Continuing Legal Education Section (CLES)
As mandated by the Judicial Service Act of Bhutan 2007, the primary function of the CLES is to provide and conduct pre and in-service courses and trainings for judicial service personnel. It is to enhance the capacity of the judicial personnel and to ensure that throughout their career, they keep abreast with laws and jurisprudence, maintain the ethics of the profession and enhance the standards of the practice of law. CLES will also focus, in the future, on the professional education of lawyers that would take place prior to their initial entry to the bar by providing Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE). The mandate of Bar Council requires new attorneys to maintain their license to practice law. Therefore, CLE would assume a significant role for attorneys before they gets enrolled into the Bar.
Under this umbrella, the Section shall have two major functions:
- a) The Mandatory Continuing Judicial Education is a professional education of judicial personnel that takes place after their initial entry to the Judiciary and continue their legal education throughout their judicial career so that judges can better fulfil their obligation to dispense justice. An essential part of MCJE is also the development in the profession of a greater awareness of the responsibility of the profession to the public with respect to the administration of justice. An excellent justice system requires a combination of a fair conduct of cases, their prompt disposal, and well-reasoned decisions so as to ensure that not only must justice be done; it must also be seen to be done. For instance, continued update on the professional knowledge on the Code of Conduct and Professional Responsibilities would maintain that judges remain proficient in their work ensuring fair conduct of cases. Therefore, mandatory continuing legal education is one way to achieve professional competence.
As a part of Bhutan National Legal Institute’s mission to promote quality justice, it would routinely award MCJE credits for many of its events. The following are some of the identified subjects for the purpose of MCJE.
- Professional responsibilities and Code of Conduct
- Integrity and ethics
- Court Procedures
- Penal Code
- Appeal system
- Craft of drafting judgement
- Hearing calendar
- Registration of cases
- Sentencing guidelines/parameters
- Updates of new legislations
- Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
- Case brief/memo
- Rigzhung Courses
The Section is also responsible to frame rules and regulations and provide credit points for each of the above identified subjects. The MCJE is not only to update the judicial skills and conduct, but will serve greater purpose for the Judicial Council to recommend for the judicial appointments and transfers. Therefore, the Section will have to work in close coordination with the Supreme Court to understand their concerns and issues so as to frame the curriculum for MCJE with a changing time.
- b) Specialized Trainings
Growing economy, science and telecommunication, increasing population, and rural-urban migration pose much challenges to the judicial functioning. Unlike in the past, judiciary now receives complex cases which entail scientific knowledge and acquaintances. The judges and the judicial personnel cannot confine themselves to the conventional methods of judicial thinking. Although Bhutanese polity has been largely influenced by specific historic, cultural and religious factors, it is also imperative for a judicial personnel to move with pace of science and technology.
Science and technology demands specialized judges. For instance, Court now receive cases from corporate sector which requires a complete knowledge and understanding of corporate law. Similarly, cases on online banking, theft of Automatic Teller Machine (ATM), and interpreting cellphone data test the efficacy of judicial experts and skills. Very often, domestic violence cases involving spouses and other itimate partners often entail complex processes that require carefull consideration by the criminal justice system. Having specialized judges in the Family Court, for instance, would ensure follow-through on cases, aid domestic violence victims, and hold offenders accountable, with the assistance of justice and social service agencies, and focus on problem and not on the person. More importantly, specialized judges aim to process cases more efficiently and deliver more consistent rulings thereby gaining the legitimate public trust and confidence. If judiciary does not update with the changing environmrnt and rapid socio-economic development, prompt justice may not be achieved as expected. With no specialized judges in various field, it therefore undermines the timely dispensation of justice.
The Bhutan National legal Institute belives that all funtionary involved in justice deliverance should be provided with adequate training, human power and equipment so as to speed up the process. Therefore, exploring ways and means of specializing judges is another important task of this Section. Judges specilization is very important because specialized knowledge helps them to put right things in a right context in a judicious manner. This would also ensure timely justice, and also benefit economically in the long run. To this effect, the Section will strategies towards creating judicial experts based on their specialization in Master Degrees.
For the purpose of our success, we have categorically identified the following as specialized subjects:
i) Child & Family
iii)Criminal and Civil
v) Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
vi) Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
vii) International Law
Specialization ensures right judges are appointed for a right bench, and may produce more reasoned and practical decisions owing to their experience in the subject matter. The fact that the specialized judges are familiar with the particular area of law will frequently determine the court, at an early stage, through case management, to ensure that only the material issues are pursued and, if necessary, that discovery is tailored to the particular case. Amongst other benifits , one main advantage of specialized judge is with regard to quicker and effective decision-making process. The time that otherwise would be lost in dealing with aspects of the case in order to educate the judge will be saved, thereby shortening hearings and reducing costs for ligigants, courts administrative staff. Specialization theoretically reduces delay because judges become familiar with the case patterns and the legal issues involved in the cases regularly come to recognize fact patterns and issues more quickly and accurately than those who encounter cases only occasionally. As a result, they can control the litigants/laywers more easily, see possibilities for settlement, and write better decisions.