It is unclear how the personal data and legally protected secrets included in the case files of candidates for judges should be protected during the appointment procedure of the latter.
The Ombudsman addressed the Minister of Justice and the National Council of the Judiciary as he saw the need to investigate the matter. This was prompted by requests from citizens who drew attention to the fact that there were insufficient legal guarantees to protect personal data and legally protected secrets in procedures for selecting judges.
Let us remember that, according to the regulations, candidates for judges working as barristers, solicitors, notaries, prosecutors or judges are obliged to submit the reference symbols of the files of 50 cases they have handled. The president of the court in which the candidate has submitted the application appoints an auditing judge who, as part of the assessment of the candidate’s qualifications, examines the files of the cases he or she has handled. The candidate’s application, together with the qualification assessments and other documents, is then submitted to the NCR. The President of the Council requests the candidate’s service records and other documents from the authorities and institutions covered by the ICT system and through this system.
However, it is not clear how the personal data and legally protected secrets included in the case files of candidates for judges are to be protected.
- First: the data submitted by candidates who are barristers, solicitors and notaries is covered by professional secrecy, to which the law does not provide for an exception in the case of appointment procedures.
- Second: the files may contain documents covered by trade secret or constituting classified information.
- Third: even data not covered by any secrecy is subject to protection under the general rules.
In the appointment procedure, the handling of the files submitted by the candidates is done by the presidents of the courts in which the competition for the vacant position of a judge takes place. Thus, the Ombudsman turned to the Minister of Justice as the body exercising administrative supervision over the activities of the courts, to whom the court presidents are responsible for the proper performance of their duties, the effective exercise of administrative supervision and the organisation of work.