UPDATE: GUIDE TO GEORGIAN LEGAL RESEARCH

 

By Irma Aladashvili

(Update by Nana Patsia, May 2009; Update by Anna V. Dolidze, December/November 2010)

Update by Nini Gogiberidze

 

 

Nini Gogiberidze is an Assistant Professor at Ilia State University , Georgia. She holds MSc in Human Rights from London School of Economics and Political Science and LLM in International Law from Tbilisi State University.

 

Anna V. Dolidze is a Candidate for Doctor of  the Science of Law (J.S.D.) at Cornell Law School and Member of the Editorial Board  of the Cornell International Law Journal. In 2007-2008 Dolidze was hosted as Albert Podell Global Scholar at New York University Law School. Dolidze holds an L.L.B. and L.L.M. (with Presidential stipend for distinction) from Tbilisi State University and L.L.M. in Public International Law from Leiden University, the Netherlands. As a Chairperson of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, she has appeared as civil rights attorney before the Constitutional and Supreme Courts of the Republic of Georgia. Dolidze also has worked for a number of international organizations, Including Save the Children, Russian Justice Initiative and Human Rights Watch.

 

Irma Aladashvili works for the State Fund for Protection and Assistance of (Statutory) Victims of Human Trafficking in Tbilisi, Georgia. She had been working for more than a decade for the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association from Tbilisi, Georgia, where she is the Coordinator of the Law Library and Information Centre. She holds a B.S. in Law from the Tbilisi State University, and she graduated from the International Relations and Translation program (1998 – 2000) at Tbilisi Law Institute. She attended the Summer School of Human Rights: Role of Lawyers in Promoting Human Rights and Public Interest law in Budapest, Hungary, from June 7-18, 1997; in 1999, she attended a Human Rights training program in Montreal, Canada; in 2001, a training in Florence, Italy on Electronic Publishing.  Moreover, in October 2002, in Budapest, Hungary, she attended the Training for Law Librarians organized by the International Legal Institute and the Open Society Institute. She speaks Georgian, English, and Russian.

 

Nana Patsia has been working for the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association from Tbilisi, Georgia, where she is the Coordinator of the Law Library. She holds Bachelor’s Degree in Informational Technologies in Economics from the Georgian Technical University, and holds MA in Public Policy from the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs. In 2005-2006, she passed her internship at the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy, Tbilisi.

 

Published April/May 2015

See the archive version!

Table of Contents

1. INTRODUCTION

2. THE REGIONAL STRUCTURE OF GEORGIA

3. THE HISTORICAL EXPERIENCE

4. ROSE REVOLUTION

4.1. Lead-up to Elections

4.2. Scandals

4.3. Elections (November 2, 2003)

4.4. Revolution of Roses

4.5. Constitutional Changes

4.6. Leading up to 2012 Parliamentary Elections

4.7. 2012 Parliamentary Elections and its Aftermath

4.8. 2013 Presidential Elections

5. THE PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA

6. THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE GOVERNMENT OF GEORGIA

7. THE PARLIAMENT OF GEORGIA

8. NEW CHALLENGES OF THE GEORGIAN JUDICIARY

9. THE JUDICIARY

9.1. The Constitutional Court

9.2. The Supreme Court

9.3. Common Courts

10. REGIONALISM AND LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT IN GEORGIA

11. THE ELECTORAL PROCESS IN GEORGIA

12. HIERARCHY OF LEGAL NORMS OF GEORGIA

13. THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE, LEGAL JOURNALS AND MAIN NEWSPAPERS

13.1. Important Note on Primary Materials

14. WEB RESOURCES

 

1. INTRODUCTION

Georgia is located in the wrinkled Alpine zone, in subtropical zones of northern periphery between the 41° 07 and 43° 35 latitudes and West 40° 05 and 46° 44 longitudes. The border length is 1970 km, 315 km of which (16%) is coastline. The country is bounded by the Russian Federation to the north, by Azerbaijan to the east, by Armenia and Turkey from the south, and by the Black Sea to the west.

ushba.gif (120419 bytes)

The geological constitution is characterized by the formations from the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras. According to the wrinkles, it's divided by several geotectonic units: from north to south by Caucasian main ring's Antiklinorium, Georgian Belt, Achara-Trialeti system, Artvin-Bolnisi Belt and Loc-Karabag's wrinkled zone.

 

Georgia is rich in mineral resources: oil, coal, peat, iron, magnum, copper, projectile-zinc, arsenic, mercury, andezit, barite, talc, serpentit, agate, quartz, basalt, granite, diorite, marble, etc.

 

Different areas of Georgia are characterized by the contrast relief. The country is made up of high, middle and low mountain highland plane unity. The Caucasus reflect sharply from the inter-mountain lowlands.

tetnuldi.gif (80052 bytes)

mountain.gif (114105 bytes) The territory of Georgia features a highly contrasting topography.

 

Georgia is rich in underground waters, and there are mineral and thermal waters (Borjomi, Utsera, Dzau, Nabeglavi, Sairme, Zvare, Nunisi etc.).

 

Population and Area

Area

69,500

Census results of 1989

5,400,800

Official data of 1997

5,423,000

Population Density (per sq.km)

78

 

2. THE REGIONAL STRUCTURE OF GEORGIA

Apart from the two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia today is made up of the following geographical areas: Ajara, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Guria, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti, Kakheti, Kvemo Kartli, Shida Kartli, Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Imereti. This arrangement by-and-large coincides with the medieval traditional division of Georgia and the structure of public administration today. The overall regional arrangement of Georgia is not yet determined by the constitution.

 

Administrative-Territorial Units

Administrative-territorial map of Georgia

 

3. THE HISTORICAL EXPERIENCE

Georgia, known to Greeks and Romans as Kolkheti (western part of the country) and Iberia (eastern part), adopted Christianity in the 4th century under the influence of Byzantium. The country managed to unite during the 10 th -13 th centuries, despite numerous invasions by Arabians, Mongolians, Turks and Persians. This period in Georgian history is called the "Golden Era"; King David Agmashenebeli (1089-1125) and his granddaughter the King-woman Tamar (1184-1213) made great contributions during this period. Recollections of this period helped preserve a national self-awareness in the following centuries, when Georgia was conquered by foreigners. Russia, which started annexation of the region in 1801 and finished it in 1917, was the last among such conquerors. Georgia became part of the Soviet Union in 1921, and became an independent Republic of the Soviet Union in 1936.

 

The well-known Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and the "Head" of his political police, Lavrenti Beria, both Georgians by origin, destroyed the hope of Georgians to win national independence. The repressions went on after Stalin’s death: in 1956 his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, severely suppressed a revolutionary attempt by means of Soviet tanks, leading to the deaths of hundreds of people. During Brezhnev’s governance, Georgian Authorities gained a little success – the Georgian language was declared the state language.

 

In modern Georgian history, the year 1989 was a crucial moment. In April 1989, the Soviet Army broke up a peaceful demonstration, resulting in the murder of 20 people. Georgian society now strongly supported the policy of complete independence and separation from the Soviet Union.

 

On May 26, 1991, Georgia elected the Chairman of the Supreme Council Zviad Gamsakhurdia as President of the country.

 

Tension between the ruling and opposition parties gradually intensified, and in 1991-92 developed into an armed conflict. President Gamsakhurdia left the country, the Supreme Soviet ceased to function, and power was taken over by the Military Council, which was reconstituted into a State Council. The State Council restored Georgia’s Constitution of 1921.

 

In 1992 Eduard Shevardnadze (ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union) returned to Georgia, assuming chairmanship of the Military Council; the news was announced on August 4, 1992, the day of Parliamentary elections.

 

On July 31, 1992 Georgia became the 179th member of the UN. Presently Georgia is also a member of various other international and regional organizations.

 

In February and March of 1993, the Parliament of Georgia formed the State Constitutional Commission, presided over by Eduard Shevardnadze, and commissioned it with preparation of a new edition of the 1921 Constitution of Georgia. All the representatives of the Parliamentary factions (more than half of the entire composition), a large group of lawyers, policy experts and economists, and famous people of the Republic formed the Commission.

 

On August 24, 1995 the newly elected Parliament of Georgia adopted a new Constitution . The majority expressed their wish and ability to solve the fundamental problems of government authority and individuals not by violence, but only on the basis of the Constitutional Justice.

 

4. ROSE REVOLUTION

On November 2, 2003, national, parliamentary elections were held, which gave a boost to the processes leading eventually to the change of power. After serious allegations of election rigging in favor of the ruling Citizens’ Union, thousands of people stormed into the streets demanding change of government. After days of popular protest and under the risk that of impeding civil war, President Shevardndze resigned.  Events that ensued on November 23, 2003 have been dubbed  “Rose Revolution”, a peaceful, non-electoral transfer of power behind which the Georgian population stood.

 

4.1. Lead-up to Elections

The lead-up to the pre-election period gave a good indication of the fierceness of the struggle for mandates. Though parliamentary elections officially involved 23 parties and party blocks, the essential fight for mandates was held only among several parties, among them:  President Shevardnadze’s party bloc “For New Georgia”, “Renaissance Union” “National Movement”, “Burdjanadze-Democrats Bloc”, “Labor party”, and the “New Rightists”. Some experts named the “Industry Will Save Georgia” Party also on the list of favorites. However, many doubted its ability to pass the seven-percent barrier.

 

Given the style and characteristics of the President’s rule, all concerns appeared to be fairly well founded. Public administration was permeated with   of corruption, whose bounds flourished beyond the limits of the imagination. As early as 1998, World Bank experts put out the catastrophic results of their survey: all branches of government, including parliament, appeared to be corruption-riddled.

 

This system put a drain on the state coffers, not to mention on the economic development of the country. The shadow economy reached enormous scales, while the large majority of the population continued to live below the poverty line. In parallel, word was spreading widely in the press of millions of dollars missing and placing blame on public officials. However, none of them appealed in any sign of protest, instead just calling these charges a “dirty battle” against them.

 

4.2. Scandals

From autumn of that year on, the number of visits by representatives of international organizations increased considerably. The members of the OSCE Observers Mission held meetings with the leaders of the Georgian political parties. “The country’s stay within the Council of Europe depends on the conduction of elections” – Western diplomats repeated often. What they required of the Georgian authorities was a particular attention to elector lists, as well as the political independence of election commissions.

 

In the same period, opposition parties began to speak out loudly on the clampdown measures employed by the government. “The executive authorities do not allow opposition parties to meet those employees of budgetary organizations, who declare their support for them,” party representatives are quoted as saying.

 

The Central Election Committee adopted a resolution to instruct the Ministers of Justice and Internal Affairs, as well as the local and self-governing bodies, to redress all errors before October 18. The basis for this resolution was provided by the New RightsParty, who submitted evidence revealing the growth of the number of electors in one of the precincts by 650,000. Unofficial indications are that there are over 3 million electors in Georgia. The lists did not include living electors. Rather, they were filled with the names of their deceased relatives.

 

4.3. Elections (November 2, 2003)

On the day of the elections, there was complete chaos in the elector’s lists, incompetence and ignorance of election commission members, permanent breaches of provisions of the electoral code, unprecedented and unlawful decisions adopted by CEC, contradictory statements on previous polls by political parties and an absence of official information from the CEC.

 

4.4. Revolution of Roses

During the days, leading up to November 23 the country was confronted squarely with the prospect of an armed conflict. In those decisive hours, the President’s entourage promoted the illusion of civil clash, bringing in scores of policemen in civilian clothes from Adjara.

 

On November 23, Deputies assembled in the Parliament to inaugurate its first session and thus legitimize election results. At first,  there were not a sufficient number of deputies to reach the required  quorum..  In several minutes, the session was joined by  the New Rights Party enabling the President to declare the sitting as open. However, within  minutes opposition groups led by National Movement- Democratic Front alliance and opposition leaders Mikhail Saakashvili, Zurab Jhvania and Nino Burjanadze intruded into the sitting hall. President Shevardnadze was forced to flee. On the following day, he declared his resignation.

 

Interim government was formed which appointed interim elections on January 4, 2004. The favorite of the presidential elections and the leader of the revolution, Mikheil Saakashvili , swept to power with 96 percent of the votes cast.

 

4.5. Constitutional Changes

On February 6, 2004, the Georgian Parliament passed the first in the series of forthcoming Constitutional amendments significantly altering power arrangements within the Georgian system of government in favor of increased Presidential powers at the expense of weakened Parliament and judiciary. The fact of adoption of these amendments caused a serious rift among political parties comprising the National Movement – Democratic Front block resulting in eventual breakage of the Republican and Conservative Parties from the alliance.

 

The amendments were criticized by a number of international organizations, including by the European Commission on Democracy through Law (better known as the Venice Commission), Council of Europe’s authoritative advisory body on constitutional matters. The Commission criticized the amendments for the contradiction between their proclaimed aim of creating a better system of checks and balances and establishing a dual executive (as in the French constitutional model) and their actual impact on increasing the power of the President. Among others, the Commission underlined that certain provisions, for example new provision aimed at stripping Parliament deputies of their immunity, left members of parliament members defenseless against abusive proceedings brought by the Executive.

 

Despite of criticism from domestic and international actors, Parliament hastily passed said Constitutional amendments in violation of established timelines and legal safeguards for guarantying public discussion of Constitutional amendments. Series of implementing legislation followed.

 

A dozen of additional amendments have followed in ensuing years, each of them affecting branches of government and the relationship between them. For example, on February 26, 2008 Parliament of Georgia passed Constitutional amendments introducing the institutional of Regional Governors, high-ranking public officials appointed by the President in administrative territorial units of the country. Similarly, on October 10 2008 the Parliament passed Constitutional amendments authorizing unification of the previously independent Office of the Prosecutor with the Ministry of Justice and establishing the enlarged structure of the Ministry of Justice as a member of Government. The President would be entitled to dismiss the Minister of Justice.

 

In 2009 the President of Georgia set up a State Constitutional Commission with the task of preparing extensive amendments to the Constitution of Georgia. By 2010 state commission on constitutional reform tabled down a draft, which significantly increased Prime Minister’s powers at the expense of the presidential authority.  Authors of the draft describe it as "a mixed governance" where the President will act as "an arbiter" between the legislative body and executive government, led by Prime Minister elected from the ranks of a party, which will garner most of the votes in the parliamentary elections. Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal affairs, Venice Commission, released final opinion on Georgia’s constitutional reform reiterating that it would be desirable to further strengthen the powers of parliament.

 

On October 15, 2010, Parliament passed amendments to the constitution. The new constitution entered into force upon the inauguration of the next president, who was elected in October, 2013.

 

4.6. Leading up to 2012 Parliamentary Elections

Georgia went through the second transition process since its independence with the parliamentary election in October 2012. Georgia’s international partners strongly impressed upon the government that the conduct of 2012 legislative elections would affect future relations and the country’s hopes for eventually joining the European Union and NATO.

 

National Movement led Government, which was established after the Rose Revolution aimed at radical reforms of the Georgian society. It took steps to introduce a liberal market economy, to combat organized crime and stamp out corruption. To fulfill such much in a short period of time, radical measures were needed, which to certain extend came at the cost of human rights. Critics of Saakashvili’s Government  have often noted that, in the course of the years, separation between the State and the ruling party (United National Movement) tended to become blurred; the system of justice was flawed on key aspects relating to, for instance, the lack of balance of power between prosecution and defense undermining fairness and also resulting in very few acquittals; the misuse of the plea bargaining approach, as well as heavily reliance on  extensive surveillance system, resulted in unfair options for those under investigation and beyond; and grim conditions and ill-treatment and even torture in the overcrowded prisons .

 

In October 2011, multi-billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili stirred up the political scene of Georgia by unleashing criticism of the Saakashvili’s government and announcing his intention to establish a political party , to run in 2012 parliamentary elections. A few days after this announcement, President Saakashvili signed an order revoking Ivanishvili’s Georgian citizenship on the grounds that he also held

Russian and French citizenship. Thus, Ivanishvili was barred from running for office. Following domestic and international criticism, several constitutional amendments were enacted by United National Movement led Parliament, which went into force in May 2012. One such change permitted a citizen of an EU country, who has lived for five years in Georgia to be elected to high political office. This provision was designed to permit Ivanishvili’s participation in the October 2012 legislative election.

 

In April 2012, Ivanishvili launched his new political party, Georgia Dream-Democratic Georgia, and formed a coalition with several parties headed by individuals, who once supported or were a part of the Saakashvili government, and other groups and individuals left behind by political developments in the country, namely: the Republican Party of Georgia and the Conservative Party, the Free Democrats Party, the National Forum Party, and the Industry Will Save Georgia Party. 

 

Georgian Dream coalition represented a broad range of views from xenophobic and socially conservative to pro-Western and reformist.  However, while launching coalition, Ivanishvili affirmed support for Georgia’s integration into NATO and the EU. His alliance also promised to “restore justice”, to de-politicize the justice system, to release those unfairly imprisoned, to punish those responsible for abuse of power, to encourage a genuine multi-party system, to reduce poverty, unemployment, and emigration and to increase health, education and other social services; and generally pledged to bolster Georgia’s democratic and free market orientation.

 

4.7. 2012 Parliamentary Elections and its Aftermath  

The October 1, 2012, Parliamentary election was the first in country’s history resulting in a peaceful transfer of power. OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission has noted that overall October parliamentary elections marked an important step in consolidating the conduct of democratic elections. The Central Election Commission (CEC) reported that almost 61.31% registered voters turned out for the election . Only United National Movement (UNM) and Georgian Dream (GD) won enough party list votes to pass the 5% hurdle and win seats in the legislature: GD won 54.97% of votes, UNM - 40.34%.

 

President Saakashvili conceded that his ruling party lost parliamentary election and pledged to contribute to a constitutional process of convening new Parliament and forming new government by the Georgian Dream coalition. Saakashvili was due to remain in office until October 2013 Presidential elections and hand over the government to Ivanishvili led coalition. In this process, President Saakashvili was expected to refrain from exercising the extensive powers still legally available to him under the old constitution and he did so: he asked Georgian Dream to select a Prime Minister, and as a consequence he formally nominated his archrival Ivanishvili, who then chose his own cabinet. By the end of October 25, newly elected parliament confirm new government and PM nominee Bidzina Ivanishvili.

 

The political atmosphere since the 2012 parliamentary elections was marked by a tense cohabitation between the governing Georgian Dream coalition and the President and his United National Movement. This was compounded by the arrests and pre-trial detentions of several UNM officials, including the party’s Secretary General. The atmosphere in the Parliament has been somewhat better, in fact, parliament managed to adopt number of important bills, some of them in unity between GD and UNM blocks. One example was a major amendment to the Constitution.

 

Amendment, confirmed on October 4, 2013 envisaged cutting some of PM’s powers vis-à-vis parliament when changing cabinet members in a new constitutional model, which would have entered into effect after 2013 presidential elections. The new constitutional amendment also removed from the new constitutional model a clause, which was giving the PM right to initiate non-confidence vote against the cabinet in respect of any government-sponsored bill. The new amendment also envisaged introduction of a clause in the new constitutional model according to which if the Parliament fails to confirm state budget within first two months of new fiscal year, it will amount to launch of non-confidence vote procedures; but if the Parliament fails to confirm new government, the President will have the right to dissolve the Parliament and to call snap elections.

 

In general, Georgian Dream led government decided to improve the constitutional model of the country, and for these reasons parliament approved a 58-member State Constitution Reform Commission , chaired by parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili, tasked to table amendments to the constitution before September 1, 2014. Five issue-based working groups have been set up within the commission with each of them focusing on its specific area of constitution: checks and balances between branches of government; human rights, courts, prosecutor’s office; some other state institutions (National Security Council, National Bank, Public Defender’s Office, the State Audit Service); territorial-administrative arrangement and local self-governance; general constitutional provisions and rules of making amendments to the constitution. Since then Parliament has extended mandate of a state commission with the latest deadline extended to March 1, 2015.

 

4.8. 2013 Presidential Elections

On October 27, 2013 Georgian voters elected the fourth president of a country for a five-year term. It was the first time in Georgia when incumbent president was replaced through elections after serving second term in full. Georgian Dream nominated candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili won outright victory with 62.12% of the votes.  Observation missions confirmed that presidential election was efficiently administered and transparent, and took place in an amicable and constructive environment.

 

With the election of the new president, new constitutional model entered into force, which stipulated the sitting government to step down after inauguration of the new president. In fact, after the presidential vote, Prime Minister Ivanishvili stepped down, announcing that he is quitting politics and did not to seek re-election as PM. He has nominated a 31-year-old Interior Minister, Irakli Garibashvili , to be next Prime Minister of Georgia. Shortly after nomination, parliament of Georgia approved Mr. Garibashvili’s cabinet .  

 

5. THE PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA

According to the new constitutional model, President of Georgia is the head of state, a commander-in-chief and represents the country (and not be a supreme representative as it is under the old constitution) in foreign relations. President no longer directs and exercises domestic and foreign policy of the state. This authority is delegated to the Prime Minister and the government.

 

A citizen of Georgia (and not natural born citizen), who is at least 35 years old and has lived in Georgia for at least 5 years (instead of initial version of 15 years) and lived permanently in Georgia for last three years at the time of elections is eligible to run for presidency.

 

President has no right to hold a decision-making post in a political party, although has retain the right to be a member of a party.

 

President has the right to appoint or dismiss chief of staff of the armed forces and other top military commanders only with the agreement of the government.

 

President does not have the right to initiate draft laws, nor does he have the right to convene an emergency session of the Parliament.

 

President has no right to call for a referendum.

 

President can still nominate members of telecommunications and energy regulatory commissions, but only with an agreement of the government.

 

President has the right to nominate head of government of Adjara Autonomous Republic, but only after consultations with political parties and with an agreement of government.

 

According to the new constitutional model President's impeachment can be initiated by at least 1/3 of lawmakers. The issue is then being passed to the Constitutional Court. If the latter concludes that President's action contained signs of crime or violation of constitution, Parliament has to vote whether to impeach or not President within 15 days. A vote of at least 2/3 of lawmakers is required to impeach President.

 

6. THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE GOVERNMENT OF GEORGIA

Georgia’s new constitutional model outlines that the government is the supreme body of the executive branch, which directs and executes the country’s foreign and domestic policy and is accountable before the Parliament. The Prime Minister has the right to appoint and dismisses other members of the government, including defense and interior ministers (under the previous constitution dismissal of these two ministers was an exclusive right of the President). Prime Minister resignation automatically leads to the resignation of the government.

 

Government’s powers are suspended as soon the mandate of newly-elected Parliament is approved (and not upon electing a new President).

 

Prime Ministers candidacy is named by a political party, which wins parliamentary elections. Government members are named by designate Prime Minister. Government needs support of majority of MPs to win confidence vote.

 

If government's powers are suspended for reasons other than parliamentary elections, President nominates PM's candidate proposed by a parliamentary majority. In case of absence of parliamentary majority, a candidate should be proposed by a largest parliamentary faction.

 

If Parliament fails to give confidence vote to government twice, President nominates PM's candidacy named by two-fifth of lawmakers; but if even in that case the Parliament fails to give confidence vote, President will have the right to dissolve Parliament and call early elections.

 

It is only up to government to submit state budget to Parliament for consideration making these two responsible for entire budgetary matters, leaving out President.

 

Government has the right to request the Parliament ratification or denunciation of international treaties; President also enjoys this right in some cases, but with the government's consent.

 

President will not have the right to appoint or dismiss ambassadors without government's approval (it is no longer be up to the Parliament to approve ambassadorial nominations).

 

The government (and not PM unilaterally) appoints and dismisses provincial governors, instead of the President as it was under the previous constitution.  

 

PM has the right of “counterassignation” of presidential decrees, which means that most of the presidential decrees require confirmation by PM's signature. However, this right of PM does not apply to presidential acts issued during war, as well as acts concerning a decision to dissolve the Parliament, calling elections, signing drafts into law, appointing judges.

 

Government will have the right to request President to call for a referendum.

 

President requires government's consent on holding international talks or in case of signing international treaties.

 

7. THE PARLIAMENT OF GEORGIA

The Parliament of Georgia is the supreme representative body of the country. It exercises legislative power, determines the main directions of domestic and foreign policy and exercise control over Government. The Parliament resides Kutaisi, the second largest city after the capital. It is unicameral and has 150 members, known as deputies, from which 77 members are proportional representatives and 73 are elected through single-member district plurality system, representing their constituencies. All members of the Parliament are elected for four years on the basis of universal human suffrage.

 

Legislative activity (i.e. law making) is the exclusive right of the Parliament. Although the President has the right not to sign a law and to veto it, he does not have an absolute right to stop a law, as Parliament may override the veto.  According to the new constitution, Parliament is able to overrule a presidential veto with majority vote of lawmakers. However, this provision does not apply constitutional draft laws, when support of two-third of lawmakers is required.

 

Although the Parliament has the right to raise a question of responsibility of an individual cabinet member, the constitution does not specify what follows next and what might be the result of such demand by the Parliament.

 

The Parliament is also charged with the revocation of a member of the Parliament, as needed; election of the Speaker and Vice-Speakers of Parliament; the establishment of the internal entities; ratification, denunciation and cancellation of international agreements and treaties, and the adoption of decisions.

 

The Parliament elects three members of the Constitutional Court, four members of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Chairman of the Chamber of Control. The Parliament determines the type and composition of the armed forces and approves the number of the armed forces upon a submission from the National Security Council. The detention, imprisonment, search of apartment, car, workplace or person, and criminal proceedings of a delegate or member of the Supreme Court are inadmissible without the consent of the Parliament.

 

Non-Confidence Vote

 

Most important elements of the new constitution concern the non-confidence vote. No less than 2/5 of the total members of the Parliament, i.e. at least 60 lawmakers have the right to request for launching of non-confidence vote. The process will be deemed as started, if more than half of MPs support it. This vote can only take place not earlier than 20 days and no later than 25 days. If as a result of this vote the process is endorsed, the Parliament shall, not earlier than 20 days and no later than 25 days, hold a separate vote on a nomination of new prime ministerial candidate, selected by at least 2/5 of MPs.

 

If a new candidate is supported, then the President comes into play. The President should, within 5 days, either endorse the nomination or reject. In case of presidential veto on a new prime ministerial candidate, the Parliament will have the right to vote for nomination of a same candidate no earlier than 15 and no later than 20 days. But to override the presidential veto, the Parliament will need at least three-fifth of its members’ support, which is 90 MPs; while in other cases, such as vetoed laws (except of constitutional amendments), the Parliament will need only absolute majority (76 votes).

 

If the Parliament fails to override the veto, president will have the right, within three days, to dissolve the legislative body and call for early elections.

 

Distribution of Powers between President and Prime Minister/Government  

The table below shows distribution of powers between the president and Government/PM according to old and new constitutions of the country.

 

Distribution of Powers

President:

OLD CONSTITUTION

President:

NEW CONSTITUTION

Cabinet / Prime Minister:

NEW CONSTITUTION

Cabinet / Prime Minister: OLD CONSTITUTION

G E N E R A L     P R O V I S I O N S

· Head of State

· Leads and implements the domestic and foreign policy of the state. Guarantees the unity and sovereignty of the country. Ensures the performance by state organs of their constitutional functions.

· Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces

· Head of State

· Guarantees the unity and sovereignty of the country. Ensures the performance by state organs of their constitutional functions, within the limits given to him under the constitution.

· Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces

 

· Highest executive organ

· Ensures the execution of the country's domestic and foreign policy.

· Accountable to Parliament

· Ensures the execution of executive power, including domestic and foreign policy.

· Accountable to the President and Parliament

· Can hold office within a political party

· Cannot hold office within a political party

 

 

 

 

· Upon Parliament's assumption of duties, the cabinet resigns.

· Upon the President's inauguration, the cabinet resigns.

F O R E I G N   A F F A I R S

· Highest representative in foreign relations

· Representative in foreign relations

· The Prime Minister and other ministers represent Georgia in foreign relations within their respective areas of responsibility

 


· Leads negotiations and concludes international agreements.

· Leads negotiations and concludes international agreements in agreement with the cabinet. (In case there is no agreement with government, the Prime Minister's counter-signature is required for agreements to be valid.)

· International agreements concluded by the President without previous agreement of the cabinet must be counter-signed by the Prime Minister.

 

· Acceptance of foreign ambassadors' letters of accreditation

· Acceptance of foreign ambassadors' letters of accreditation in agreement with the cabinet.

 

 

L E G I S L A T I V E   &   N O R M A T I V E   C O M P E T E N C E S

· Concludes concordat with the Georgian Orthodox Church

· Unchanged

· [Prime Minister] Countersigns

 

· Right to initiate constitutional changes

· Removed

 

 

· Right to initiate legislation

· Removed

· [Cabinet] Right to initiate legislation. Upon Cabinet request, Parliament conducts extraordinary hearings on legislative initiatives submitted by the Cabinet.

· [Cabinet] Right to initiate legislation.

· Agrees to the Cabinet's submission to Parliament of the draft budget.

· Removed

· Independent submission to Parliament of the draft budget.

· Submission to Parliament of the draft budget, upon the President's agreement

 

 

· Unchanged

· Cabinet's agreement required in order for Parliament to amend the draft budget

 

 

· Unchanged

· Cabinet's agreement required in order to pass a law that foresees increased government spending, reduced government income, or government acceptance of new financial obligations

· Right to waive legal acts issued by agencies accountable to him

· Removed

 

 

· Signs laws.

· Unchanged

 

 

· Issues decrees, edicts and orders within his areas of competence. As Commander-in-Chief, he also issues commands.

· Unchanged

· [Prime Minister] Countersigns, except in the case of commands.

 

· Authorized in exceptional cases, from the dissolution of Parliament to its reinstatement, to adopt legally binding decrees and acts on tax and budget issues. The validity of these acts will automatically expire, unless Parliament confirms them within a month of its convocation.

· Removed

 

 

· Authorized to lock budget spending on Parliament's request in cases when such spending is unlawful.

· Removed

 

 

· Convocation and management of cabinet meetings concerning specially weighty state matters. Decisions reached at such meetings count as a Presidential Act.

· Right to demand that the Cabinet discuss specific topics at a cabinet meeting, and to take part in this meeting.

 

 

P E R S O N N E L   C O M P E T E N C E S

· Presents Parliament with a candidate for Prime Minister and appoints the Prime Minister. The President has full autonomy to determine who the candidate for Prime Minister will be, both after a Parliamentary Election, and after the resignation of the Cabinet.

· Presents Parliament with a candidate for Prime Minister and appoints the Prime Minister:

--after parliamentary elections , the candidate must come from the election subject with the best results.

--after resignation of the Cabinet , the candidate must come from the parliamentary majority.

 

 

· Approves the Prime Minister's appointments of cabinet members.

· Removed

· Appoints and discharges cabinet members.

· The Prime Minister appoints cabinet members with the President's approval, and is authorized to dismiss cabinet members.

· Authority to dismiss the cabinet as well as the ministers of justice and, interior and defence.

· Removed

 

 

 

 

· Unchanged

· The resignation of the Prime Minister means that the entire cabinet resigns.

· Submits the Cabinet to Parliament for a renewed vote of confidence, once one third of the cabinet or at least five of its members have been replaced.

· Unchanged

· Unchanged

· Upon the replacement of one third of the cabinet or at least five of its members, Parliament takes a vote of confidence upon the President's proposal.

 

 

· Cabinet can be dismissed by means of:

I) A constructive vote of no-confidence:

--If the candidate receives a simple majority from Parliament, the President can appoint or refuse to appointment him.

--If the candidate receives more than a three-fifth majority from Parliament, the President must appoint him.

· Cabinet can be dismissed by means of:

I) A vote of no-confidence with a simple parliamentary majority. The President can choose between dismissing the Cabinet, or dissolving Parliament.

II) An unconditional vote of no-confidence, requiring a three-fifth parliamentary majority, upon which the President must dismiss the Cabinet.

III) A vote of confidence: if it receives less than a simple majority in Parliament, the President can either dismiss the Cabinet or dissolve Parliament.

· Accepts the resignation of the Cabinet and its ministers, commits them to continue to fulfil their functions until a new Cabinet has been formed, or a new Prime Minister has been appointed.

· Commits the Cabinet to fulfil its function until a new Cabinet has been formed.

 

 

· Appoints ambassadors with Parliament's approval.

· Appoints ambassadors upon the proposal of the Cabinet.

· Cabinet: Right to propose ambassadorial candidates

 

· Suggests to Parliament candidates for senior officials, the appointment of which requires Parliamentary confirmation.

· Unchanged

 

 

· Appoints and dismisses the members, the secretary, and the staff of the National Security Council

· Unchanged

 

 

· Appoints and dismisses the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other commanders

· Appoints and dismisses the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other commanders, in agreement with the Cabinet

· Cabinet: Proposes appointment and dismissal of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other commanders

 

· Appoints and dismisses governors

· Removed

· Cabinet: Appoints and dismisses governors

 

 

· Appoints one member of the High Council of Justice.

 

 

· Participates in the appointment of chairman and members of the Central Election Commission

· Unchanged

 

 

· Proposes candidates for positions in regulatory authorities to Parliament.

· Proposes candidates for positions in regulatory authorities to Parliament, in agreement with the Cabinet.

 

 

· Proposes candidates for Ajara Government Chairman to the High Council of Ajara, after consulting the political subjects represented in the High Council of Ajara.

· In agreement with the Cabinet, proposes candidates for Ajara Government Chairman to the High Council of Ajara, after consulting the political subjects represented in the High Council of Ajara.

 

 

· Appoints three judges of the Constitutional Court

· Unchanged

 

 

· Right to propose candidates for President and Judges of the Supreme Court to Parliament

· Unchanged

 

 

· Proposes members of the council of the National Bank to Parliament, and appoints/dismisses the president of the National Bank

· Unchanged

 

 

E X C E P T I O N A L   S I T U A T I O N S

· Dissolution of Parliament in cases foreseen by the Constitution:

1) Inability of the newly elected Parliament to form a cabinet: the President must dissolve Parliament.

2) Passing of a vote-of-no-confidence against the Cabinet: the President either dissolves Parliament, or dismisses the Cabinet.

3) Failure of a vote-of-confidence to pass when such a vote has been attached to a draft bill: the President dismisses the Cabinet or dissolves Parliament.

4) If within three months of its submission Parliament does not approve the draft budget, the President is authorized to dismiss the Cabinet or dissolve Parliament and call early elections.

· Dissolution of Parliament in cases foreseen by the Constitution:

1) Inability of the newly elected Parliament to form a cabinet: the President must dissolve Parliament.

2) Failure of a constructive vote-of-no-confidence to pass once it has been initiated: the President can dissolve Parliament.

3) If within two months of the start of the new budget year Parliament does not confirm the budget, this counts as the initiation of a vote-of-no-confidence procedure. If finally Parliament fails to pass a constructive vote-of-no-confidence, then the President must dissolve Parliament and call new elections.

 

 

 

· Right to suspend or repeal self-governing bodies with Parliament's approval

· Right to suspend or repeal self-governing bodies upon proposal from the cabinet and with Parliament's approval

 

 

· Proclaims state of emergency and state of war. Parliament must approve the decision within 48 hours.

· Unchanged

 

 

· Decides on the deployment of the armed forces with Parliament's approval. In a state of emergency, or in order to fulfil international obligations, the President can decide without Parliament's approval, in which case Parliament must approve the decision within 48 hours.

· Unchanged

 

 

· Right to limit certain rights and freedoms in state of emergency of war. Parliament must approve such decisions within 48 hours.

· Unchanged

· Prime Minister: countersigns

 

E L E C T I O N S   A N D   R E F E R E N D U M S

· Calls elections

· Unchanged

· Prime Minister: Countersigns, except in the case of parliamentary elections

 

· Convenes referendums, including upon his own initiative

· Convenes referendums, but not upon his own initiative

· Cabinet: Requests the president to call a referendum

 

 

 

· Cabinet: can only introduce new kinds of tax by way of a referendum, except in cases foreseen through the applicable organic law. Only Cabinet can call a referendum.

 

O T H E R

· Summons extraordinary parliamentary sessions upon the request of Parliament or on his own initiative

· Summons extraordinary parliamentary sessions upon the request of Parliament or on the initiative of the Cabinet.

· Cabinet: Right to propose calls for extraordinary parliamentary sessions

 

· Right to pardon

· Unchanged

 

 

· Grants citizenship and asylum

· Unchanged

· Prime minister: countersigns grants of asylum

 

· Bestowal of state prizes, the highest military ranks, honorary titles, the highest diplomatic honours

· Unchanged

· Prime Minister: countersigns the highest military ranks, honorary titles, the highest diplomatic honours

 

 

8. NEW CHALLENGES OF THE GEORGIAN JUDICIARY

Over the last decade a new legal system, has been created in Georgia. Soviet era laws were replaced with new laws, drafted with the help of ongoing consultations with the active cooperation of European experts. As a result of this collaboration, Georgia adopted new Civil, Administrative, Company, Criminal laws. In 1999, the new legislation governing the judiciary came into force. The implementation of these new laws raised the question of the need for institutional reform, an integral part of which was considered to be judicial reform. Although the judiciary was partially formally freed from control, dependence and subordination to the executive branch of government, international organizations report systematic problems with corruption and independence of judges. The Council of Justice and the High School of Justice have been established.  The Council of Justice was established as a self-governing agency for judges. However, with active participation of political forces (in the past, President has served as the Chair of the Council and the Parliament has the right to appoint its representatives as members) sheds an unfavorable light to its independence. Similarly, lack of transparency and objective procedures in selection, training and appointment of judges by the High School of Justice, it has been subject to criticism about political bias.

 

A new court instance – appellate courts – was created. The competences between courts of deferent instances were clearly defined and separated. The rules for the competences and jurisdiction of the courts are now prescribed by law and are no longer dependent on the will and decisions of the chairmen of the courts.

 

The Supreme Court was transformed into the court of cassation, which reviews only the legal aspects of appeal decisions and does not discuss the cases on merit.

 

As a result of the reform, the peculiarities of the Soviet court system that still exist in most post-Soviet countries and challenge the independence of their judicial system were abolished. For example:

·        The practice of prosecutorial oversight of the courts was eliminated;

·        The supervisory review procedure, which gave the Chairman of the Supreme Court and his deputies the right to quash final and binding court decisions, regardless of the data of their entry into force, has been abolished. This radically condensed the time limits for deciding cases and ended the so-called “never finished” disputed, sometimes being discussed at courts for years. Accordingly, a fundamental principle of the rule of law, the principle of legal certainty, is now being observed;

·        For the first time in the country’s history, an administrative law chamber was established. This gives every citizen the right to appeal the actions of state organs which the citizen believes have infringed upon his or her rights;

·        The Supreme Court has been deprived of the right to issue resolutions of a normative character that are binding on courts of lower instances. This practice of issuing plenum resolutions still exists in other post-Soviet countries;

·        Transparency of the court process has become a characteristic of the Georgian judiciary. All decisions of the Supreme Court are published and accessible for all interested individuals. An organization called the “Media Group” at the Supreme Court is staffed with representatives of mass media and civil society. These representatives, together with judges discuss issues that face the judiciary. Representatives of the mass media are always provided with information concerning cases prior to the proceedings. They thus have the opportunity to select and attend the proceeding that they want to hear.

 

9. THE JUDICIARY

The structure of Judicial Power in Georgia is defined and outlined in the Constitution the country. Chapter Five of the Georgian Constitution deals specifically and solely with Judicial Power. It identifies all the judicial bodies that implement justice in the country (Constitutional Court, courts of general jurisdiction and military courts, within the framework of the courts of general jurisdiction) and institutionalizes trials by jury. 

 

The Georgian constitution is clear about the fact the judiciary must be independent and free from any political or other undue influence. However,  in practice, this crucial principle has not been fully respected. Courts have been subject to direct or indirect political pressure and have not always been able to protect their integrity.

 

UNM led government did take steps to address some problems in the justice system. The structure of the justice system was overhauled; the High Council of Justice (HCJ) moved from presidential subordination to a formally independent institution; and a new criminal procedure law was adopted. Corruption within the judiciary was successfully tackled and equipment and administration of the courts considerably improved. However, several other challenges remained.

 

After the parliamentary elections in October 2012 an important further phase of judicial reform was initiated by the Georgian Dream lead Government. In April 2013, Parliament passed amendments to the law on common courts, in which reforming of High Council of Justice (HCoJ) was the central issue. The High Council of Justice is in charge of overseeing judicial system with the authority to appoint or dismiss judges, as well as to initiate disciplinary proceedings against judges. There are 15 members in HCoJ, which is chaired by Supreme Court Chairman.  Six members of the HCoJ are elected by the Parliament with secret ballot from candidates nominated by legal advocacy non-governmental organizations; law schools and law departments of various universities and Georgian Bar Association. These six members are confirmed by the Parliament with two-thirds majority.  Remaining eight seats in HCoJ are filled by judges, elected by judiciary’s self-governing body, Conference of Judges. The new system also introduces number of other significant changes in this judicial component of HCoJ’s composition; it strips the Supreme Court Chairman of his current exclusive right to nominate candidates for HCoJ membership; every judge will have the right to nominate a candidate. It also envisages making ballot at the Conference of Judges secret.

 

In October 2013, Parliament passed another set of amendments to the law on common courts envisaging setting three-year probationary period for newly recruited judges before their appointment for life. Appointment of judges before retirement is guaranteed by new constitutional model, which entered into force after presidential elections of 2013. Beforehand, sitting judges had the right to hold offices for a ten-year term. The constitutional provision also provides for possibility of setting a trial period for judges of “not more than three years” before they take office for life. This new provision also gave flexibility to lawmakers by saying that such a probationary period “may” be set. Many non-governmental actors spoke out against the setting of a three-year probationary period and offered the Parliament to postpone enforcement of the constitutional provision, which envisages appointment of judges for life. The Venice Commission, Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal affairs, recommended in respect of this probationary period provision that it was “problematic”, citing that it may undermine independence of judges as they may feel under pressure to decide cases in a particular way during the trial period. Despite criticism, the bill was passed by the parliament, setting out 2 evaluation criteria - good faith and competence, before appointment for judges for life.  Each criteria has certain characteristics, based on which the examiner has the right to evaluate judge’s performance during the probation period.  One judge and one non-judge member of High Council of Justice jointly carry out evaluation process.

 

9.1. The Constitutional Court

The legal body for Constitutional supervision is the Constitutional Court of Georgia.

The Constitutional Court protects the constitutional rights of individuals (by revoking normative bills that conflict with the provisions of the constitution) and to consider or settle constitutional disputes between public institutions. In specific cases, the Constitutional Court may arbitrate on election issues. The court also participates in the procedure for the impeachment of high-ranking government officials in cases stipulated by the constitution.

 

By the article 89 of the Constitution:

 

1.      “The Constitutional Court of Georgia, upon the Complaints or Submission of the President, of not less than one fifth of the Members of Parliament, of the courts, of supreme representative bodies of Abkhazia and Adjaria, of the public defenders or of a citizen and under the rules established by organic law:

a.      decides the Constitutionality of the law, the President's normative acts and the normative acts of the supreme bodies of authority of Abkhazia and Adjaria;

b.      considers disputes on the competence between state bodies;

c.      considers questions of the constitutionality of the creation and activity of political parties;

d.      considers disputes connected with the question of the Constitutionality of referenda and elections;

e.      considers disputes connected with questions of the constitutionality of treaties and international agreements;

f.       on the basis of complaints of citizens, considers questions of the Constitutionality of normative acts on the issues envisaged by the second chapter of this Constitution;

g.      exercises other authorities determined by the Constitution and organic law of Georgia.

2.      The decision of the Constitutional Court is final. Normative acts or their parts recognized as unconstitutional have no legal power from the moment the appropriate decision of the Constitutional Court is published.

 

The Constitution determines the composition of the Constitutional Court: nine judges, each with a 10-year term of office. Three are appointed by the President of Georgia, three are elected by Parliament and three are appointed by the Supreme Court of Georgia.

 

The Constitutional Court considers a case if an application has been filed by any citizen, Legal entities of Georgia, the President, and no less than one fifth of MPs, any court, representative bodies of Abkhazia or Adjara, or the Public Defender. A decision by the Constitutional Court is final, and the normative act or a part of it, which is considered unconstitutional, loses its legal force once the decision has been made public.

 

The Organic Law on the Constitutional Court provides for its authority, the rules of its creation and activities.

 

9.2. The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Georgia is the highest judicial body in Georgia. By Article 90 of the Constitution:

“The Supreme Court of Georgia, in accordance with existing legal procedure supervises the enforcement of justice of every court of Georgia, and reconsiders cases determined by law in the court of first instance.”

Judges of the Supreme Court are also nominated by the President and elected by Parliament for 10-year terms. There are 30 judges in the Supreme Court at present.

 

There are three Chambers of Cassation and Collegium of Criminal Law in the Supreme Court.

The Chambers are:

·        The Chamber of Civil, Entrepreneurship and Bankruptcy Cases

·        The Chamber of Criminal Cases

·        The Chamber Administrative and Other Categories of Cases

 

The chairmen of the Chambers and the Collegium are also deputies of the Chairman of the Supreme Court.

 

Chambers of the Supreme Court, composed of three members, consider complaints relating to decisions of the Courts of Appeal and those of the High Courts of the Autonomous Republics.

 

The Collegium of Criminal Cases, within the Supreme Court, considers in the first instance only grave criminal cases such as terrorism, assassination of a senior official, etc.

 

Since 2001, a Grand Chamber has been operating within the Supreme Court. It consists of the Chairman of the Supreme Court, the Chairman of the Collegium and at least 12 other judges from the chambers elected by the Plenum.

 

Cases are heard by nine judges and include those who sat on the original decision.

 

The Plenum works within the Supreme Court. It consists of the Chairman of the Supreme Court, his/her deputies, the chairman of the high Courts of  Abkhazia and Adjara, all the judges of the Supreme Court and Chairman of Tbilisi and Kutaisi District Courts.

 

Similar to the Constitutional Court, there is a separate Organic Law “On the Supreme Court of Georgia”, which provides for its authority, rules of creation and activities. The Supreme Court has selected decisions in English .

 

9.3. Common Courts

Regional (City) Courts are the lowest level of general courts. Cases are considered by one judge. 

The District Court, like the Regional one, is a court of the first instance, where cases are considered by three judges.

 

Within the District Courts there are:

 

·        A Collegium of Criminal Cases

·        A Collegium of Civil and Bankruptcy Cases

·        A Collegium of Administrative Justice and Taxation

 

Special Chambers of Appeal have been created within the District Courts. These chambers are II Instance Courts. They consider appeals from the Regional (City) Courts. There are three chambers for criminal cases, civil and bankruptcy cases, and administrative law and taxation cases.

 

Any person of thirty years of age, that possesses a law degree and a five- year professional experience, may qualify to serve as a judge. Constitutional amendments of October 2010 provide for lifetime tenure for judges. Before lifetime appointment, it is possible to appoint the judges for the initial trial period of three years.

 

10. REGIONALISM AND LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT IN GEORGIA

Functions and responsibilities of the local government are separate from those of the central government. Local governments possess their own finances and property. Yet central authorities do exercise certain supervisory functions. Moreover, as the most important source of revenues are allocated to the central government, e.g. profit tax, local governments are largely devoid of independent sources  of income and are dependent on financial transfers from the central government.

 

Following 2012 parliamentary elections, power in most municipal assemblies and executives has shifted to members of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition by nonelectoral means. There are widespread reports of pressure on members of municipal assemblies and executives to resign or switch loyalties to the ruling coalition. Watch-dog organizations reported that thousands of employees in ministries, government agencies and municipal administrations have been fired since the latest parliamentary elections. The ambitious plan to reform local governance announced in late 2013 started its passage through parliament at the end of the year.

 

In 2014 Parliament of Georgia passed a new bill on local self-governance reform. With the passage of the bill new system of local governance was introduced.  The bill envisaged direct election of mayors in twelve towns, as well as direct election of heads of all the municipalities starting from local elections 2014.

 

Towns with at least 15,000 residents automatically become eligible for the status of “self-governing city”. Voters in self-governing towns are able to directly elect mayors. The Council (or Assembly), known in Georgian as Sakrebulo, remains a representative body of local self-governance on the municipality level. Sakrebulo is elected for a four-year term and varies in term of the seats depending on the size of municipality. Executive body is led by Gamgebeli (head of the municipality) and a mayor in case of self-governing town.

 

Sakrebulo is able to launch procedures for sacking directly elected mayor/gamgebeli upon the initiative of at least half of its members or upon a written request of at least 20% of voters registered in a respective municipality or town. Two-thirds majority of Sakrebulo members will be required to vote out mayor or gamgebeli. Critics of suggested that these provisions might weakens importance of institution of directly elected mayors and gamgebelis. 

 

Last Local Elections were held in Georgian in 2014. 

 

11. THE ELECTORAL PROCESS IN GEORGIA

Since 1990, Georgia has held 8 parliamentary elections (in 1990, 1992, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2012), 7 Presidential elections (in 1991, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2013), and 5 local elections (in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 ).

 

In August 2001, Parliament enacted a new, comprehensive Electoral Code. The code has been changes numerous times and currently does not follow any specific pattern.

 

Local and international election observation groups have called on to the authorities that it is essential to reform the electoral system in order to introduce such system, which will ensure that elections are conducted fairly, seats are allocated in proportion to votes, the risk of losing votes is decreased to minimum and the principle of equality of votes is observed.  

 

12. HIERARCHY OF LEGAL NORMS OF GEORGIA

 

Article 21 of the Civil Code of Georgia states that “the Civil Code, other acts of private law and their interpretation, shall conform to the Constitution of Georgia”. This provision underlines the circumstance that the Constitution as the state’s basic law is at the top in the hierarchy of legal documents and legal rules. According to Article 6 I, “the Constitution is the supreme law of the state” and “all other legal acts shall be in compliance with the Constitution.

 

In Georgia, in the hierarchy of norms, an international treaty takes the next highest rank after the Constitution, as per Article 6 II. It enters into force in compliance with Article 65 of the Constitution (in some cases after being ratified by Parliament). Thus, it is not necessary to adopt a special normative act on the enactment of its provisions.

 

After the Constitution and international treaties come laws. There is a difference between “ordinary” and organic laws. Article 66 of the Constitution states that the consent of the majority of Members of Parliament is needed for the adoption of an organic law. Organic laws are on a higher rank than ordinary laws and are adopted for the implementation of a particular requirement of the Constitution.

 

Sub-legislative normative acts are of a general character and thus tend to be applicable to an indefinite amount of social relations and indefinite group of persons. Consequently, pursuant to Article 2 III of the Civil Code of Georgia, sub-legislative normative acts adopted for the regulation of private law relations is admissible only if they complement the norms of law. If it contravenes the law, the sub-legislative normative act shall not be applied.

 

Georgian law, like Romano-Germanic law, is divided into public ( jus publicum ) and private (jus privatum or jus civile) law-order . Public law comprises constitutional, administrative and criminal laws as well as customs, taxation and procedure legislation. Traditionally civil and company law fell within the scope of private law. Today such a division has retained its practical importance for the classification of legal acts and the identification of the course of justice.

 

Private law disputes are adjudicated under civil proceedings on an adversarial basis. Public law disputes are adjudicated under administrative proceedings, and with inquisitional elements.

 

An administrative body has a special authority precisely prescribed by the law, whereas natural persons and legal persons of private law are entitled to carry out any action not forbidden by the law. An administrative body is bounded by the principle of observing legitimacy and state interests; the principle of autonomy of will provided for by private law does not apply to it. Due to this fundamental distinction, legal persons of public law cannot be treated like private persons under a common civil law regime. Thus, it becomes necessary to introduce a special regime for the activity of legal persons of public law.

 

Administrative law is the common law of public governance.

 

Article 1 of the Civil Code of Georgia defines the scope of application of civil law – it “regulates property, family and personal relations of a private nature, based on the equality of persons”. Pursuant to Article 8 I of the Civil Code, “any natural or legal person may be a subject of private law relations. This rule applies to both entrepreneurial and non-entrepreneurial persons of Georgia or of other countries.”

 

“Private law relations between state bodies and legal persons of public law, on the one hand, and other persons on the other hand, shall  likewise be regulated by civil laws unless these relations, in the interests of the state or the public, are to be regulated by public law” (Article 8 II of the Civil Code).

 

Pursuant to Article 7 of the Civil Code, “an object of private legal relations may be a material or non-material good, of property or non-property value, which has not been excluded from (commercial) circulation by law”. According to Article 10I, “the exercise of civil rights shall not depend upon political rights regulated by the Constitution or by other laws of public law”.

 

“Participants in a civil relation may exercise any action not prohibited by law, including any action not directly foreseen by law” (Article 10 II of the Civil Code).

 

As for the scope of application of the administrative law, pursuant to Article 2 I of the Administrative Procedures Code, a common court shall hear disputes arising from legal relations that are regulated by administrative legislation.

 

Pursuant to Article 2 II of the Administrative Procedure Code of Georgia, the subject of an administrative dispute may be in conformity of an administrative act with Georgian legislation; conclusion or performance of an administrative transaction; and the obligation of administrative body relating to compensation of damage, issuance of administrative act, or taking any other action.

 

13. THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE, LEGAL JOURNALS AND MAIN NEWSPAPERS

The Official Gazette, where all laws are published, is called "Sakanonmdeblo matsne".

 

The main law journals of Georgia are: "Samartali" (LAW), "Adamiani da Konstitutsia" (Human and Constitution), "Saertashoriso Samartali" (International Law), “Almanakhi", "Tavisufleba" (Liberty), "Martlmsadjulebis matsne", "Advokati meokhi" etc.

 

Main newspapers:

·        "Rezonansi",

·        " 24 Hours "

·        "Mtavari gazeti", "Kviris palitra"

·        "Alia"

·        "Saqartvelos respublika"

·        "Tbilisi"

·        " Georgia Today "

·        "Tbilisi Today"

·        " The Georgian Times ” (Media Holding Georgian Times)

 

13.1. Important Note on Primary Materials

The latest edition of decisions and cases issued by the Constitutional Court covers a period from 2006-2007 and is published in 2009;

 

The Supreme Court publishes cases and decisions in the different fields of law, these are:

·        Decisions on Criminal Cases of 2008 vol.10;

·        Decisions on Civil cases 2008 vol. 05;

·        and Administrative Cases also 2008 vol 07.

 

Legislative Herald published by the parliament is also divided in three major issues: Laws of Georgia, By Laws and Informational Edition;

 

The latest from these are:

Laws:  issue number 32, date: November 6, 2009;

·        By Laws: issue number 139, date: November 11, 2009

·        and Informational edition: issues number 75, date: November 10, 2009

 

Unfortunately, the latest versions of codes are not available online in English. The final criminal procedure code is not yet adopted, but a lot of changes are made. We are waiting shortly for this code to be published. As for the other codes, there definitely are the changes in those as well. Personally I would not rely on the online source in terms of the updates of these codes (in English language) .  Another unfortunate thing is that the Georgian legislation in not that often updated in English language.

 

There is no official publisher except for the parliament of Georgia that periodically publishes laws, codes, changes in the law etc. The edition  title is "Legislative Herald" (sakanonmdeblo matsne ) , this the only in print reliable source. As for the journals that publish cases, they might be found  in the editions that  are periodically published by the Constitutional and Supreme Courts. It makes no sense for the different publishing houses to issue Georgian legislation since the majority of the organizations and ordinary  users have Codex program which is available in CD-ROM format and includes all of the latest updates from the Georgian legislation.

 

14. WEB RESOURCES

·        Parliament of Georgia

·        The Executive Power of Georgia

·        Ministry of state security of Georgia

·        Armed Forces & Security

·        Supreme Court Of Georgia

·        Constitutional Court of Georgia

·        Human Rights Protection in Georgia

·        Public Defender of Georgia

·        Ministry of Foreign Affairs

·        Ministry for Special affairs

·        Ministry of Internal Affairs

·        Central Electoral Commission of Georgia /CEC/

·        Ministry of Finance of Georgia

·        Georgian search engine

·        Georgian search engine

·        Online magazine of United Nations Association of Georgia

·        General Courts of Georgia