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What Factors Affect Judges' Remuneration?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 02 September 2016
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Factors affecting judges’ remuneration vary widely by country and regions within a country. Judicial salaries are set by legislators in most cases, but many variables exist regarding bonuses and fringe benefits. Some countries set allowances for extra judges’ remuneration based on performance or levels of responsibility. Other areas use formulas to pay judges a percentage of salaries paid jurists serving in higher courts.

In the U.S., each state legislature determines the amount of district court judges’ remuneration based on several factors. Lawmakers look at competition for competent judges in other states and the need to retain experienced jurists. They might consider what private attorneys make, along with other professionals, to come up with fair salaries. Most states use cost-of-living indicators to approve increases in judges’ remuneration, and pay extra for years of service.

Officials in some countries retain the ability to modify pay for judges by increasing or decreasing their earnings as needed. Other nations, such as Croatia and Romania, cannot reduce pay, but may increase wages when necessary. In France, judges’ remuneration undergoes annual review by the government before adjustments might be made. Ireland relies on official reports compiled by a committee that reviews earnings of all public employees.

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The type of court and level of responsibility might be used to set judicial salaries, along with the jurist’s position in that court. A chief justice in U.S. state or federal supreme courts typically earns more than his or her peers. District court judges in some states are paid a percentage of the salary of appellate court judges. Longevity pay rates could involve a monetary allowance each month or a percentage based on years of service.

Bonuses and benefits also depend on the country or state where a judge works. Some states consider perks, such as expense accounts, housing allowances, transportation expenses, and other benefits when setting judges’ remuneration. In Belgium and Cyprus, judges have the use of a vehicle and chauffeur, which is available for personal and business use in Cyprus but limited to professional use in Belgium. Some judges in the European Union also receive meal allowances and a lump sum payment at the end of their judicial careers.

Judges in Malta might enjoy more perks than judges serving in other regions. Home telephone service with unlimited calls represents a benefit in addition to regular judges’ remuneration. Mobile phone services, home Internet service, and paid subscriptions to three newspapers represent other fringe benefits for these judges.

The population of an area and the number of courts might factor into judicial salaries because they typically affect a judge’s caseload. Governing bodies might also consider health benefits, life insurance benefits, and the amount of paid leave when setting annual salaries. Some regions also consider ethics laws that prohibit a judge from earning outside income.

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