Skip to main content

The Courts & Justice System


In a democratic society it is assumed that different interests and views are recognised and that elected representatives have both the right and the obligation to make them known. Democracy serves the purpose of enabling the public to select and change authorities in a peaceful manner.

The State

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Iceland, the state is divided into legislative, judicial and executive powers.

The President of Iceland is the head of state and is elected by the nation in a direct election.

The Althingi (the parliament) has legislative powers. The Althingi consists of 63 members in one house, chaired by the Speaker.

The Government in office has executive powers. The Cabinet consists of the President of Iceland and Ministers.

The judicial power consists of the District Courts which are courts of the first instance and of the Supreme Court.

Anyone may follow the sessions of the Althingi from the viewer platforms. Moreover, there are broadcasts of parliamentary sessions on television and on the Internet. Members of parliament may also be contacted individually.

It is a general rule applied by the district courts and by the Supreme Court that sessions shall be held in public. However, subject to certain conditions a request that proceedings be conducted in camera may be granted and moreover the judge may refuse the attendance of the public during proceedings.

The municipalities

Iceland is divided into municipalities, which are responsible for their own affairs. They are under obligation to address the tasks entrusted to them by law.

Municipalities must have independent income bases and control the price lists of their own companies and institutions.

The municipalities must engage with the common welfare issues of its residents as far as is possible and from time to time.

The meetings of city councils, town councils and local authorities shall be open to the public, unless otherwise decided.

The Association of Local Authorities in Iceland is involved, among other things, in strengthening co-operation between local authorities, developing their common interests and guarding their interests against the State and other domestic and foreign parties.