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The 5 Best Countries for Judicial Independence and Rule of Law

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How important is judicial independence and the rule of law?

What makes a nation truly just and free in a way that protects its citizens and ensures an equal distribution of power? 

In advocating for more fair and just societies, these questions are exactly what the World Justice Project (WJP) tries to answer. 

Its Index ranks the top five countries with the highest adherence to the rule of law from the perspective of citizens.  This list considers 113 countries, with eight factors taken into consideration to quantify a nation’s ability to address social, economic, and political issues, among other things. These include the following: 

  • Constraints on government powers 
  • Absence of corruption 
  • Openness of governments 
  • Fundamental rights  
  • Order and security
  • Regulatory enforcement 
  • Civil justice 
  • Criminal justice systems.

The first factor measures the effectiveness of institutional checks on government power as well as the extent of smooth transitions of power. The second restraint analyses a nation’s level of corruption or lack thereof. 

The third measure weighs a government’s openness, which quantifies the quality of information published by the government and its willingness to listen to the public: Estonia and the UK score surprisingly high on this measure.

Other considerations, like access to fundamental rights, measure the extent of freedom and basic rights citizens enjoy, including speech, belief, privacy, association and so on. 

US citizens may or may not be surprised to learn that the US ranks a lowly 26th overall. 

The civil justice system should be accessible, affordable, devoid of discrimination and highly lauded by the WJP Rule of Law Index. In this regard, Norway takes the top spot, followed closely by Denmark and the Netherlands. Singapore ranks fairly well in this category, taking ninth place, just below Lithuania.

Venezuela, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Egypt and Cameroon are among the lowest-ranking countries with the worst judicial systems. Unsurprisingly, Russia is also ranked pretty far down, as are some African and Asian countries that are not exactly renowned for upholding the rights of their citizens.

Exploring the report, it’s apparent that countries with the highest incomes score higher overall. An absence of corruption in many developed-world economies also signals an ability to keep judiciary systems sound and fair.

However, just because a country ranks well does not mean it necessarily meets your personal needs and desires. You may enjoy basic rights in your homeland now but still want to look elsewhere and diversify your international options in case future vents take a turn for the worse.

Or maybe you just want multiple passports to ensure access to low-tax countries, better investment and wealth-creation opportunities. Whatever your reason, we’re here to help you every step of the way. At Nomad Capitalist, we help high-net-worth entrepreneurs go where they’re treated best. Apply here to learn more.

So, who takes top ranking?

5. Germany

Germany, Best Countries for Judicial Independence and Rule of Law

In Germany, the separation of powers between the different branches of its federal government helps ensure adequate checks on power. Germany gets a freedom score of 94 out of 100 from Freedom House, reflecting the government’s trustworthiness and promotion of civil rights. 

Germans enjoy civil rights and liberties guaranteed by its legal system including legal equality, freedom of movement, voting rights and much more. 

4. Sweden

Sweden, Best Countries for Judicial Independence and Rule of Law

According to the Global Edge website, Sweden has three branches of power: executive, judicial and legislative. 

It has a political executive leader, known as the prime minister, and a figurehead, the monarch of Sweden. The monarch holds no real power and the prime minister is elected every four years by parliament. 

Known for its transparent court system and criminal justice reforms, Sweden, in common with most Nordic countries, differ from America in that their prisons are less about penitence and more about rehabilitation. Sweden believes that once they go through the criminal justice system, it’s wrong to further punish prisoners because incarceration is punishment in itself. With this outlook, Sweden has been able to reduce its prisoner rates.

3. Finland

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The Constitution of Finland ensures that the courts remain independent and guarantees the autonomy of its judges. Because Finland is a consensus democracy, all stakeholders affected by the changes consult on every decision. This means Finland’s citizens tend to have a high level of trust in their political process since they directly influence it. 

The nation uses a three-tiered, dual court system divided into general and administrative courts. Each court handles different duties, which are further separated between tiers. The government operates with a system of checks and balances, with distinct branches that handle domestic and foreign affairs. 

2. Norway

Norway Top 8 Richest Countries in the World

Another Scandinavian country that scores high on this list is Norway. Its judiciary is independent of both the legislative and government branches and its legal system has many positives, such as an exemplary prisoner reform program (like Sweden) and free legal counsel access for everyone in civil cases.

Norway also ranks well above average in terms of citizen satisfaction. Approximately 87% of its citizens say they’re happy with how the government operates, higher than the average of other OECD nations. 

1. Denmark

Denmark English Speaking Country

At its heart, Denmark is a fundamentally trusting society and that quality extends from beyond neighbours to the nation’s government and entire social system.

Since a major overhaul of its judicial system, Denmark continues to innovate by adding more courts to better meet its citizens’ needs. The Danes opted to remove the dependence of its courts on the Ministry of Defense, the government body that traditionally oversaw their operations. As a result Denmark has, amongst the Scandinavian countries at least, the most free-standing legal system of the region.

Other complex facets of the Danish legal system include Review Boards and Special Courts. Judges are heavily scrutinised and their records are made available to the public to ensure absolute transparency.

Best Countries for Judicial Independence and Rule of Law: FAQs

Which country has the best rule of law? 

Denmark scores high for the rule of law and takes the top spot for regulatory enforcement in the WJP index.

Which country has the most powerful Supreme Court?

The nation with the strongest Supreme Court is India. The Indian Supreme Court can essentially nullify most of the laws and orders given by the other branches of government. 

Which country has the most civil rights?

The nation given the top score for fundamental rights by the WJP is Denmark.

Where should you go to have the most freedom? 

It depends. Some see it as freedom from government overreach, while others see it as the right to be protected from harm. Although looking at more objective measurements, many European nations rank high on the WJP list for freedom of expression and religion. 

 Go Where You Are Treated Best

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Many people assume that countries like the US are the freest nations on earth, perhaps because they constantly remind people they are.

However, the truth is that the US does not rank highly in comparison to other developed countries. According to the WJP, the US ranks 38th for fundamental rights, below small countries like St Kitts and Nevis. 

This means that, according to the criteria used in this study, US citizens do not experience the same level of fundamental rights and freedoms as might reasonably be expected of the leading Western world power and so-called bastion of democracy.

It also means the US doesn’t come close to guaranteeing the same level of government oversight and transparency that many EU members take for granted. 

The lesson in all this is that you can’t assume anything. If you want to make changes to your lifestyle, legally pay less tax and enjoy more of the fruits of your labour, not to mention personal freedoms, you have to consider other options. 

In fact, we advocate that you start planning to go where you’re treated best now. 

At Nomad Capitalist, we provide people just like you with bespoke, holistic strategies which allow successful investors and entrepreneurs to legally reduce their tax bills, diversify and protect their assets. Along the way, they even get to maximise their personal freedom and become global citizens. Why don’t you consider joining them by becoming a client today?

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