The head of the Association of Icelandic Judges believes information regarding the stock ownership of Supreme Court judges must have been leaked to the media in order to influence the operation of the courts, and possibly to increase the likelihood of cases being retried. He stresses the importance of having Supreme Court judges explain their actions.
The RÚV news analysis program Kastljós revealed last night that six Supreme Court judges traded shares in the country’s banks, mainly Glitnir bank, before the 2008 banking collapse. It was suggested in the program that a Committee on Judicial Work may not have received the judges’ notifications about possessing those shares, although that remains unclear.
The people who are currently on the Committee on Judicial Work are unaware of the judges having reported their investments, although the judge who presides over the Supreme Court insists he did notify the committee when he inherited the shares in question. Skúli Magnússon, head of the Association of Icelandic Judges remarked, “Of course, it is a very serious issue if a public institution doesn’t keep a record of legally required notices it receives. I can’t say it any other way.”
Skúli is not of the opinion that owning the shares disqualified the judges from judging in cases connected to the banking collapse. On the other hand, he admits that the coverage is unfortunate for the image of the court system. “Clearly,” he stated, “information was leaked to the media in an effort to influence the work of the courts and possibly to open the possibility of having these cases retried.”
He added, “ What we must wait for now is that those judges, who have a role in this, simply step forward and explain to both their colleagues, judges and society whether they reported [those investments] or not. Then, whether they were disqualified to judge in individual cases or not, that’s another matter that needs to be examined case by case.”