legal criteria guide these choices. The Constitutional Court president represents the Court externally, performs administrative work, appoints the chairpersons of panels of the Court, distributes caseloads among panels, calls meetings of the plenum of the Court, and fixes the agenda for and chairs its meetings. The Constitutional Court president also names and recalls law clerks of constitutional court justices, on the basis of proposals from those justices. Such an accumulation of responsibilities raises concerns about potential misuse of power.


In 2023, seven Constitutional Court justices, including the president of the Court, saw their ten-year mandates expire. Such mass replacements can affect the Court’s independence. President Zeman’s attempt to appoint a new president of the Constitutional Court before his own term ended in March 2023, and months before the expiry of the sitting Court president Pavel Rychetský’s mandate, was deemed unconstitutional by experts, and did not occur.


In June 2023, the new Czech President, Petr Pavel, appointed three new members of the Constitutional Court (Josef Baxa, Jan Wintr, and Daniela Zemanova). None of these appointments were controversial in terms of the quality of candidates or whether they were political. One of the new appointees, Josef Baxa, eventually became the Court president. Kateřina Ronovská, appointed on 4 August 2023 as a Constitutional Court justice, also became a vice president of the Court. Another judge, Veronika Křesťanová, joined the court in August 2023. The president did, however, put on hold the appointment of Robert Fremr, even after he received Senate approval, in connection with accusations about his activities as a judge during the communist era. Fremr, currently vice president of the Prague High Court, eventually turned down the nomination. These practices reveal that the risk of political abuse of power and discretion is present, and could materialise in the future but, in practice, appointments are mostly merit-based and not overly political.

Risks for the internal independence of judges

Court presidents have acquired significant formal and informal powers in judicial selection and careers, and could misuse these powers, potentially undermining regular judges’ independence. Despite some changes implemented to limit their influence, court presidents remain central figures in the justice system. Judicial boards created in 2002 were intended to introduce more democratic processes, but lacked binding authority over court presidents. The establishment of the selection committees meant that the court presidents would no longer be informal gatekeepers to the judiciary. Court presidents may, however, still be able to exert influence indirectly, for example by becoming or proposing members of those committees.


The introduction of an independent judicial council, in line with the Council of Europe recommendations, would shift some of the powers from the court presidents to a collective body. This initiative lacks sufficient political support, however, with concerns about judicial corporatism and elitism.


Limited terms of office for court presidents were introduced to avoid the accumulation of excessive power and influence in their hands. A 2010 Constitutional Court decision declared the introduction of limited terms for court presidents and the application of limited terms on incumbent court presidents to be constitutional. It also struck down the provision that allowed the reappointment of the same court president for a second term. This meant that all then-incumbent court presidents were removed.

Flaws of judicial selection

Czechia established judicial selection committees (the law in question entered into force in January 2022); these are bodies with a majority of judge members that select judges through an open competition. The goal of this reform was to make the decision-making more structured, uniform, and transparent.


Prior to the reform, court presidents handpicked judges. The processes differed from one court to another – some were more transparent than others. Some court presidents were more willing to use open, competitive procedures than others. This method shielded selections from political interference, but provided fertile ground for favouritism and selection based on criteria other than merits. Arguably, it discouraged qualified candidates from other legal professions from seeking judicial careers, due to the uncertainty involved (alongside the fact that the process has five phases, including a judicial exam, the selection of candidate judges, and the trial period for candidate judges, which precede their appointment as judges proper). Due to the likely personal loyalties of selected judges to the relevant court presidents, the independence of appointed judges could also be endangered. At least on paper, the above-mentioned reform limits court presidents’ influence in judicial selections, reduces the risk of internal pressures or dependencies, and may enhance the section process’ legitimacy.


The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) positively evaluated the reform in March 2023, noting features such as written justifications for candidates’ grades and the possibility of judicial appeal. Civil society organisations still reported flaws, however. The Ministry of Justice is preparing amendments to the decree to address practical issues that have emerged in the application of new procedures. At this point, it is hard to say whether the establishment of selection committees has eliminated court presidents’ informal influence over selection processes.

Flaws in disciplinary processes

Currently, there is no avenue for appealing decisions made by disciplinary panels. Although a reform aiming to introduce this option was initiated, it was interrupted due to the end of the parliamentary term. The new government formed after the October 2021 parliamentary elections re-introduced the reform, which is still pending.


The Chamber judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the Grosam case of 23 June 2022 highlighted concerns about the independence and impartiality of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Administrative Court. The applicant worked as an enforcement officer and faced disciplinary punishment. By a four-to-three majority, the ECtHR Chamber concluded that the Disciplinary Chamber that had heard and decided the applicant’s case could not be considered to be “independent“. In reaching this conclusion, the Chamber raised issues with the lack of transparency in appointing lay members of the Chamber (constituting two-thirds of its members). For the Chamber, the system of nomination to the lists from which lay members were drawn was problematic. Additionally, the Court noted that lay members worked and received salaries outside of their work for the Chamber, which could endanger their independence and impartiality.


Three dissenting judges (Tim Eike, Pauliine Koskelo, and Erik Wennerström) argued that the Chamber majority in Grosam exceeded its competence by examining matters not raised by the applicant before domestic courts, engaging in an abstract review of domestic law and addressing issues that had no bearing on the case in question. The Grand Chamber shared this reasoning, and declared the application inadmissible, thereby reversing the Chamber’s ruling. It did not have a chance to reflect on the substantive reasoning of the Chamber.


The Chamber’s reasoning was problematic for Czech commentators, who suggested that the Chamber‘s approach was reinforcing an extreme view that only judges should decide on disciplinary matters concerning legal professions, because members of other legal professions or lay judges are never able to meet the standard of independence. They also pointed out that imposing transparency and other requirements at the pre-selection stage would mean virtually any selection of judges by political bodies would violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

National court challenging the primacy of EU law and/or authority of supranational European courts

The Czech Constitutional Court (CCC) has been rather hesitant in applying EU law, often asserting that it falls outside the scope of constitutional review. Consequently, it also has not made any preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The CCC monitors ordinary courts to ensure they submit such references when required, however, basing this oversight on the Czech Charter as part of the right to a fair trial and the right to a lawful judge. This approach aligns with the CCC’s opinion that it only checks constitutionality, not EU conformity. All this being said, in a couple of exceptional instances, the CCC has stepped outside of this role. In cases typical for EU law (consumer or workers protection), some judges have used the EU Charter as a point of reference. In a plenary judgment, the CCC even suggested it might consider making a preliminary reference, indicating inconsistency in its stance on applying EU law.


Similar to other constitutional courts (and very much inspired by the German Bundesverfassungsgericht), the CCC has developed doctrines of constitutional review of EU law. Whenever it perceives a contradiction between EU law or a CJEU ruling and the Czech Constitution, it can employ the constitutional identity review or the ultra vires review. The CCC has used the ultra vires review in the Slovak pensions saga. Importantly, this was an isolated case, and it arose because of a conflict at the national level – between the CCC and the Supreme Administrative Court. Before this incident, the CCC had a reputation for being EU law-friendly. The EAW case and the Sugar Quotas saga from earlier years are examples where it aligned national (constitutional) law with EU law.

Slow digitalisation of the justice system

The European Commission pointed out in its 2023 Rule of Law Report that Czechia‘s progress on the digitalisation of justice continues to be slow.

Danger of politicisation/lack of guarantees of prosecutorial independence

The Czech prosecutor general’s current vulnerability to dismissal by the government, based on a proposal by the minister of justice and without providing reasons, jeopardises prosecutorial independence. In its 2022 Rule of Law Report, the European Commission urged the Czech authorities to introduce safeguards for the dismissal of the prosecutor general and other chief prosecutors. In June 2023, the draft law amending the process of appointing and dismissing prosecutors, including the prosecutor general, was submitted to the Parliament. The draft law allows for governmental dismissal of the prosecutor general, but only in cases of a gross breach of duties or grossly inappropriate behaviour undermining confidence in the prosecution service and its reputation. The draft law allows the prosecutor general to challenge the dismissal before the Supreme Administrative Court. Additionally, it sets eligibility requirements for prosecutor general candidates, such as at least ten years of legal experience, including at least six years as a public prosecutor. The draft envisages a non-renewable, seven-year term of office for the prosecutor general, aligning Czech legislation with European standards.


The European Commission concluded that, while the proposed reform constituted an improvement on previous drafts, European standards called for greater clarity in the conditions of premature dismissal, an expert body’s ex ante opinion as to whether there are sufficient grounds for dismissal, and a fair hearing of the prosecutor general in dismissal proceedings.

Positive Developments & Achievements

Czechia did not establish a judicial council in line with the Council of Europe’s recommendations, in contrast to other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. While political actors still retain powers related to judicial careers and court administration, they have not, thus far, significantly abused those powers to the detriment of judicial independence. Under the current set-up, the judiciary maintains some self-governance, in the sense that judges (in the past, court presidents – currently, judge members of the selection committees) act as gatekeepers to the judiciary. Court presidents decide de facto on judicial secondments and promotions as well. Despite being appointed by the minister of justice, they have managed to achieve considerable autonomy from political actors. Experts attribute this emancipation to court presidents’ holding office for much longer than ministers, and acquiring a better overview of the internal workings of the judiciary, so that this information asymmetry ultimately works to their advantage.

While the concentration of powers in the hands of court presidents remains a potential risk, various developments, such as, for example, the establishment of judicial boards and selection committees, have aimed to reduce their informal influence and to democratise governance.

According to the data in the 2023 EU Justice scoreboard, the perceived level of independence has consistently improved in recent years. A Eurobarometer survey from 2023 revealed that 65 per cent of the general population and 60 per cent of companies perceive the level of independence of courts and judges to be fairly high or very good.

The efficiency of proceedings in civil, commercial, and administrative cases has improved over time. The estimated length of proceedings has gradually decreased. The time needed to resolve administrative cases has considerably dropped compared to previous years, possibly due to the transfer of judges from other branches to administrative chambers. New judges have also been appointed to handle administrative cases.

Czechia stands out as one of the countries better complying with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.

Rankings and Surveys

Expert Recommendations

European Commission, Rule of Law Report, 2023

Overall, concerning the recommendations in the 2022 Rule of Law Report, Czechia has (made):

  • Some progress on taking forward the reform of the prosecution service retaining the original aim to introduce safeguards for the dismissal of the Prosecutor General and other chief public prosecutors, taking into account European standards on the independence and autonomy of the prosecution.


On this basis, and considering other developments that took place in the period of reference, and in addition to recalling the commitments made under the national Recovery and Resilience Plan relating to certain aspects of the justice system and the anti-corruption framework, it is recommended to Czechia to:

  • Continue to advance the reform of the prosecution service retaining the original aim to introduce safeguards for the dismissal of the Prosecutor General and other chief public prosecutors, taking into account European standards on the independence and autonomy of the prosecution
Liberties, Key recommendations, 2023
  • Complete the tasks set out in the field of digitisation of justice
  • Analyse the effectiveness of the new system for appointing judges
  • Reform the Public Prosecutor’s Office system, to make it more independent

Compliance with European Courts' Judgements

Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)

State Performance


Number of unimplemented CJEU rulings related to the judiciary

European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)

State Performance


Implementation record


(5% of total)

Number of leading judgments pending implementation Very Low

18 %

Percentage of leading judgements from the last 10 years still pending implementation Moderately Low



Average time leading judgments have been pending implementation Significant
Non-Implementation of European Courts Judgments and the Rule of Law | EIN & DRI

Judgements with pending implementation

Selected on relevance to the judiciary / rule of law

D.H. and others v the Czech Republic

The case concerns discrimination in the enjoyment by the applicants of their right to education, due to their much higher likelihood, because of their Roma origin, of being assessed as pupils with “mild mental disabilities” and thus assigned to special primary schools. The Court, examining the situation between 1996 and 1999, found that more than 50% of children attending special schools in the town of Ostrava, where the applicants lived, were Roma and that a Roma child in Ostrava was 27 times more likely to be placed in a special school than a non-Roma child.

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  Komissarov v the Czech Republic

This case concerns excessive length of the applicant’s detention pending extradition, lasting in 2016-2017 for eighteen months, as a result of delays in the asylum proceedings (violation of Article 5 § 1 (f) of the Convention).

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Palka and others v. the Czech Republic,

The domestic courts in the proceedings which ended in 2012, refused to examine proportionality and fairness in respect of the compensation awarded to the applicants for the expropriation of their land with the aim of building a motorway, rigidly sticking to the position that only prices fixed by regulation were of any relevance to its calculation (violation of Article 1 of the Protocol 1 to the Convention).

General measures: the legislation in force at the relevant time (Law no. 50/1976 on Town and Country Planning and Building Regulations) was amended. Determination of the compensation for expropriation is comprehensively regulated in Act no. 184/2006 Coll., on the Expropriation or Restriction of the Ownership Right to a Plot of Land. Currently the owner of the expropriated property is entitled to compensation amounting to the usual price of the land or building. Compensation in this respect is to be determined in a manner and at an amount proportionate to the pecuniary damage that the owner of the expropriated property incurs because of the expropriation. In addition, the price of the land or building for the purposes of fixing the compensation must be determined based on the “as-is” condition thereof, and the purpose of use at the date of filing the expropriation application. Such valuation should not consider any decrease or increase in value in connection with the proposed purpose of the expropriation.

In addition, the judgment was translated by the Ministry of Justice and published in and online database of the case law of the Court in Czech. Translated judgment and its summary have been sent to the courts of four levels of jurisdiction involved in the case.

Additional information concerning individual measures was requested in bilateral contacts on 18/01/2023.

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B.U. v. The Czech Republic,

Investigation into the applicant’s allegations of ill-treatment by police, while in detention at the Prague airport in October 2013 with a view of his expulsion, did not comply with the Convention requirements of independence and effectiveness and failed to provide for the applicant’s effective participation (procedural violation of Article 3 of the Convention).

Action plan/action report is awaited.

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Further Readings