(Source: Christopher Wells, Vatican News)

Pope Francis on Monday, 16 March 2020, promulgated a new law regulating the judicial system of Vatican City State.

The new norms replace the previous law, which was originally issued by Pope St John Paul II in 1987 and amended by Benedict XVI in 2008.

According to a statement from the Holy See Press Office, the new law is intended to meet the requirements for greater efficiency required by the “current historical and institutional context”.

In particular, the new law provides for greater independence of judicial bodies and magistrates dependent on the Pope.

It specifies the requirements for the appointment of judges and it simplifies the judicial system while increasing the staff of the court.

Furthermore, it provides a head for the Office of the Promoter of Justice (prosecutor’s office), and sets out a standardized procedure for possible disciplinary action against certified advocates.

The Press Office statement explains that the new law comes in the wake of regulatory reforms at the Vatican with regard to economic/financial issues and criminal law.

It is also a response to the Vatican City State’s accession to various international conventions.

At the same time, the new laws preserve the unique nature of Vatican law, which recognizes the canonical system as the primary normative source of legislation, and the primary criterion for its interpretation.

Full text of the Holy See Press Office statement on the new law:

Today, 16 March 2020, the Holy Father promulgated Law No. CCCLI on the judicial system of Vatican City State, updating Law No. CXIX of 21 November 1987 and subsequent amendment by Law No. LXVII of 24 June 2008.

In particular, adapting to the current historical and institutional context that requires ever greater efficiency, the new law:

1. provides for a better guarantee of the independence of judicial bodies and magistrates who depend only on the Supreme Pontiff who appoints them and are subject to the law, exercising their functions with impartiality and with direct recourse to the judicial police;

2. requires specific requirements for the appointment of magistrates who are chosen among university professors and in any case among jurists of evident reputation, with proven experience, judicial or forensic, in civil, criminal or administrative matters;

3. provides for a simplification of the judicial system and, at the same time, a reinforcement of the staff of the Tribunal, which is increased by one unit, also providing for a full-time and exclusive regime for at least one of the judges;

4. presents an autonomous head for the Office of the Promoter of Justice, distinct from that of the Tribunal;

5. provides for a typification, hitherto lacking, of possible disciplinary measures regarding registered lawyers.

The law in question comes in the wake of the regulatory reforms in economic-financial and criminal matters, also due to the accession to important international conventions, and, at the same time, preserves and ensures the specificity of Vatican law, which recognises in the canonical system the first source of legislation and the first criterion of interpretation.

(Source: Holy See Press Office)

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