Review of a decision on disqualification of a Judge: latest developments

Under Rule 15 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, any party may apply to the Presiding Judge of a Chamber for the disqualification and withdrawal of a Judge of that Chamber from a trial or appeal (on the grounds for disqualification of a Judge see Krajisnik, Decision on the Defence Application for Withdrawal of a Judge from the Trial, 22 January 2003, Judicial Supplement No. 39; see also Galic, Bureau, 28 March 2003 and Blagojevic, Bureau, 19 March 2003 of the present issue).

Once a party seeks disqualification of a Judge, the Presiding Judge of the Chamber shall confer with the Judge in question and, if necessary, the Bureau - composed of the President, the Vice-President and the Presiding Judges of the Trial Chambers - shall determine the matter.

The Presiding Judge may decide himself on the matter. If his Decision is challenged, it becomes necessary to refer the matter to the Bureau, as there is no appeal to the Appeals Chamber available from the Decision of the Presiding Judge (see Galic, Appeals Chamber, 13 March 2003, of the present Judicial Supplement). In such cases the Bureau does not act as an appellate body reviewing the Presiding Judge’s Decision but must consider the disqualification de novo (see Galic, Bureau, 28 March 2003, of the present Judicial Supplement).

Once the matter has been referred to the Bureau - either by the Presiding Judge in the first place or at the request of a party after the Presiding Judge has ruled on the matter - there can be no appeal to the Appeals Chamber (see Blagojevic, Trial Chamber II, 31 March 2003, of the present Judicial Supplement).