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Adopted 13 June, 1997

(Amendments and addenda as of 14 May, 2002 included)

Organic Law of Georgia on

Courts of General Jurisdiction

CHAPTER 1

GENERAL PROVISIONS

Article 1. The Judiciary

1. The Judiciary shall be independent from other branches of authority. Only courts shall exercise judicial authority.

2. Administration of justice is one of the forms of exercising judicial authority. Justice shall be administered by courts of general jurisdiction by means of civil, administrative and criminal proceedings.

3. This Law defines the system and organisation of courts of general jurisdiction and legal status of judges.

Article 2. The system of courts of general jurisdiction

1. Courts of general jurisdiction of Georgia shall consist of district (city) courts, regional courts, high courts of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics, and the Supreme Court of Georgia.

2. The system of courts of general jurisdiction of Georgia shall be unitary.

3. Military courts can be established in a state of war and only within the system of courts of general jurisdiction. The procedure for establishing and the competence of military courts shall be defined by law.

4. Special courts shall not be established.

Article 3. Defence of one’s rights in a court

1. Everyone is entitled to apply to a court, in person or through a representative, to defend his/her rights and freedoms.

2. A person can only by judged by a court having jurisdiction over his/her case.

Article 4. Mandatory nature of court decisions

1. Acts of court, as well as its rulings and requests relating to exercise of judicial authority, shall be mandatory for all natural persons and legal entities as well as central and local self-governance bodies within the entire territory of Georgia.

2. A decision of a court can be abolished, altered or suspended only by a court, in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law.

3. Failure to comply with a court decision shall be a ground for responsibility under law.

Article 5. Rendering judgements on behalf of Georgia

Courts of general jurisdiction render judgements on behalf of Georgia.

Article 6. Equality before the law and the court

1. Administration of justice is based on equality of all parties to the proceedings before the law and the court.

2. Proceedings are held on the basis of principles of equality and competitiveness.

Article 7. Independence of judges

1. Judges are independent in exercising official duties and shall be bound only by the Constitution of Georgia, international treaties Georgia is party to and law. No one can request account from a judge for a particular case.

2. While hearing a particular case, if a court of general jurisdiction finds a sufficient ground to believe that a particular law or normative act applicable to the case may, in full or in part, be incompatible with the Constitution, it shall suspend the hearing and address the Constitutional Court of Georgia. Hearing shall be resumed after the Constitutional Court resolves the matter.

3. If a court in session finds that a law or normative act is inconsistent with the Constitution and the Constitutional Court does not have jurisdiction to adjudge on compatibility of this particular law or normative act with the Constitution, the court shall render a judgement pursuant to the Constitution.

Article 8. Non-interference with activity of court

1. Any interference with independence of courts by central and local self-governance bodies, institutions, public or political associations, officials, natural persons or legal entities is prohibited.

2. Exerting influence upon a judge or interference with his/her activity for the purpose of affecting a judgement to be rendered on a particular case is prohibited and shall be punishable under law.

Article 9. Liability for a contempt of court

An action of parties to the proceedings or other persons attending a hearing constituting a contempt of court is a ground for responsibility under law.

Article 10. Language of proceedings

Proceedings shall be administered in the official state language. A person who does not know state language shall be provided with the assistance of an interpreter. Expenses relating to translation shall be paid from the state budget.

Article 11. Passing a judgement

A judge shall render a judgement unilaterally. A panel of judges shall render a judgement collectively. Judges sitting in panel shall render a judgement with majority of votes. No judge may abstain from voting.

Article 12. Public hearing

1. All cases in a court shall be heard in public.

2. A case can be heard at a closed session only when so prescribed by law.

3. Judgement in any case shall be publicly announced.

4. Audio or video recording and photographing at a court session can be forbidden only by a well-founded decision of a court.

CHAPTER 2

DISTRICT (CITY) COURT

Article 13. Establishing a district (city) court

1. District (city) courts shall be established by a decree of the President of Georgia in districts, cities that do not belong to any district and are not divided in districts, and districts of cities.

2. Territorial jurisdiction of district (city) courts shall be defined by a decree of the President of Georgia. Territorial jurisdiction of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall be defined by President of Georgia at the application of the Councils of Justice of the autonomous republics.

Article 14. A number of judges in district (city) courts

1. A district (city) court consists of at least two judges.

2. In a district (city) court consisting of two judges one of them hears criminal cases and another hears civil and other cases, except when otherwise provided for by procedural legislation.

3. In a district (city) court consisting of more than two judges, the judges may be assigned particular types of cases by decision of the Council of Justice of Georgia.

4. Number of judges in a district (city) court shall be defined by the President of Georgia at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia in accordance with procedure prescribed by law. Number of judges in district (city) courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall be defined by President of Georgia at the application of Councils of Justice of Abkhazia and Adjara respectively in accordance with procedure prescribed by law.

Article 15. Unilateral hearing of a case in a court

A district (city) court is a first instance court where all cases are heard unilaterally heard by a judge in accordance with procedure prescribed by law.

Article 16. Jurisdiction of a district (city) court

The cases that fall within the jurisdiction of a district (city) court shall be defined by procedural legislation.

Article 17. Chairperson of a district (city) court

1. In a district (city) court consisting of two or more judges, chairperson of the court shall be dismissed or appointed from judges of the court in question by President of Georgia for the term of 5 years, but not longer than judicial tenure determined by law. Chairpersons of district (city) courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall be appointed by the highest representative bodies of Abkhazia and Adjara at the application of Councils of Justice of the autonomous republic respectively and by prior written consent of President of Georgia.

2. A person shall not be appointed a chairperson of a court for a second consecutive term, except when all other judges refuse in written to be appointed chairperson.

3. Chairperson of a district (city) court shall perform the following duties:

a. Hear cases personally;

b. Manage the staff of court; appoint and dismiss staff members and other employees of the court; impose disciplinary penalties;

c. Assign cases under a district (city) court jurisdiction in accordance with procedure established by law;

d. Organise the activity of a court;

e. Meet citizens and ensure timely consideration of their applications, complaints and proposals;

f. Generalise court practice and citizens’ applications, complaints and proposals and submit conclusions to the Council of Justice of Georgia in accordance with procedure established by law;

g. Perform other duties defined by law.

Article 18. Performance of duties of a district (city) court chairperson

1. Where in a district (city) court that consists of more than two judges a chairperson is temporarily absent, duties of the latter shall be performed by a judge so authorised by the chairperson. If none of the judges have been authorised, duties of the chairperson shall be performed by a judge with the most extensive judicial experience.

2. Where in a district (city) court that consists of two judges a chairperson is temporarily absent, duties of the latter shall be performed by another judge of the court.

CHAPTER 3

REGIONAL COURT

Article 19. Regional courts of Georgia

1. Regional courts of Georgia are the Tbilisi and Kutaisi Regional Courts.

2. Territorial jurisdiction of the Tbilisi and Kutaisi Regional Courts shall be determined by a decree of the President of Georgia at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia.

Article 20. Structure of a regional court

1. Number judges in a regional court shall be determined by the President of at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia.

2. The following panels and chambers shall be established in a regional court:

a. The Panel for Civil and Commercial Cases;

b. The Panel for Criminal Cases;

c. The Panel for Administrative Law and Taxation Cases;

d. The Appeals Chamber for Civil, Commercial and Bankruptcy Cases;

e. The Appeals Chamber for Criminal Cases;

f. The Appeals Chamber for Administrative Law and Taxation Cases.

3. For the purposes of resolving matters referred to in the Criminal Procedure Code, an Investigation Panel shall be established in a regional court.

4. Number of judges in the regional court panels and chambers defined by the President of Georgia at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia. Composition of the regional court panels and chambers shall be defined by the regional court at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia.

5. When necessary, to prevent hindrance to administration of justice, a chairperson of a regional court may be assigned to participate in a hearing of a case in another panel or chamber of the court.

6. Each panel and chamber is headed by a chairperson. A chairperson may be dismissed or appointed for the term of 5 years but not longer than judicial tenure by President of Georgia.

7. Chairperson and deputy chairperson of a regional court shall be appointed from chairpersons of panels and chambers for the period of 5 years, but not longer than their term of office, or dismissed by the President of Georgia.

8. A person shall not be appointed a chairperson of a regional court or its panel or chamber for a second consecutive term, except if all other judges of that court, panels or chambers have expressed in writing that they are unwilling to be appointed.

Article 21. Competence of a regional court

1. A regional court shall hear appeals against district (city) court decisions as well as cases as a first instance court in accordance with procedural legislation. A regional court may also render decisions on matters referred to in the Criminal Procedure Code.

2. When acting as an appeals court, a regional court hears cases in chambers. When acting as a first instance court, cases shall be heard by panels, except for the Investigation Panel.

3. When hearing cases in panels and chambers, they shall consist of three judges. In an Investigation Panel, a case may be heard by a single judge when so prescribed by the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia.

Article 22. Competence of a chairperson of a regional court

A chairperson of a regional court shall perform the following duties:

a. Preside over one of the panels or chambers of the court;

b. Manage the staff of court; appoint and dismiss staff members and other employees of the court; impose disciplinary penalties;

c. Meet citizens and ensure timely consideration of their applications, complaints and proposals;

d. Generalise court practice and citizens’ applications, complaints and proposals and submit conclusions to the Council of Justice of Georgia in accordance with procedure established by law;

e. When so required under Article 20(5), assigns a regional court judge to participate in another panel or chamber of the same court;

f. Perform other duties defined by law.

g. In accordance with procedure prescribed by law, assigns cases and other materials submitted to the court.

Article 23. Competence of a deputy chairperson of a regional court

1. A deputy chairperson of a regional court shall perform the following duties:

a. Perform duties defined in subparagraphs (a) to (g) of Article 34(1) of this Law;

b. Perform duties of the chairperson of the court when the latter is temporarily absent.

2. Where a regional court chairperson and deputy chairperson are temporarily absent, duties of the chairperson shall be performed by the oldest judge chairing a panel or a chamber of the court.

Chapter 4. [Removed by amendment as of 05.03.1999]

CHAPTER 5

HIGH COURTS OF THE ABKHAZIAN AND ADJARIAN AUTONOMOUS REPUBLICS

Article 28. The high courts of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics

In Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall be established.

Article 29. Competence of high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics

The high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics: supervise administration of justice by district (city) operating within territories of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics respectively; act as first instance court; and decide on matters referred to in the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia.

Article 30. Composition of the high courts of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics

1. The high courts of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall consist of chairpersons, first deputy chairpersons, deputy chairpersons and other judges.

2. Number of judges at high courts of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall be defined by the highest representative bodies of Abkhazia and Adjara at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia.

3. In high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics there shall be presidencies as well as panels and chambers referred to in Article (2) and (3) of this Law.

4. Composition of panels and chambers of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall be defined by the courts themselves at the application of of the Councils of Justice of Abkhazia and Adjara respectively. Each panel and chamber is chaired by a chairperson elected by the high court from members of a respective panel or chamber for the term of 5 years.

5. Where circumstances under Article 20(5) are present, a member of the high court may be assigned to participate in a hearing of a case in another panel or chamber of the court.

6. Presidencies of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall consist of chairpersons, first deputy chairpersons and deputy, as well as chairpersons of panels and chambers who do not act as deputy chairpersons of the high courts.

Article 31. Chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics

1. Chairpersons of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics are elected from chairpersons of panels and chambers for the term of not more than 5 years by the highest representative bodies of Abkhazia and Adjara at the application of the Councils of Justice of Abkhazia and Adjara and a prior written consent of the President of Georgia.

2. First deputy chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of the high courts of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall be elected by those courts from chairpersons of panels and chambers for the period of 5 years.

3. A person shall not be elected a chairperson of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics or its panel or chamber for a second consecutive term, except when all other judges refuse in written to be appointed chairperson.

Article 32. Competence of panels, chambers and presidencies of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics

1. When acting as appeals court, Abkhazian and Adjarian high courts hear cases in panels. When acting as first instance court, cases shall be heard by panels, except for the Investigation Panel.

2. When hearing cases in panels and chambers, the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall consist of three judges. In an Investigation Panel, a case may be heard by a single judge when so prescribed by the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia.

3. Presidencies of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall review requests of the Prosecutor General of Georgia, chairpersons of the high courts or a prosecutor of a respective autonomous republic concerning revision due to newly discovered or revealed circumstances of valid sentencing decisions and other judgements rendered Abkhazian or Adjarian courts in accordance with procedure established by law.

4. Presidencies of high courts of autonomous republics are empowered to a render a decision on matters under their jurisdiction when a majority of presidency members are present. Decision of a presidency is passed if more than a half of attending members vote for it. Where votes for and against are equal, decision shall not be regarded valid. Decision of a presidency shall passed in a form of a resolution and shall be signed by a chairman and a secretary of the session.

Article 33. Competence of chairpersons of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics

Chairpersons of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall perform the following duties:

a. Preside over one of the panels or chambers of the court;

b. Manage the staff of court; appoint and dismiss staff members and other employees of the court; impose disciplinary penalties;

c. Meet citizens and ensure timely consideration of their applications, complaints and proposals;

d. Generalise court practice and citizens’ applications, complaints and proposals and submit conclusions to the Council of Justice of Georgia in accordance with procedure established by law;

e. Preside over presidency sessions of the high court; when so required under Article 30(5), assigns a high court judge to participate in another panel or chamber of the same court;

f. Perform other duties defined by law.

Article 34. Competence of deputy chairpersons of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics

1. Deputy chairpersons of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall perform the following duties:

a. Participate in hearings;

b. Chair panels or chambers of the court;

c. At the request or instruction of a chairperson of the high court, supervise the functioning of the staff; submit a request to a chairperson of the high court for bringing a disciplinary action against or imposing disciplinary sanctions on judges and other staff members for grave violation of internal regulations or other disciplinary misconduct;

d. At the request of a chairperson of the court, take appropriate measures to ensure technical support to administration of justice by the court;

e. Generalise court practice and citizens’ applications, complaints and proposals and submit conclusions to the court chairperson in accordance with procedure established by law;

f. Perform the duties of the chairperson of the high court during his/her temporary absence;

g. Perform other duties defined by law.

2. Where the chairperson and the first deputy chairperson of the high court are temporarily absent, their duties shall be performed by a deputy chairperson.

CHAPTER 6. [Removed by amendment as of 28.05.99]

CHAPTER 7

JUDGES. APPOINTMENT OR ELECTION PROCEDURES

Article 46. Requirements for a judicial candidate

1. Any legally capable citizen of Georgia aged over 30, with the highest education in law and at least 5 years of experience in a relevant field, who is proficient in the state language and has taken the qualification test, can be an appointed (elected) judge.

2. A previously convicted person, as well as the person, who has been dismissed from judicial office due to any ground provided for in subparagraphs (c), (d) and (k) of Article 54(1), may not be appointed (elected) judge.

3. A person, who meets the requirements specified in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article, shall be deemed a judicial candidate after he applies for a vacancy for a judicial position in accordance with rules prescribed in Article 68 of this law.

4. Once a person takes a qualification test, results of the test shall be deemed valid for an indefinite term except where a circumstance under Article 68(4) is the case.

Article 47. Procedure for taking a judicial office

1. Nomination to a judicial position at district (city), regional or Abkhazian and Adjarian high courts shall be conducted through a competition.

2. The Council of Justice of Georgia – when a judicial position is vacated in district(city) and regional courts and the Councils of Justice of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics – when a judicial position is vacated in autonomous republics respectively, shall announce in an official gazette a competition for the position within 7 days of the vacancy announcement date or not earlier than 60 days and not later than 30 days of the judicial tenure expiration date. Within 30 days of placing an announcement in an official gazette, Councils of Justice shall begin registration of judicial candidates. To participate in a competition, a candidate shall submit an application and within 7 days of his/her registration date a document certifying filing of a Property Status Declaration to the Information Bureau for the Property and Financial Status of Officials. The declaration or its contents shall remain confidential until the candidate is appointed (elected) to a judicial position, unless he/she otherwise consents or if otherwise prescribed by law. A list of judicial candidates shall be published in an official gazette.

3. The Council of Justice shall conduct a competition for judicial candidates not earlier than 7 days and not later than 30 days after expiration of judicial candidates’ registration term.

4. When selecting candidates to a judicial position, account shall be taken of their qualification test results, professional and moral reputation, professional experience and physical conditions.

5. The Council of Justice of Georgia shall propose candidates selected through a competition to President of Georgia for appointment.

6. If a judicial candidate is not appointed or selected through a competition, the Council of Justice of Georgia or, where a circumstance under paragraph 2 of this Article is the case, Councils of Justice of autonomous republics shall announce a new competition by means of an official gazette. A new competition shall be announced within three days of announcement of results of the previous competition or the date of rejecting by the highest representative bodies of autonomous republics or by President of a judicial candidate. In this case the term of registration of applicants for a competition shall be 10 days.

7. If President of Georgia or the highest representative bodies of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics do not appoint a candidate nominated by the Council of Justice of Georgia or the Councils of Justice of autonomous republics to a judicial position, the same candidature shall not be nominated to the same or a higher judicial position within six months of the date a new competition was conducted.

8. An appointed (elected) judge shall start exercising official duties only following completion of a special training course.

9. Competition for judicial candidates to the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall be held by the Councils of Justice of the autonomous republics as appropriate in accordance with paragraphs 1 to 8 of this Article.

Article 48. Appointment (election) procedure

1. Judges of district (city) and regional courts shall be appointed by a decree of President of Georgia at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia.

2. Judges of district (city) and regional courts operating on the territory of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall be appointed by a decree of President of Georgia at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia and Councils of Justice of Abkhazia and Adjara accordingly and with prior written consent of Abkhazian and Adjarian highest representative bodies as appropriate.

3. Judges of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall be elected by Abkhazian and Adjarian highest representative bodies at the application of their Councils of Justice as appropriate and on the basis of prior written consent of President of Georgia.

Article 49. Term of judicial tenure

1. The term of judicial tenure is 10 years.

2. If the term of tenure of a judge as specified in paragraph 1 of this Article expires when hearings are pending, it shall be extended until the judge in question or the panel of judges he/she is a member of delivers a final judgement.

3. If a judge is transferred to another court, before taking up a new office he/she may not be abstracted from hearings pending in the court he/she has been transferred from.

4. A judge may be transferred to a court of the same or lower hierarchy only within the term of his/her official tenure.

Article 50. Solemn undertaking

Before taking up the office, a judge who has been appointed to a judicial position for the first time shall make an oath before the President of Georgia. The text of the oath shall be approved by President of Georgia at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia. Judges of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall make an oath before the Abkhazian and Adjarian highest representative bodies.

Article 51. Conflict of interests

A judicial office is inconsistent with any other position or paid activity, except for pedagogic activity. A judge may not be a member of any political association and may not be engaged in political activity.

Article 52. Judicial immunity

1. A judge shall enjoy immunity. A criminal action can be brought against a judge, he/she may be detained or arrested, and his/her home, car, workplace or the person may be searched only with the consent of Chairperson of Supreme Court of Georgia or, when it comes to Chairperson or judges of the Supreme Court of Georgia, with the consent of Parliament of Georgia.. The only exception to this rule is if a judge is seen in the process of committing a crime; in this case, the Chairperson of Supreme Court of Georgia or the Parliament, as appropriate, shall be immediately notified thereof. If the Chairperson of Supreme Court or the Parliament refuse to give consent, a detained or arrested judge shall be immediately released.

2. The security of a judge and his/her family shall be ensured by the state.

CHAPTER 8

DISSMISSAL FROM A JUDICIAL OFFICE. RESPONSIBILITY OF A JUDGE

Article 53. Dismissal from a judicial office

1. Judges of district (city) and regional courts may be dismissed by the President of Georgia at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia. Judges of district (city) courts operating on the territory of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics may be dismissed by President of Georgia at the application of Abkhazian and Adjarian Councils of Justice.

2. Judges of high courts of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics may be dismissed by Abkhazian and Adjarian highest representative bodies at the application of Councils of Justice as appropriate and based on a prior written consent of President of Georgia.

Article 54. Grounds for dismissal from a judicial office

1. A judge may be dismissed from the office in the following circumstances:

a. Personal desire;

b. Failure to perform official duties for more than 6 months consecutively;

c. Commission of a disciplinary misconduct;

d. Occupying an office or engaging in an activity that is inconsistent with the office of a judge;

e. Declared by a court to be legally incapable or a person of restricted legal capability;

f. Termination of citizenship;

g. Entry into force of a court sentencing judgement against him/her;

h. Reaching the age of 65 (President of Georgia may, at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia, to extend the tenure of a judges serving at courts of general jurisdiction until the expiration of a judicial term specified in this Law);

i. Commission of an act of corruption as specified in Article 20(3) of the Law of Georgia on Conflict of Interests and Corruption in Public Service;

j. Failure to pass a qualification test;

k. Failure to pass special training courses under Article 69 of this law within an established term without a valid cause;

l. Expiration of the term of office;

m. Death;

n. Shutdown of the court of his/her office due to re-organisation of the judiciary system or reduction in the number of judges of the court.

2. Where a circumstance under paragraph 1(c) is the case, an application of by a Disciplinary Panel is required.

Article 541. Transfer to other judicial position or dismissal of a judge due to shutdown of a court or reduction in the number of judges

1. Where a particular court is shut down due to re-organisation of the judiciary system or the number of judges is reduced, a judge, based on his/her prior written consent and appropriate procedure under law, may be transferred to the same or lower instance court within the term of his/her judicial tenure.

2. Where in circumstances referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article transfer to another judicial position is refused or is impossible, the judge shall be dismissed from the office not later than within 3 months of shutdown of the court or reduction of the number of judges in the court. Based on his/her prior written consent and appropriate procedure under law, the judge shall be added to the reserve until the expiration of his/her term of tenure.

3. A judge who is dismissed from office under paragraph 2 of this Article shall be entitled to an amount established by law until the expiration of his/her judicial term. Based on his/her prior written consent and appropriate procedures under law, the judge may be assigned to perform judicial duties at another court.

Article 55. Abstraction from hearing a case or performance of other official duties

1. From the moment of passing a decision by a Disciplinary Panel or the Disciplinary Council on bringing a criminal action against or dismissal of a judge until the matter is finally resolved, the judge in question shall be abstracted from hearing of cases and performance of other official duties.

2. A decision on abstracting district (city) or regional court judges from hearing of cases shall passed by President of Georgia at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia. A decision on abstracting judges of high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics from hearing of cases shall be passed by the highest representative bodies of Abkhazia and Adjara at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia.

3. Abstraction of judges referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article from hearing of cases concurrently implies abstraction from performance of other official duties.

Article 56. Grounds for disciplinary responsibility of judges

Grounds for bringing disciplinary action against judges of courts of general jurisdiction, types of disciplinary sanctions, procedure of disciplinary proceedings and procedure for imposing disciplinary sanctions are determined by the Law of Georgia on Disciplinary Responsibility of Judges of Courts of General Jurisdiction and Disciplinary Proceedings.

Article 57. [Removed by amendment  as of 10.03.2000]

Article 58. [Removed by amendment  as of 10.03.2000]

Article 59. [Removed by amendment  as of 10.03.2000]

CHAPTER 9

THE COUNCIL OF JUSTICE

Article 60. The Council of Justice of Georgia

1. The Council of Justice of Georgia - an advisory board to the President of Georgia - shall be established to develop proposals for the judicial reform, select and nominate judicial candidates, dismiss judges, conduct qualification tests and perform other assignments, as provided by law.

2. The Council of Justice shall consist of 12 members. Chairperson of the Supreme Court of Georgia and chairpersons of the high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics, according to hierarchy of theirs positions, shall form part of the Council’s membership.

3. Four members of the Council of Justice shall be appointed by President of Georgia; another four members of the Council, including not more than three MPs, shall be elected by the Parliament of Georgia; one member of the Council shall be appointed by the Supreme Court of Georgia. The Parliament of Georgia shall not appoint more than two representatives of parliamentary majority to the Council of Justice.

4. Appointment to the member of the Council of Justice shall require a prior written consent of the appointee, except for the persons referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article.

5. A member of the Council of Justice may be a citizen of Georgia, who is not an MP or Minister of Justice, aged at least 25 with the highest education in law.

6. The term of office of Council of Justice members referred to in Paragraph 3 of this Article shall be 3 years. A person can be appointed (elected) member of the Council of Justice of Georgia only twice. A member of the Council of Justice shall not perform his/her duties following expiration of his/her term of office. A new member of the Council of Justice shall be appointed (elected) not earlier than 30 days before and not later than 7 days after the term of office of a respective member of the Council expires. Where a circumstance under Article 62(1) is the case, a new member of the Council of Justice shall be appointed (elected) not later than within one month after a respective member of the Council is dismissed. If parliamentary sessions are not held at that period, a new member of the Council shall be appointed (elected) at the nearest session of the Parliament.

7. Members of the Council of Justice referred to in paragraph 3 of this Article, except for Minister of Justice of Georgia or an MP, shall not hold any office in public service or a self-government body, or be involved in any paid activity. An exception to this rule is scientific, academic or creative activity. The salary of a member of the Council shall not be less than that of an MP.

8. Council of Justice sessions shall be convened as necessary, but at least once in three months, by President of Georgia or any member of the Council of Justice so authorised by President. If the President is unable to perform his duties and where there is an obligation under law to convene a session of the Council of Justice, the session shall be convened by persons referred to in paragraph 9 of this Article.

9. Sessions of the Council of Justice shall be chaired by President of Georgia or at his assignment by Chairperson of the Supreme Court of Georgia or a member of the Council of Justice so authorised by the President or the Parliament of Georgia. If there is no such authorisation, a Council of Justice session may be convened by other members of the Council of Justice.

10. Council of Justice sessions relating to matters of disciplinary proceedings against judges of courts of general jurisdiction shall be convened and chaired by Chairperson of the Supreme Court of Georgian or other person so authorised under law.

Article 61. Councils of Justice of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics

1. To ensure performance of duties under this Law in Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics, the councils of justice of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall be established serving as advisory bodies to the President of Georgia and the highest representative bodies of Abkhazia and Adjara.

2. Councils of justice of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall be established by the highest representative bodies of Abkhazia and Adjara. Each of the councils of the autonomous republics shall consist of 9 members.

3. The structure and operation rules of Councils of Justice of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics are determined by this Law and other legislative acts.

Article 62. Dismissal of a member of the Council of Justice

1. A member of Council of Justice referred to in Article 60(7) may be dismissed from the office in the following circumstances:

a. Personal desire;

b. Transfer or election to another position based on his/her consent;

c. Inability to perform official duties for more than 6 months consecutively;

d. Systematic failure to perform or improper performance of official duties;

e. Occupying an office or engaging in an activity that is inconsistent with the office of a member of Council of Justice;

f. Declared by a court to be legally incapable or a person of restricted legal capability;

g. Entry into force of a court sentencing judgement against him/her;

h. Termination of citizenship;

i. Expiration of the term of office determined by Article 60(6) of this Law;

j. Death;

2. A member of the Council of Justice shall be dismissed by President of Georgia, the Parliament of Georgia or the Supreme Court of Georgia.

3. In addition to the grounds for dismissal as provided for in paragraph 1 of this Article, an MP or the Minister of Justice of Georgia shall be dismissed from membership of the Council of Justice due to termination of official tenure of an MP or dismissal of the Minister of Justice of Georgia as appropriate.

Article 63. Competence the Council of Justice of Georgia

1. The Council of Georgia shall:

a. Propose judicial candidates to the President of Georgia;

b. Propose nominated members of the Qualification Test Commission to the President of Georgia;

c. Decide on assignment of district(city) court judges by specialisation;

d. At the application of the Department of Courts of General Jurisdiction, determine the structure and number or court staffs, except for the Supreme Court staff,  and submit it to the President of Georgia for approval;

e. Develop the procedures of organisational operation of courts of general jurisdiction and submit it to the President of Georgia for approval;

f. Review analytical materials of court statistics;

g. Within the scope of its competence and in accordance with rules established by law, initiate and carry out disciplinary proceedings against judges of courts of general jurisdiction;

h. Hear an annual report of Chairperson of the Department of Courts of General Jurisdiction;

i. Submit a recommendation to the President of Georgia on reward of judges in as prescribed by law;

j. Develop and submit proposals regarding judiciary reform to the President of Georgia;

k. In circumstances and in accordance with rules prescribed by law, propose dismissal of a judge to the President of Georgia;

l. Perform other duties prescribed by law. 

2. Rules of operation of the Council of Justice shall be determined by Regulations. The Regulations shall be submitted by the Council of Justice to President of Georgia for approval.

3. For the purpose of logistic and technical support to the Council of Justice, the Council of Justice Staff shall be established.

Article 64. Competence of the Councils of justice of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics

Councils of justice of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall:

a. Conduct competitions for judicial candidates to the high courts of Abkhazia and Adjara, develop recommendations concerning judicial candidates to district (city) and regional courts operating on the territory of autonomous republics and submit the recommendations to the highes representative bodies of Abkhazia and Adjara;

b. Decide on assignment of district(city) court judges by specialisation;

c. Within the scope of their competence and in accordance with rules established by law, initiate and carry out disciplinary proceedings;

d. Develop and submit proposals regarding judiciary reform to the President of Georgia;

e. Perform other duties prescribed by law.;

Article 65. Decision making procedure at the Council of Justice

1. The Council of Justice of Georgia is authorised to review matters and make decisions if more than a half of its members attend the session.

2. A decision is passed if a majority of attending members vote for it.

3. The Council of Justice shall make decisions by ballot.

Article 66. Registrar of the Council of Justice

1. President of Georgia shall appoint Registrar of the Council of Justice from the persons referred to in Article 60(7). The position of the Registrar shall be inconsistent with any other public office.

2. Registrar of the Council of Justice of Georgia shall perform the following duties:

a. Ensure logistic and technical support to the Council of Justice;

b. Administer the Council of Justice Staff; appoint and dismiss Staff members with consent of the Council of Justice; appoint and dismiss other employees of the Staff;

c. Carry out preparatory activities for Council of Justice sessions;

d. Sign official documents within his competence;

e. Perform other duties prescribed by law.

Article 67. The Qualification Test Commission

1. For the purpose of organising and conducting qualification tests for judicial candidates, the Council of Justice shall establish the Qualification Test Commission in accordance with its Regulations and submit the list of its membership to President of Georgia for approval. In Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics, membership of Qualification Test Commissions shall be determined by the Council of Justice of Georgia with the consent of Councils of Justice of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics.

2. Statute of the Qualification Test Commission shall be approved by President of Georgia at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia.

3. The Qualification Test Commission shall be established not earlier than 10 days before the test date. Composition of the Commission shall not be publicly announced before final completion of the test.

Article 68. Qualification test

1. Citizens of Georgia aged at least 23 years with the highest education in law are eligible to take a judicial qualification test.

2. Rules of testing and contents of the test shall be approved by President of Georgia at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia.

3. A qualification test shall be conducted by a method of selecting one of the possible answers; if a candidate completes this part successfully, he/she shall take the second part in written. Both part of the test are related to the following subjects:

a. Constitutional law;

b. Criminal law;

c. Criminal procedure;

d. Civil law;

e. Civil procedure;

f. Administrative law and administrative procedure;

g. Human rights international documents and international treaties and agreements Georgia is a party to.

4. Results of a judicial qualification test shall be deemed invalid, if a person is not appointed (elected) judge within 7 years after taking the test.

Article 69. Special training course

1. The judge appointed (elected) pursuant to rules established by law or a person who has been assigned discharge judicial functions shall start exercising official authority only after completing a special training course at the Council of Justice Training Centre. Duration of a training course shall be determined by the Minister of Justice but it shall not exceed three months.

2. A person who has been serving as a judge for at least one year shall be exempt from the obligation to complete a special training course.

3. A conclusion on the results of the special training course completed taken by a candidate shall be issued by the Council of Justice Training Centre.

CHAPTER 10

THE DEPARTMENT OF COURTS OF GENERAL JURISDICTION

Article 70. The Department of Courts of General Jurisdiction

1. The Department of Courts of General Jurisdiction shall be established to provide logistic support to courts of general jurisdiction.

2. Chairperson and deputy chairpersons of the Department shall be appointed by Chairperson of the Supreme Court at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia.

3. Chairperson of the Department maybe dismissed before due by the Chairperson of the Supreme Court at the request of Conference of Judges of Georgia or the Council of Justice of Georgia.

4. The structure and rules of operation of the Department shall be determined in the Statute of the Department to be approved by a Plenary Session of the Supreme Court of Georgia at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia.

Article 71. Competence of the Department of Courts General Jurisdiction

The Department of Courts of General Jurisdiction shall:

a. Dispose funds to ensure proper functioning of courts and provide them with material and technical support;

b. Provide courts with appropriate buildings and facilities;

c. Provide courts with normative acts and other materials necessary for their functioning;

d. Check expenditure of financial and material resources by the courts;

e. Take other measures to provide material and technical support to courts.

CHAPTER 11

ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT FOR THE FUNCTIONING OF COURTS

Article 72. Staff of Court

1. In each court of general jurisdiction there shall be a Staff of the Court to provide support in administration of justice, to research and generalise the court practice and provide other support to court functioning.

2. A Staff of the Court is subordinated to Chairperson of the appropriate court.

3. Members of a Staff of the Court are regarded as public servant and are therefore subject to relevant legislation.

Article 73. Legal Assistant to a Judge

1. A Legal Assistant to a Judge meets with citizens, accepts their applications, prepares cases for hearing and performs other duties relating to hearings at the judge’s request.

2. A Legal Assistant to a Judge shall be a person with the highest education in law who, as a rule, has completed a three-month training course at the Judicial Training Centre or has worked as a judge, prosecutor, investigator or has at least one-year experience of working as an attorney. Alternatively, he/she may have worked as a legal advisor at the Supreme Court of Georgia, high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics or the Tbilisi City Court as well as a person who has passed a judicial qualification test.

3. A Legal Assistant to a Judge may be appointed and dismissed in accordance with procedure prescribed by law by Chairperson of the court.

4. Number of Legal Assistants at district (city) and regional courts shall be determined by the Council of Justice of Georgia. Councils of Justice of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall determine number of Legal Assistants to be appointed at counts operation of the territory of the autonomous republics.

Article 74. [Removed by amendment as of 24.12.98.]

Article 75. Secretary of a court session

Each case in a court shall be heard with participation by a secretary of the court session. A secretary of a court session shall be appointed or dismissed by the court chairperson out of those who, as a rules, have completed a training court at the Judicial Training Centre or have at least one-year experience of working as a secretary of court session.

Article 76. [Removed by amendment as of 24.12.98.]

CHAPTER 12

THE CONFERENCE OF JUDGES OF GEORGIA

Article 77. The Conference of Judges of Georgia

1. The Conference of Judges of Georgia is self-governance body of judges of courts of general jurisdiction of Georgia. The Conference of Judges consists of judges of the Supreme Court of Georgia, district (city) and regional courts, and courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics.

2. The Conference of Judges of Georgia shall defend and strengthen the independence of the judiciary, facilitate the reinforcement of public trust towards the judiciary and raise the reputation of judges.

3. The Conference of Judges of Georgia shall be guided by its Charter determining fundamental principles for the functioning of the Conference. The Charter shall be approved by the Conference of Judges by a majority of votes at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia.

Article 78. Organisational structure of the Conference of Judges of Georgia

1. For the purpose of performing the functions stipulated in Article 77(3) of this law, the following bodies shall be established within the system of the Conference of Judges:

a. Administrative Committee;

b. Co-ordination Board;

c. Disciplinary Board.

2. The Administrative Committee of the Conference of Judges shall consist of 9 members. The Committee shall be authorised to make decisions and draft acts on administration of courts of general jurisdiction. Such drafts shall be submitted to the Conference of Judges for approval.

3. Members of the Administrative Committee shall be elected by the Conference of Judges for the term of 3 years in accordance with its Internal Regulations. The Administrative Committee shall be headed by the Chairperson of the Supreme Court of Georgia.

4. The Co-ordination Board of the Conference of Judges of Georgia shall consist of governing judges appointed by the Administrative Committee and other judges appointed by the Conference of Judges for a five-year term.

5. The Co-ordination Board elects a Chairperson at its session with a majority of votes. The Co-ordination Board governing judges shall be responsible for enforcing administration policy relating to courts of general jurisdiction and implementation of relevant measures.

6. Composition, competence and rules of operation of the Disciplinary Board shall be determined by law.

Article 79. Competence of the Conference of Judges of Georgia

The Conference of Judges of Georgia shall have the competence to:

a. Elect members of the Administrative Committee and the Co-ordination Board;

b. Elect members of the Disciplinary Board;

c. Approve the Charter of the Conference of Judges of Georgia as well as Statutes and Rules of Operation of the Administrative Committee and the Co-ordination Board;

d. Hear annual reports on relevant matters by the Head of the Conference of Judges and chairpersons of the Co-ordination Board, the Disciplinary Board and the Department of Courts of General Jurisdiction;

e. Apply to Chairperson of the Supreme Court of Georgia with a request to dismiss the chairperson and deputy chairpersons of the Department of Courts of General Jurisdiction;

f. Perform other duties as required by law, the Charter and Internal Regulations of the Conference of Judges;

g. Adopt the Judicial Ethics Code at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia.

Article 80. Rules of operation of the Conference of Judges of Georgia

1. The Conference of Judges of Georgia shall be convened at least once in every six months. Unscheduled sessions of the Conference may be convened at the initiative of the Administrative Committee or at a written request by one fifth of judges of courts of general jurisdiction. Unscheduled sessions may be held only pursuant to a pre-determined agenda and shall be closed as soon as matters on the agenda are discussed.

2. Sessions of the Conference of Judges shall be public. The Conference shall make decisions by a majority of votes.

3. Other matters concerning the activity of the Conference of Judges and its structural units shall be determined by Internal Regulations of the Conference and Statutes of its units as appropriate.

Article 801. The Conferences of Judges of Courts of General Jurisdiction of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics

1. In Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics, there shall be Conferences of Judges of the autonomous republics established. The Conferences shall serve as self-governance bodies of judges of district (city) courts and high courts operating on the territory of the autonomous republics.

2. Function, organisational structure and competence of Conferences of Judges of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics are determined by law.

3. Judges of courts of general jurisdiction of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics belong to system of courts of general jurisdiction of Georgia and can be elected to the governing bodies of the Conference of Judges of Georgia.

CHAPTER 13

FUNDING OF COURTS OF GENERAL JURISDICTION AND SOCIAL SECURITY OF JUDGES

Article 81. Funding of courts of general jurisdiction

1. Courts of general jurisdiction of Georgia shall be funded from the state budget.

2. Funds allotted to each court shall be governed by a separated article of the state budget.

3. The Council of Justice of Georgia shall submit a draft proposal on funding a part of the budget of courts of general jurisdiction to President of Georgia based on application of the Department of Courts of General Jurisdiction.

4. Funds allotted to courts of general jurisdiction may be reduced as compared to funds prescribed in the previous year budget only with the consent of the Conference of Judges.

Article 82. Salaries and social security of judges

1. Social security guarantees awarded to judges shall be determined by law.

2. Salary and financial benefits of a judge shall not be less than those of a Member of Parliament. Salary of a judge shall not be reduced during his/her entire tenure.

3. Upon expiration of official tenure or reaching the pension age, a judge shall be granted a lifetime pension, which shall be equal to amount of his/her salary.

4. Paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Article shall apply to judges appointed in accordance with Articles 46 to 49 of this Law.

CHAPTER 14

SYMBOLS OF THE JUDICIARY

Article 83. Symbols of the judiciary and their approval procedure

1. Symbols of the judiciary are official distinctive signs of a judge to be developed by the Council of Justice of Georgia and approved by President of Georgia.

2. When hearing a case, a judge shall wear a special dressing. Attributes of the special dressing shall be developed by the Council of Justice of Georgia and approved by President of Georgia.

Article 84. A seal of court

A seal of court shall be engraved with the coat of arms of Georgia and title of the court.

CHAPTER 15

TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

Article 85. Measures to enforce this Law

1. President of Georgia, Parliament of Georgia and Supreme Court of Georgia shall appoint (elect) respective members of the Council of Justice of Georgia before 1 October 1999. The Council of Justice of Georgia shall be authorised to start functioning if the number of its elected and appointed members is more than eight.

2. The Council of Justice of Georgia shall ensure that the competition is announced before 15 November 1997 and qualification tests and competitions are conducted before 15 July 1998. The obligation to take the qualification tests does not apply to Chairperson of the Supreme Court of Georgia and chairpersons of the high courts of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics acting as members of the Council of Justice as well as to other members who have at least a ten-year experience of working as a judge.

3. Requirements under Article 69(1) of this Law do not apply to judges who will be appointed in accordance with this Law before 15 May 1999. The Council of Justice of Georgia shall determine rules of completing a three-month special training course by them.

4. Until the entry into force of Article 47(2)-(3) and (6), the Council of Justice of Georgia in relation to judicial vacancies in district (city) courts and Councils of Justice of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics in relation to judicial vacancies in high courts of the autonomous republics, shall determine the terms of conducting competitions for judicial positions.

5. The organisational structure and competence of the Supreme Court of Georgia, competence of judges of the Supreme Court, rules of taking qualification tests them, grounds for termination of competence before due, and social guarantees of the Supreme Court judges shall be determined by the Organic Law of Georgia on the Supreme Court of Georgia.

6. Until the entry into force of the Law of Georgia on the Guarantees of Social Security of Judges, salaries and guarantees of social security of judges shall be determined by a decree of President of Georgia.

Article 851. Logistic support to courts of general jurisdiction

Until the entry into force of the Statute of the Department of Courts of General Jurisdiction, courts of general jurisdiction shall be provided with logistic support in accordance with legislation effective before the entry into force of this Law.

Article 852. Exercise of judicial authority after the new system of judiciary is operational

1. If a judicial position at a district (city) or a regional court remains vacant after 15 May 1999, before a new judge takes the office the President of Georgia shall be authorised to confer judicial authority upon a person who successfully passed a judicial qualification test or examination according to this Law. If there is no such person, President may confer judicial authority to a person who has been dismissed from judicial office under Article 861(4) of this Law. President shall exercise this power based on a prior written consent of a candidate in accordance with rules and grounds established by law, at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia or, where the judicial position is vacated at a court operating on the territory of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics, at the joint application of the Council of Justice of Georgia and the Council of Justice of the appropriate autonomous republic. A new competition for a vacant judicial position shall be announced within 18 months of the last competition or the date of refusal by a candidate to be appointed judge. If the official tenure of a district (city) court judge appointed under this Law, does not commence on 15 May 1999, before the date of commencement of the judge’s official tenure, President may confer judicial authority to a person who has been dismissed from judicial office under Article 861(4) of this Law. President shall exercise this power based on a prior written consent of a candidate in accordance with rules and grounds established by law, at the application of the Council of Justice of Georgia or, where the judicial position is vacated at a court operating on the territory of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics, at the joint application of the Council of Justice of Georgia and the Council of Justice of the appropriate autonomous republic.

2. If a judicial position at high courts of Abljazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics remains vacant after 15 May 1999, before a new judge takes the office, the highest representatives bodies shall be authorised to extend official tenure of a high court judge who failed to pass a competition referred to in Article 46 of this Law or a qualification test under Article 861.

3. President of Georgia shall be authorised, by his decree, to confer a judicial authority of a district (city) court judge until 15 May 1999 upon a judge appointed under this Law.

4. A judge who was appointed (elected) to a Tbilisi or Kutaisi appeals court or high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics before entry into force of this Article, shall exercise judicial authority, based on a decree of President, for the entire tenure from 15 May 1999 at the Tbilisi or Kutaisi appeals court or high courts of autonomous republics as appropriate. If the judge refuses to occupy a judicial position at a regional court, he/she may be appointed (elected) to another court, except for the Supreme Court of Georgia, only through a competition.

5. Following 15 May 1999, a district (city) court judge who successfully passed a mandatory qualification test under Article 861 of this Law, upon his prior written consent and based on a decree of President of Georgia, shall exercise judicial authority in a district (city) court for the term he/she was appointed for in a district (city) court. Following expiration of this term or if a judge is dismissed before due, the judicial position at that district (city) court shall become vacant and a competition shall be announced for this position. If a judge refuses to occupy the position, he/she may be appointed to the vacant position for a new tenure only through a competition.

6. If a judge, who successfully passed a judicial test and has been exercising judicial authority in a district (city) court under Paragraph 5 of this Article, resigned before due and a new judge could not be appointed to this position through a competition, before the commencement of the authority of a new judge President of Georgia shall confer judicial authority upon the person who occupied this position before resignation. If the latter refuses, the authority shall be conferred upon a person who successfully passed judicial examination according to this Law or a qualification test under Article 861 of this Law. If there is no such person, judicial authority shall be conferred upon a person who has been dismissed from judicial position under Article 861(4).

7. A judge of an autonomous republic high court, who successfully passed the judicial test, shall exercise judicial authority in the same high court after 15 May 1999 according to Paragraphs 5 and 6 of this Article.

8. By decision of the Council of Justice of Georgia, official authority of a district (city) judge may be conferred upon other district (city) court judge. Judges of high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics who have passed a judicial qualification test may, in accordance with procedure under law, be vested with the power to perform at the same time duties of a district (city) court judge outside the autonomous republics as appropriate.

9. Before a district (city) court chairperson referred to in Article 17 of this Law is appointed, President of Georgia is authorised to assign one of the judges of the court in question to exercise the authority of a chairperson.

Article 86. Competence and organisational structure of courts of Georgia before the new system of courts of general jurisdiction becomes operational

1. The authority of the current district (city) courts, Tbilisi City Court and the high courts of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall be extended from the entry into force of this Law till 15 May 1999. The authority of current units of the Supreme Court shall be extended until the entry into force the Organic Law of Georgia on the Supreme Court of Georgia. Procedure of hearing cases pending in these courts is determined by Article 862 of this Law and procedural legislation.

2. Until 15 May 1999, the structure and the staff of district (city) courts, Tbilisi City Court, high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics as well as of the Supreme Court of Georgia until the entry into force of the Law on Supreme Court of Georgia shall be determined by the legislation effective before the entry into force of this Law.

3. Until 15 May 1999, judges of district (city) courts, Tbilisi City Court, high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics as well as of the Supreme Court of Georgia until the entry into force of the Law on Supreme Court of Georgia shall be appointed (elected) or dismissed in accordance with legislation effective before the entry into force of this Law. The Minister of Justice of Georgia or, as regards of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics, ministers of justice of the republic as appropriate, shall extend the official tenure of judges dealing with administrative and executive proceedings until 15 May 1999.

Article 861. Qualification testing of judges of district (city) courts, Tbilisi City Court and high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics

1. Judges of district (city) courts, Tbilisi City Court and high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics, who were appointed (elected) under the legislation effective before the entry into force of this Law shall take a mandatory qualification test.

2. A qualification test referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article that shall be conducted in accordance with this Law is aimed at testing the judges’ knowledge.

3. Judges referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article shall take the qualification test before 30 April 30 1999.

4. Failure by a judge to take a qualification test under paragraph 3 of this Article shall form the ground his/her dismissal. Where this is the case, the Council of Justice of Georgia shall apply to President of Georgia for dismissing the judge before due.

5. Judges referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article who passed a qualification test before 1 January 1999 shall be exempt from the mandatory qualification test.

6. The qualification test referred to in paragraphs 2 and 5 of this Article and its results shall be valid for an indefinite period for those who have passed it.

7. Article 82(2) to (3) upon it becomes effective and Article 85(6) from 15 May 1999 shall also apply to judges who have passed a mandatory qualification test and are discharging judicial authority at district (city) courts, regional courts or high courts of autonomous republics for the same term as they were appointed at district (city) courts, Tbilisi City Court and supreme courts of autonomous republics as appropriate.

Article 862. Procedure for hearing cases pending at district (city) courts, Tbilisi City Court and high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics

1. Upon entry into force of new Criminal Procedure and Civil Codes, district (city) courts, Tbilisi City Court and high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics shall stop accepting new cases on May 1 1999, except for those relating to administrative violations or Articles 949, Article 118(2), Articles 165-1751 and 2211-2216 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia (Gazette of the Supreme Council of Georgian SSR, 1961, #1, Article 11).

2. Cases that are pending at high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics, Tbilisi City Court and district (city) courts by 15 May 1999, shall be subsequently heard after 15 May 1999 in accordance with rules established in this Law and procedural legislation of Georgia.

3. All cases pending at Tbilisi City Court by 1 May 1999 shall be transferred to the Supreme Court of Georgia for distribution by jurisdiction.

4. Due to termination of official authority of Supreme Courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics, all cases pending at these courts hearings of which have started after 1 May 1999 shall be transferred to high courts of the autonomous republics or to the Supreme Court of Georgia by jurisdiction.

5. Cases filed with district (city) courts in accordance with their jurisdiction before 15 May 1999 that under the procedural legislation fall within the jurisdiction of high courts of autonomous republics or regional courts of Tbilisi and Kutaisi as of 15 May 1995, shall be transferred to district (city) courts by jurisdiction as appropriate.

6. Cases pending at the Supreme Court of Georgia hearing of which has started but have not been completed by 15 May 1999 and which, by virtue of new procedural legislation, are subject to regional courts jurisdiction, shall be heard by the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Article 863. Procedure of assigning the Tbilisi City Court judges to perform judicial duties at other courts and rules of their dismissal

1. From 15 May 1999, by a decree of President of Georgia and based on a prior written consent of a Tbilisi City Court judge who has passed the qualification test, the latter may be assigned to exercise duties of a district (city) court judge for a term he/she would serve at Tbilisi City Court.

2. Where it is impossible to assign the judge or should the judge refuse to be assigned as prescribed by paragraph 1 of this Article, he/she will be dismissed from office. Until the expiration of the term of his/her judicial authority or appointment to a new judicial position, the judge shall be entitled to salary of a Tbilisi district judge.

Article 87. Procedure of transfer of cases pending at arbitration and military courts of Georgia to courts of general jurisdiction

1. Arbitration and military courts of Georgia shall stop accepting new cases on 15 October 1999.

2. The official tenure of judges of arbitration and military courts shall be extended until completion of pending cases by them, but not later than till 25 November 1997.

3. All cases at arbitration and military courts of Georgia hearing of which started after 15 October 1997 as well as those that have not been completed by 25 November 1997 shall be transferred to the Supreme Court of Georgia in accordance with applicable procedural legislation for distribution by jurisdiction.

4. Decisions of the Supreme Arbitration Court of first instance passed after 25 December 1996 may be appealed against under a supervisory rule in the Supreme Court of Georgia and supervisory protests thereon shall be heard by the Civil Panel.

5. Resolutions of the Supervisory Panel of the Supreme Arbitration Court may be appealed against in and supervisory protests thereon may be heard by the Supreme Court Presidency only if the protests are received after 25 December 1996.

6. Decisions and resolutions of arbitration courts of the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics may be reviewed by the Supreme Courts of the autonomous republics as appropriate in accordance with paragraphs 4 to 5 of this Article.

7. An appeal from a case in which a decision was already rendered by the Presidium of the Supreme Arbitration Court of Georgia before December 25, 1999 shall not be reviewed. Exceptions from this rule are the cases in which decisions and judgements can be revised due to newly discovered circumstances.

8. The Supreme Court Presidency will hear a supervisory protest only if it relates to a case on which the Presidency of the Supreme Arbitration Court has passed a resolution after 25 December 1996.

Article 871. Hearing of cases in courts of general jurisdiction of Georgia. Procedure of completing special training courses

1. From 15 May 1999 courts of general jurisdiction of Georgia shall hear cases in accordance with applicable procedural legislation.

2. A judge appointed (elected) according to this Law shall take a special training course at the Council of Justice Training Centre.

3. Rules and terms of completing a special training course referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article before 1 January 2001 shall be determined by the Council of Justice of Georgia.

Article 872. Completion of a special training course by a Legal Assistant to a Judge in a transitional period

Legal Assistants appointed before 1 January 2000 shall, within a year of appointment, complete a special training course in accordance with applicable legislation.

Article 88. Hearing cases falling within the jurisdiction of regional courts

Until the regional courts are operational, district (city) courts shall have the jurisdiction until 15 May 1999 to hear economic disputes where the object of dispute exceeds one hundred thousand Lari. Court decisions passed under this rule may be appealed against under appeals rule in a regional court or high courts of Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Republics if the challenged decision is made by a court operating on the territory of autonomous republics.  Decisions of appeals courts may be appealed against under cassation rule in the Civil Cases Chamber of the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Article 881. [Removed by amendment as of 10.03.2000]

CHAPTER 16

CONCLUDING PROVISIONS

Article 89. Entry into force of this Law

1. This Law, except for Article 43(1) to (3), Article 44, Article 47(2) to (3) and (6), Article 69(1) and Article 82, shall become effective immediately upon publication.

2. Article 43(1) to (3) and Article 44 shall become effective on 15 May 1999.

3. Article 47(2) to (3) and (6) shall become effective on 1 January 2000.

4. [Removed by amendment as of 10.03.2000]

5. Article 69(1) shall become effective on 1 September 1999.

6. Article 82 shall become effective immediately upon the entry into force of the Law of Georgia on Guarantees of Social Security of Judges.

Article 90. List of invalidated normative acts

1. Upon entry into force of this law, unless otherwise provided for in transitional or concluding provisions, the following normative acts shall become invalid:

a. The Law of the Republic of Georgia on the Judicial System in the Republic of Georgia, dated 28 December 1990 (Gazette of the Supreme Council (Soviet) of the Republic of Georgia, No. 12, Article 391. 1990)

b. The Law of the Republic of Georgia on the Status of Judges in the Republic of Georgia, dated 28 December 1990 (Gazette of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia, No. 12, Article 389. 1990)

c. The Decree of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia on Approving the Provision on Qualification Testing of Judges of the Courts of the Republic of Georgia, dated 20 March 1991 (Gazette of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia, No. 3, Article 243. 1991)

d. The Decree of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia on Approving the Provision on Assembling and Conducting the Conferences of Judges of the Courts of the Republic of Georgia, dated 20 March 1991 (Gazette of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia, No. 3, Article 245. 1991)

e. The Decree of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia on Establishing Qualification Grades for Judges of the Courts of the Republic of Georgia, dated 20 March 1991 (Gazette of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia, No. 3, Article 251. 1991)

2. From 15 October 1997, the following acts shall become invalid:

a. The Law of the Republic of Georgia on Military Courts, dated 10 December 1992 (Gazette of the Parliament of Georgia, No. 2, Article 85. 1992)

b. The Law of the Republic of Georgia on Arbitration Courts in the Republic of Georgia, dated 23 April 1991 (Gazette of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia, No. 4, Article 313. 1991)

c. The Decree No. 170 of the Cabinet of Ministers of Georgia on Regional Military Courts of the Republic of Georgia, dated 26 February 1993 (the Decrees of the Cabinet of Ministers of Georgia, February 1993).

3. From 25 November 1997, the following law shall become invalid:

The Law of Georgia on Applying the Civil Procedure Code of Georgia During Proceedings in Arbitration Courts of Georgia, dated 28 November 1996 (the Laws of Georgia - a supplement to the Gazette of the Parliament, No. 31-32/6. 1996).

4. From 1 May 1998, the following acts shall become invalid:

a. The Law of Georgia on the Election and Dismissal of Lay Judges of District (City) Courts of the Republic of Georgia, dated March 20, 1991 (Gazette of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia, No. 3, Article 259. 1991)

b. The Decree of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia on the Procedures and Amount of the Compensation of Expenses Related to the Activity of Lay Judges in Courts dated 20 March 1991 (Gazette of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia, No. 3, Article 250. 1991)

Eduard Shevardnadze

President of Georgia

Tbilisi

13 June 1997

No. 767-IIS