The 5 Best Countries for Judicial Independence and Rule of Law

Compiled from the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, this list ranks the top five countries with the highest adherence to the rule of law from the perspective of its citizens or residents. 113 countries and their jurisdictions are considered when compiling this list.

There are eight factors that are taken into consideration when compiling the WJP Rule of Law Index and they are: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, openness of governments, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice systems.

The first factor measures the effectiveness of the institutional checks on government power as well as the extent of smooth transitions of power. It is the same group of Scandinavian countries that are also highly lauded as corruption-free regions (the absence of corruption is the second measure on the index) that score highly on both measures. Singapore scores highly on the second measure as well as New Zealand (the world’s least corrupt country in the world).

The third measure is that of the openness of governments which measures the quality of information published by the government as well as the government’s willingness to listen to specific complaints from the public. Along with the usual suspects, Estonia and the UK score surprisingly high on this measure.

The measure of fundamental rights is the measure of the extent of freedom of basic rights of citizens such as speech, belief, privacy, association, etc. A noteworthy event in this measure is that the USA measures a lowly 21st in this ranking. The measuring of order and security is the measure of the prevalence of crime and violence in the country.

This is when things get interesting as the Scandinavian countries skid down and Singapore occupies the top spot. Singapore also occupies the top spot in the next measure which is that of regulatory enforcement.

The civil justice systems should be accessible, affordable, devoid of discrimination to be highly lauded by the WJP Rule of Law Index. In this regard, Netherlands scores highly followed closely by Germany and Singapore. Lastly, the criminal justice system is measured with Finland topping the list followed closely by Norway. The US and Canada are both rather abysmally ranked out of the top ten.

The lowest ranking countries with the worst judicial systems are Venezuela, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Cameroon. Russia is ranked precariously low as well as mostly African and Asian countries that are not known for upholding civil rights of its citizens.

Perusing through the report, it becomes apparent to me that the countries with the highest incomes score higher on the overall index. The absence of corruption also signals a country’s ability to keep its judiciary system as sound and fair. Here is the list of the top five best countries for judicial independence and rule of law:

5. The Netherlands

best countries for rule of law Netherlands

The Netherlands have a transparent court system. The International Criminal Court is in The Hague and in keeping with its lofty standards, the country adheres to high tribunal standards in its regular judicial system as well.

The country has relatively few judges with about 14 per 100,000 residents and it took on average of 87 days to handle a trial in the country. A small percentage of citizens believe that the Dutch judicial system is susceptible to external influence, however.

4. Sweden

best countries for rule of law Sweden

The Swedish courts’ operations are governed by an executive branch of the government, the Ministry of Justice. However, the courts are independent to pass judgement on their own without any intervention from external influencers. The courts uphold the highest levels of transparency for its citizens and another noteworthy aspect of the Swedish justice system is its criminal reform outlook.

Nordic countries like Sweden differ from America in that their prisons are less about penitence and more about rehabilitation. Swedes believe that it is incorrect to punish its prisoners because the imprisonment is punishment itself and with this positive outlook, the Swedes have been able to reduce its incarceration rates.

3. Finland

best countries for rule of law Finland


This country operated with a slightly complex three-tier, dual court system. The dual court term refers to the two hierarchies of courts in its system. Like Sweden, a centrally administered body of the government handles its courts’ operations, the Ministry of Justice. But where it differs from Sweden is that it can enforce sentences as well as draft legislation. There is a big link between the judiciary and the executive branches of the government.

The Constitution of Finland does ensure that the courts are still independent and there are many provisions in said Constitution to protect its autonomous judges. Because Finland is a “consensus democracy,” therefore every decision is consulted amongst its many stakeholders that would be affected by changes. As a result, Finnish citizens feel included in the judicial system and have high levels of trust in it. As mentioned earlier, Finland ranks highest in the criminal justice system measure used to compile this list.

2. Norway

best countries for rule of law Norway

Another Scandinavian country on this list, this country’s judiciary is independent of both the legislative and the executive branches of its government. There are many positives in the Norwegian legal system, namely its exemplary prisoner reform program (like Sweden) and the free legal counsel access to everyone for civil cases.

1. Denmark

best countries for rule of law Denmark

Denmark’s citizens have a complex relationship with their governing powers with more people distrusting their Parliament but most of them trusting their judiciary system. Since the 50s, Denmark’s legal system has undergone many reforms with the major makeover coming from the absolute independence of its judicial system from the country’s legislative branches.

Since the major overhaul of its judicial system, Denmark continues to innovate by adding more courts to its judicial structure to better meet its citizens’ needs. The Danes opted to remove the dependence of its courts from the Ministry of Defense, the government body that oversaw its operations prior. Thus, it is safe to assume that amongst the Scandinavian countries, Denmark has the most free-standing legal system.

There are other complex facets of the Danish legal system, namely because of the existence of Review Boards and the Special Courts. Their judges are heavily scrutinized and all of their records are made available to the public to ensure absolute transparency in all matters.

Nomad Research Team
Last updated: Jul 17, 2020 at 5:08PM

Start Your Offshore Journey Today

The Nomad Capitalist team has helped hundreds of people create and execute holistic offshore plans to help them legally reduce their taxes, become dual citizens, and live the Nomad Capitalist lifestyle of success

Start Your Offshore Journey Today

The Nomad Capitalist team has helped hundreds of people create and execute prolific offshore plans to help them legally reduce their taxes, become dual citizens, and live the Nomad Capitalist lifestyle of successWould you like to be next?

Get Our Latest Offshore Strategies

Join our email list and we’ll send our best articles, videos and exclusive content right to your inbox. 

Its Free.

Read this next..


  1. Mahadi

    As a lawyer in London we would have thought UK ranked the top position for its highest standards and brilliant legal minds…It is an interesting article, good work 🙂

    • alex

      As a self represented person (for over a decade) I’d say the “British” adversarial legal system is one of (if not the most) corrupt legal systems in the universe!! So I disagree with you mate!!

      • David

        agree with u, Alex

  2. KingFred Chisanga

    Very interesting reading indeed.

  3. Clarence Darrow

    CANADA’S absence is not surprising at all. Most of the provinces have gutted their legal aid programs, there are more self represented individuals in Canadian courts than ever before, clogging up the system, it’s a mess.

  4. Waldo Kaleel

    some truly interesting points you have written.

  5. Stefan

    Thank you for your post. Have to disagree though. Denmark’s justice system is a relic of 1944 occupation era. The court can and will find you guilty based on emotions without the burden of evidence. Human rights are a foreign concept to Danish courts.

  6. Jess pierson

    I would have guessed the same, considering what America deems (justice) the bbc has done a phenomenal job being notably humble in its practice, and having to turn a cheek to such ignorance practices thatAmerica has boasted. For 100 years. America is an overwhelming over rated society with no sense of belief value, moral, or acceptable standards. Raise your glass if your not proud to be an American. I do every day. Thank you

  7. Joseph Thomas

    I live in india. I have seen very many innocents wrongly convicted and incarcerated.It’s a great relief to learn from
    this article that 1.3 billion Indians or an equal number of Chinese are not alone in suffering under the arbitrary power of corrupt ,brutal bureaucracy and governments.It’s shocking that the entire human race excepting a few millions in the the European countries are all at the receiving end of not only civil rights ,but even human rights violations.It is absolutely a gross travesty of justice.
    I am afraid the world organisations like the United Nations has no teeth and lost its way from the principles of its founding fathers.
    The western christian nations unlike in the 20th century lost its credibility and spirituality.It’s time to forget the latest trends of ‘Nationalism’of Donald trump,Theresa May and their ilk. Some initiatives are required to mend their ways and start doing things to avert or minimise human misery.

  8. Reena

    denmark justice system is highly unfair. They go by emotions and tears. They simply ignore Strong evidences., on which the case should be judged

  9. Nayan sai

    India is corrupt country with poor judiciary system. Nobody can expect justice here.

  10. gregory jones

    given the Assange case it is hardly surprising that the Uk ranks low, it even enshrines the right of MPs to ignore their constituents in law. the idea that UK judges are independent is a huge joke.

  11. lava

    justice cannot only be given by the crime commited by the criminal…..but also there has to be a grave reason behind their doing…..his mentality, psycology, his past….etc…. and instant justice cannot be justified…….death note ep-1 ending

    watch demon slayer season 1, then u will understand why…

    and thats the reason why i like indian way of judiciary…..

  12. lava

    it does not mean our judiciary system is correct…..there are a lot of potholes cause after all we are not gods….


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.