Initial training of judges in the European Union


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General description

The Spanish Judicial School has two different headquarters. The one in Barcelona, located in Vallvidrera, is the Spanish Judicial School for new candidate judges, and offers a compulsory initial training for those who wish to access the Spanish Judicial Career. The Judicial School every year has a new class of trainees comprised of around 150 judges per year.

The headquarters of the Judicial School located in Madrid offers continuous training for all judges of the Spanish Judicial Career who desire to improve or update their knowledge, both in legal and non-legal areas. Unlike the initial training, which is compulsory, the continuous training is optional, and some of the sessions are offered in different places around the country, in order to facilitate access to all members of the Judicial Career to this continuous training.

The Spanish Judicial Schools depend on the Spanish Judiciary General Council (CGPJ), which is the maximum responsible for both the initial, and the continuous training of Judges.

Access to the initial training

There are two basic pathways to access the Spanish Judicial Career

The first one is called “Access from Judge Category”. It requires to pass an exam and a selection training in the Spanish Judicial School.

The exam is held every two years, minimum.

To apply to the initial exam, the candidate must be of Spanish nationality, of legal age, without any criminal record and have a law degree.

It takes around 4/5 years to prepare the exam.

The exam consists of three eliminatory parts.

The first one is a questionnaire with 100 questions concerning knowledge of general law (10 about constitutional law, 40 about civil law, 30 about criminal law and 20 about procedural law) Each question has 4 possible answers and only one of them is correct.

The second and the third part consist of oral examinations. For the second part, specifically, one must prepare, and defend in front of the Supreme Court, subjects on constitutional law, civil law and criminal law. And in the third part of the exam, one must prepare, and defend in front of the Supreme Court, subjects on both civil and criminal procedural law, commercial law and administrative and labor law.

After the exam, there is a compulsory initial training that lasts two years. The first year takes place, for all the trainees unequivocally, in the Spanish Judicial School, which is in Barcelona. During the second year, there is a one-on-one mentoring training, in which each trainee has his/her own training with a mentor specialized in a certain area of law. During the mentoring, the trainee spends different periods with several different mentors, each of them focusing in a specific area of law: Civil, criminal, administrative, commercial, labor, family.

There is a second pathway of access to the Spanish Judicial Career that is called “Access from Senior Judge Category”. To apply, one must be a jurist with recognized competence and with 10 or more years or professional exercise. Once the merits are validated, one must elaborate a graded technical report and pass an interview. After that, one has a compulsory training period in the Spanish Judicial School, that lasts around 12 weeks, and includes a mentoring period.

Format and content of the initial training

The initial training for new trainee judges has a compulsory training, in the Spanish Judicial School, that lasts one year, and a mentoring period that lasts for another year. Both, in the Spanish Judicial School and in the mentoring, we strive to train our trainees in technical competences as well as in soft skills, in abilities and attitudes, and specially in what we call “judgecraft”.

In the Spanish Judicial School, we try to focus on a very practical way of training. It is for that reason that in our sessions we prepare the trainees to think, debate, discuss and argue. And for that we use real judicial files. We also organize mock trials with our judge trainees and lawyer trainees.

In the Judicial School we offer the trainees a preparation that is:

  • Focused: Regarding main topics such as civil law, criminal law and constitutional and EU law
  • Specialized: In topics such as administrative, labor, minors, family law
  • Complementary: In topics such as international cooperation, accounting, mass media, data protection, forensic medicine, organic law
  • Multidisciplinary: In topics such as ethics, oral expression, leadership, mindfulness, English, local languages, risk prevention
  • Short stays: In Law Enforcement Environments, in prisons, with Prosecutors, Lawyers, Court Clerks, Public Notaries
  • Stays in the European Court of Human Rights and in the Court of Justice of the European Union, as well as international activities such as Themis or Aiakos programmes.

Termination of the initial training and qualification process

The initial exam that all candidates must pass to enter the Spanish Judicial School represents 50% of the final grade.

The other 50% comes from the initial training period, divided as it follows:

  • The initial training in the Judicial School - 40%
    • 13% civil law
    • 13% criminal law
    • 7% constitutional and UE law
    • 2% administrative law
    • 2% labor law
    • 2% participation and involvement
    • 1% assistance
  • The mentoring training - 10%

In order to be graded in the Judicial School, one must have attended, physically, at least the 80% of the training period.

The evaluations in the Judicial School consist of anonymous legal resolutions that are revised, corrected, and graded by the trainers of the Spanish Judicial School.

And during the mentoring period, the mentor is the one who evaluates the candidate, considering 40 different topics related with different training areas.

With the final grade (coming from the 50% of the exam and the 50% of the initial training) the trainees are ranked. Following the order of this list, once they have finished their initial training, they can choose their first new court destiny amongst the destinies offered by the Spanish Judicial Council.

Last update: 03/02/2022

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