The Court is composed of twelve judges, appointed for life by the King from a list of two candidates proposed alternately by the House of Representatives and the Senate by a majority of at least two-thirds of the members present.
Six judges belong to the Dutch language group, six to the French language group. One of the judges must have an adequate knowledge of German. Each linguistic group is composed of three judges appointed on the basis of their legal experience (professor of law at a Belgian university, judicial officer at the Court of Cassation or the Council of State, legal secretary at the Constitutional Court) and three judges appointed on the basis of having at least five years’ experience as Members of Parliament. The Court is composed of judges of both genders, at the rate of at least one third for the least numerous group, on the understanding that this group must be represented in both the aforementioned professional categories.
Candidates must be at least forty years old. The judges may hold office until the age of seventy. There are strict rules of incompatibility with other offices, posts and professional activities. The judges of each linguistic group elect a president. Both presidents preside in turn over the Court for a term of one year, commencing on 1 September.
See articles 31 to 34, 44 to 47 and 49 to 51 of the Special Act of 6 January 1989 on the Constitutional Court for further information.
The Court is assisted by legal secretaries
Half of the legal secretaries are Dutch-speakers and the other half are French-speakers. At least one French-speaking legal secretary and one Dutch-speaking legal secretary must have a sufficient knowledge of German.
Legal secretaries are magistrates with a university degree in law and must be at least 25 years old when they are selected. They are appointed by the Court on the basis of an open competition, the terms and conditions of which are determined by the Court. There can be 24 legal secretaries at most. From January 1st 2021 onwards there are 20 of them.
The Special Act does not explicitly define the tasks of the legal secretaries. They are called upon to assist the Court in all its functions. Their main task is to draft judgments in cases before the Court, under the supervision of the judge to whom they are attached. When a new question for a preliminary ruling or a new appeal comes before the Court, they carry out an initial examination of the new case and propose, where appropriate, the implementation of a short procedure. In other cases, they draw up draft judgments on the basis of which the judges will deliberate. They also assist the Court by drafting notes, amendments or “alternative” draft judgments. Legal secretaries do not take part in the deliberations. Finally, they also carry out tasks relating to the Court's documentation, internal functioning and external relations.
See articles 35 to 39, 44 to 47, 50 and 51 of the Special Act of 6 January 1989 on the Constitutional Court for further information.
The Court has one French-speaking and one Dutch-speaking registrar. They are appointed by the King from two lists of two candidates each, presented respectively by the French-speaking and Dutch-speaking judges of the Court.
The registrars must have a university degree in law and must be at least 30 years of age and meet the requirements set out in article 41 of the Special Act of 6 January 1989.
The registrars assist the Court in the exercise of its jurisdictional function, at all stages of the procedure.
They see to the follow-up of the procedure in all cases, from the registration of these, through the notification of written proceedings and assistance at hearings, up to the co-signing of judgments, their notification and their publication.
They authenticate all official Court documents.
They assist the Court in its meetings, work and decision-making of an administrative nature.
They take part in the various commissions and working groups organized within the Court.
Registrars are responsible for the general administrative coordination of administrative services and have authority over staff. They are directly in charge of the registry service.
Under the authority of the Court and its presidents, they manage the human, material and financial resources of the Court.
See articles 40 and 41, 44 to 46, 50, 51 and 61 of the Special Act of 6 January 1989 on the Constitutional Court for further information.
The Court has its own administrative staff. It appoints and dismisses staff members.
In addition to the secretariats of the judges, the administrative staff is divided into a number of specialized departments:
- the registry. Under the authority of the registrars, the registry receives procedural documents (appeals, preliminary questions, pleadings) and ensures that they are notified to the right persons;
- the translation service. This service translates internal documents of the Court (in particular, draft judgments, documentary notes or internal reports) into French, Dutch and/or German. It also includes revisers, who ensure that judgments are proofread and checked for linguistic consistency before publication;
- the BIB-DOCU service. This service manages the Court's library and documentation. The BIB-DOCU service is responsible for monitoring the relevant legal doctrine, purchasing books and electronic sources, and managing and developing various internal databases establishing links between case-law, doctrine and cases pending before the Court. The service assists the magistrates in the handling of cases and their documentary needs;
- the data service. This service is responsible for the database relating to the Court's case law. This database systematizes the Court's case law in key words and summaries and is publicly accessible on the Court's website. The data service also ensures the publication of judgments on the Court's website;
- the IT service. This service is responsible for the management, maintenance and development of the computer technology necessary for the functioning of the Court, including databases and the Court's website.
As of today, the administrative staff consists of approximately 50 members.