North Macedonia represents one of those countries in which the traditional method of the socialist legal tradition of securing uniform application of the law still endures, thus reflecting the resilience of these features that directly shape the current judicial culture. Not only is this mechanism for securing uniform application of the law at odds with the separation of powers and the rule of law in general, but it is also confining the individual independence of judges to a degree that seriously distorts the perception of the role of judges in developing the law. So how is it possible to still have such remnants from the previous regime after 30 years of ‘transitioning’ to a liberal-democratic system based on, among other values, the separation of powers and the rule of law? What is so controversial about the present methods of securing uniform application of the law and how are they manifesting the outdated understanding of this type of uniformity?
This paper, covering the third dimension of the judicial culture in North Macedonia, aims to provide answers to these questions by exposing the basic controversies regarding the uniform application of the law in the country. Building upon the general features of the dominant judicial culture outlined and analyzed in the first paper, here we tackle the specific manifestation of the highly problematic self-perception of judges and the role of judiciary in developing the law, which include the rather anachronous hierarchical mentality and ‘objectivity’ of law. During the process, the argumentation has been based on the research of the international standards as well as the comparative analysis of some of the other post-socialist countries and the conducted focus group with seven judges from different jurisdictions and instances in North Macedonia. The argumentation is structured and presented in three sections.
The first section discusses the general traits of the mechanism of securing uniform application of the law in the international and comparative perspective, placing it in the specific post-socialist context.
The second section deals with the ‘traditional’ mechanism for securing uniformity in North Macedonia, the principled legal opinions and the legal opinions of the Supreme Court of the Republic of North Macedonia (hereinafter the Supreme Court).
The third section analyses the (in)existence and (in) effectiveness of the existing system of appeals and the extraordinary legal remedies within the civil and criminal procedure in North Macedonia. The paper ends with a conclusion summarizing the main points and recommendations for addressing the existing shortcomings in light of the uniform application of the law.
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