ICC Judges Update Chambers Practice Manual

Defence team of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui in ICC Courtroom I in The Hague. Photo: ICC-CPI (file photo)
Defence team of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui in ICC Courtroom I in The Hague. Photo: ICC-CPI (file photo)

The fourth edition of the “Chambers Practice Manual” of judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been issued in both English and French.

The update of the Chambers Practice Manual, resulting from collective discussions held at the Judges’ retreat near Arnhem (Netherlands) on 3-4 October 2019 and drawing on the preparatory work undertaken by a number of judges on this issue, adds a number of specific deadlines for rendering diverse types of decisions and judgments. 

These guidelines for the timing of key judicial decisions now introduce a coherent, consistent and predictable system of timeframes regulating work at pre-trial, trial, and appeal level. They aim to achieve a significant step forward in respect of the efficiency and expeditiousness of Court proceedings.

These timeframes set out the maximum periods and do not preclude the rendering of decisions and judgements at an earlier stage. Extensions of the timeframes are limited to exceptional circumstances, requiring explanation in a public decision.

In incorporating these significant updates to the Chambers Practice Manual, the judges of the Court have built upon the pre-existing regulatory scheme to establish a coherent, consistent, and predictable system of timeframes regulating the work of all three judicial divisions, which is unparalleled amongst other international courts and tribunals. 

These timeframes serve not only the right of an accused person to expeditious proceedings as a component of his or her right to a fair trial, but further reflect the judges’ understanding of the need for efficiency, their confidence in their capacity to meet realistic time frames, and their commitment to improving the practice of Chambers, and, in so doing, the functioning of the International Criminal Court as a whole.

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