UPDATE: An Overview of Iranian Legal System


By Maliheh Zare [1]


Maliheh Zare is a J.S.D. Candidate, LL.M. 12, at New York University School of Law and Ph.D. in Private and Islamic Law at the University of Tehran, Tehran, IRAN.


Published August 2015

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Table of Contents

I.       Introduction

A.     General Information about Iran

B.     Political Information

C.      Economy

II.     The Iranian Legal System

A.     The Supreme Leader

B.     Legislative Power

a)      Islamic Consultative Assembly/Parliament

b)     Guardian Council

c)      Expediency Council

C.      The Executive Power

a)      The President

b)     Ministries

D.     The Judicial Power

a)      The Court System

1.       Dispute Settlement Councils

2.      Civil Courts

3.      Criminal Courts

4.      Supreme Court

5.      Non-Judicial Dispute Settlement Bodies

b)     Administrative Court

c)      Arbitration

d)     Enforcement of Judgment and Arbitral Awards

e)      Lawyering

1.       Regional Bar Associations

2.      Judiciary Bars

III.   Related Information

A.     Legal Guides and Information

B.     Official Websites

C.      Important Libraries

D.     Law Faculties


I.                Introduction


A.     General Information about Iran

Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran) is located in the Middle East having land boundaries with Afghanistan and Pakistan from the East, Turkey and Iraq from the West, and Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkmenistan from the North. It borders Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman from the south and Caspian Sea from the north. [2] The population of Iran as of 2011 is 75,149,669. [3] Its area is 1,648,195 km 2 .


The official language of Iran is Farsi (Persian). Under Article 12 of the Constitution, the official religion is Shia Twelver Islam. The Iranian official calendar is the solar calendar and starts as of the migration of the Prophet Mohammad from Mecca to Medina ( hijrī-shamsī ). Friday (and Thursday in some metropolitan cities) is (are) the weekly holiday(s). [4]


B.     Political Information

Several monarchies ruled Iran until the 1979 Islamic Revolution the last of which was Mohammadreza Pahlavi as the head of Pahlavi dynasty. Since 1979, Iranian State is an Islamic State under Article 2 of the 1979 Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran as amended in 1989 (hereinafter the Constitution).


C.     Economy

Under the Constitution, Iranian economy has three sectors; public, private and cooperatives. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, almost all strategically situated economic sectors became nationalized or expropriated for the purpose of redistribution of wealth. Under Article 44 of the Constitution, the government has owned all major industries. [5] In that sense, it can be compared to economies in former communist states. In 2008, a new wave of criticism over the disproportionate state ownership and its inefficiencies in promoting economic development in the country brought attentions to Article 44 of Constitution. A new law drafted, Law on Implementation of Article 44 of the Constitution, which redefined the limitations on the private sector participation in the economy. The law kept the core management of the government in main industries and allowed privatization of all other activities or participation of the private sector in expanding the previously public sector (Articles 2 and 3). [6] The process aimed at a move to market economy and it has a policy to achieve the full privatization.


II.              The Iranian Legal System

The Iranian Legal System is structured as a civil law system following French civil law system. The government consists of the Supreme Leader, the executive, legislative, and judicial powers. In this section, a summary of each institution will be studied.


A.     The Supreme Leader (Welāiat-i faqīh)

The Supreme Leader is the head of the country and leads Iran in political, social, and economic matters. The first Supreme Leader was Ayatollāh Siyyid Rūhullāh Khomeynī (1979- 1989) succeeded by Ayatollāh Siyyid Ali Khāminiī (1989-Present.) According to Articles 107 to 109 of the Constitution, the Supreme Leader is elected by the Assembly of Experts [7] and is appointed for life. He must be an Islamic jurist ( faqih ), just, pitiful, courageous and has deep understanding of the political and social issues. Under Article 110 of the Constitution, the duties of the Supreme Leader are as follows:


  1. Delineation of the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran after consultation with the Expediency Council.
  2. Supervision over the proper execution of the general policies of the system.
  3. Issuing decrees for national referenda.
  4. Assuming supreme command of the armed forces.
  5. Declaration of war and peace, and the mobilization of the police and military.
  6. Appointment, dismissal, and acceptance of resignation of:
    1. The fuqahā on the Guardian Council.
    2. The supreme judicial authority of the country.
    3. The head of the radio and television network of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
    4. The chief of the joint staff.
    5. The chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.
    6. The supreme commanders of the armed forces.
  7. Resolving differences between the three wings of the armed forces and regulation of their relations.
  8. Resolving the problems, which cannot be solved by conventional methods, through the Expediency Council.
  9. Signing the decree formalizing the election of the President of the Republic by the people.
  10. Dismissal of the President of the Republic, with due regard for the interests of the country, after the Supreme Court holds him guilty of the violation of his constitutional duties, or after a vote of the Islamic Consultative Assembly testifying to his incompetence.
  11. Pardoning or reducing the sentences of convicts, within the framework of Islamic criteria, on a recommendation [to that effect] from the Head of judicial power. [8]


B.     The Legislative Power

Under Articles 62 to 99 of the Constitution, the legislative power is consist of Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament), Guardian Council and Expediency Council.


a)     Islamic Consultative Assembly/Parliament (Majlis Shurā-yi Islāmī)

According to Articles 62 to 70 of the Constitution, the Parliament members are elected directly by the people’s secret ballots for a four-year term. The number of members from each province is determined based on its population and political and geographic factors. The number was originally two hundred seventy and increases by maximum twenty members for each ten-year period. The minorities including Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians elect their representatives. The latter has three representatives and the other two have one representative each. Currently, [9] it has 290 members and by the presence of two-thirds of them is legally in session. The sessions must be open and the minutes must be available to public live by radio and printed in official gazette.


Under Articles 71 to 93 of the Constitution, the Parliament has the following duties: 1) It passes all laws excluding the domains reserved in the Constitution; 2) The interpretation of such laws is also within its competence. The bills may either be proposed by the government after the approval of the Council of Ministers or minimum 15 of Parliament members; 3) The Parliament has also the right of investigation of the public affairs, approving the international treaties and agreements and loans and international aids; 4) The Parliament has the right to issue the vote of confidence to the Council of Ministers; and 5) It may pose a question to the President or any of the ministers. It may also interpolate the President, the Council of Ministers or an individual minister.


b)     Guardian Council (Shurā-yi Nigahbān)

According to Articles 91 to 99 of the Constitution, the Guardian Council has 12 members equally divided to religious scholars (Fuqaha) appointed by the Supreme Leader and jurists introduced by the Head of Judiciary and elected by the Parliament. The Guardian Council has the following duties; 1)It monitors all drafts passed by the Parliament to ensure that they are in accordance with Shariā (Islamic law) as determined by fuqaha and the Constitution as determined by its jurists; 2) It has the competence to interpret the Constitution with the vote of three-fourths of its members; and 3) It also supervises all elections and referenda.


c)      Expediency Council (Majma’a Tashkhīs-e Maslahat)

Under Article 112 of the Constitution, the Expediency Council members are appointed by the Supreme Leader on a permanent or temporary basis. It is vested with the responsibility to resolve the conflicts between the Guardian Council and the Parliament. It also issues consultations to the Supreme Leader upon his reference.


C.     The Executive Power

According to Articles 113 to 151, the President is the head of the executive power and appoints the Ministers and Deputies.


a)     The President

According to Articles 114 to 122 of the Constitution, the President is elected for maximum two consecutive four-year terms by the direct secret vote of the people by the absolute majority in the first round. If the majority is not achieved in the first round, the candidates with the greatest number of votes will compete in the second round and the candidate with the most votes will be elected as the president. After the election, the President is appointed by the Supreme Leader and takes the oath.


Under Articles 123 to 130 of the Constitution, the President has the following duties: 1) He should sign the laws passed by the Parliament and has the duty to enforce them; 2) He signs the international treaties and agreements as the representative of Iran; and 3) He appoints the ambassadors proposed by the foreign minister. Upon the sickness, death or absence of the President, his first deputy must fulfill his duties, according to Articles 131 and 132 of the Constitution.


b)     Ministries

Under Articles 133 to 136 posit that the President appoints the ministers and introduces them to the Parliament for approval. In case of the dismissal by the President, resignation, disapproval or interpolation of any individual minister, he/she is dismissed. Article 138 states that each individual minister and the Council of Ministers has the right to issue administrative regulations to implement laws.


According to Article 137 of the Constitution, “each of the ministers is responsible for his duties to the President and the Parliament, and in matters approved by the Council of Ministers as a whole, he is also responsible for the actions of the others.”


D.     The Judicial Power

Articles 156 to 174 of the Constitution regulate the judiciary. The judiciary is an independent power from the Executive and Legislative branches and the Head of Judiciary is appointed by the Supreme Leader. He appoints the head of general and specific courts. According to Article 156 of the Constitution, the Judiciary has the following duties:


1.       investigating and passing judgment on grievances, violations of rights, and complaints; resolving of litigations; settling of disputes; and taking of all necessary decisions and measures in probate matters as the law may determine;

2.      restoring public rights and promoting justice and legitimate freedoms;

3.      supervising the proper enforcement of laws;

4.      uncovering crimes; prosecuting, punishing, and chastising criminals; and enacting the penalties and provisions of the Islamic Penal Code;

5.      taking suitable measures to prevent the occurrence of crime and to reform criminals. [10]


Under Article 160 of the Constitution, the relationship between the Judiciary, the Executive and Legislative powers are managed by the Minister of Justice who is appointed by the President from the nominees introduced by the Head of Judiciary.


a)     Court System [11]

Currently, the court system consists of general and specific courts. General courts have a general jurisdiction to hear all cases except for cases within the jurisdiction of the specific courts. In most courts, in addition to preliminary hearing, parties have the right to pleading to the court of appeal. The courts’ decisions (as opposed to the Supreme Court’s and Administrative Court’s authoritative decisions as for future cases) do not have any precedential value and are not usually codified or documented for the future reference by other courts.


General courts have the jurisdiction to hear all cases unless it is with the jurisdiction of a specific court by the law. The general courts consist of preliminary and courts of appeals. The preliminary courts’ and courts of appeals’ branches are divided into civil and criminal courts. Also, there are some semi-judicial and non-judicial bodies to hear cases.


1.      Dispute Settlement Councils

Dispute Settlement Councils are part of the judiciary but are supposed to function as an alternative dispute resolution body. They were first established under Article 189 of the 2001 Third Economic, Social, and Cultural Development Plan. In 2009, the Parliament passed Dispute Settlement Councils Act that is still in force.


According to Articles 8 and 10, parties to a dispute may agree on filing their case in dispute settlement councils except in cases regarding marriage, divorce, waqf , will, bankruptcy, lack of capacity, and public and government owned properties.


Under Article 9, in the absence of the parties’ agreement, councils hear following cases between natural and legal non-governmental parties: 1) supervising the properties of people who are under-age, insane, absent, suffering from incapacity and intestacy without any known beneficiaries; 2) pecuniary disputes in villages for a maximum of 20 million Rials and in urban areas for a maximum of 50 million Rials; 3) tenant eviction for residential properties; and 4) determining the beneficiaries of a will or intestacy. The general civil courts hear the appeal from their decisions.


2.      Civil Courts

Civil courts hear local pecuniary and nonpecuniary civil disputes [12] that is not within the jurisdiction of Dispute Settlement Councils ( Shurāhā-i hal-i ikhtilāf ). [13]  


Family courts:


Under Article 4 of the 2013 Family Protection Law, family courts hear following cases; 1) engagement and related damages, 2) permanent, temporary marriage, and permission to remarry , 3) marriage contract clauses, 4) re-marriage, 5) marital property brought in by wife, 6) dowry, 7) alimony and payments for wife’s services, 8) refusal of performing the conjugal duty by wife,  9) divorce,  nullification of marriage, and termination of temporary marriage, 10) custody and parental visitation right, 11) parentage, 12) capacity, 13) guardianship, 14) alimony for family members other than wife, 15) managing absentee’s property, 16) guardianship of orphans, 17) embryo transplant, and 18) sex reassignment surgery.


According to Article 2 of the 2013 Family Protection Law, the court has a judge and a female consulting judge. The judge issues the decision after consulting the written opinion of the female consulting judge.


3.      Criminal Courts

Criminal courts hear criminal cases and have been going through recent structural changes. The new Islamic Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, passed respectively in 2013 and 2014, are the most recent changes in the Iranian criminal justice system. Under Article 294 of the 2014 Criminal Procedure Act, the criminal courts are as follows:

First Class Criminal Court, Second Class Criminal Court, Revolutionary Court, Juvenile Court, and Military Court. [14]


First Class Criminal Court:


Three judges sit in First Class Criminal Courts. First Class Criminal Courts are provincial (Article 296).  Under Article 302, First Class Criminal Court has jurisdiction to hear following cases: Capital punishment cases, life sentences, limb amputation and body injuries with a third of blood money punishment, degree four and higher felonies, political crimes, and press crimes. Under Article 305, First Class Criminal Court has jurisdiction to hear political and press crimes. A jury has to be present at such trials.


Second Class Criminal Court:


Only one judge sits in Second Class Criminal Court (Article 295). Second Class Criminal Courts are based in counties.  Under Article 299, the Head of Judiciary may decide to establish county courts instead of second class criminal courts with the same jurisdiction.  Second Class Criminal Court has a general jurisdiction to hear all cases except cases within jurisdiction of special courts and First Class Criminal Court (Article 301). 


Revolutionary Court (Dādgāh Inghilāb):


Under Article 297, the revolutionary courts are in session with three judges in capital punishment, life sentence, and limb imputation, felonies on body injuries with a minimum of one third worth of blood money punishment. In other cases, the court only has one judge.


Revolutionary court has jurisdiction to hear 1) all crimes against national and international security, muhāribih or baqi and ifsād-i fi-l-arz [national armed terrorism] (respectively defined and criminalized in Articles 279 to 285 and Articles 286 to 288 of the 2013 Islamic Criminal Code), 2) insulting Imam Khumeini and the Supreme Leader, 3) all smuggling and drugs crime, and 4) other cases under laws designating the revolutionary court as the court with jurisdiction (Article 303).


The examples of such cases are crimes under Article 49 of the Constitution and some financial crimes. 


Under Article 49 of the Constitution, the state has to confiscate the income generated from ribā , qasb , bribery, embezzlement, larceny, gambling, misusing waqf , fraud (misusing) in governmental contracts and transactions, sale of mawāt and mubāhāt land, establishing brothels and other non- sharī’a activities. The retrieved property has to be returned to the owner and in the cases that the owner is unidentified the retrieved property has to be deposited to treasury ( biyt-ul-māl )).


F inancial crimes subject to the jurisdiction of revolutionary courts are a) disruption of monetary or foreign currency order in the country through bulk cash (foreign currency) smuggling, production or smuggling of counterfeit national or foreign coins or banknotes, b) bulk food hoarding and selling food or agricultural products more expensive, c) causing disorder in technical machines and raw materials market or bulk bribery in receiving production licenses with the effect of productivity policies of the government, d)attempt to smuggle the cultural heritage or national assets is smuggling even if unsuccessful and the property will be confiscated by the government, e) accepting bulk amount of money from real or legal persons in the name of muzāribih (partnership) and wasting them or disrupting the national economy, and f) group plotting to disrupt national export order by fraud in letters of credit or pricing fraud, and g) network marketing (added in 1384 [2006]) (Note: The cases filed before the amendment may be heard based on the rules in effect at the time). [15]


Juvenile Court:


Under Article 298, Juvenile Courts have a judge and two social workers (to counsel the judge.) Juvenile Courts are based in counties and the number of branches in each county varies.


According to Article 304, Juvenile Courts have jurisdiction to hear cases against children under 18. If the defendant reaches 18 during trial Juvenile Court will continue the trial. However, if before the trial starts, the defendant reaches 18, the case would be referred to a criminal court with jurisdiction. In the latter case, the defendant will still benefit from the privileges of trials in Juvenile Courts.


Military Court:


Military Courts hear cases against military and police forces if the crime is related to their duties and/or happened during the hours they have been on duty. (Article 307(2)). [16]


4.      The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal of both civil and criminal cases. [17] It is based in Tehran. Each branch has three judges. The judges have to have at least 10 years of experience as a judge or a lawyer, or be an Islamic scholar, or have studied Islamic jurisprudence in a seminary for 10 years.


The Supreme Court as a court of appeals does not issue a substantive decision. It only reviews cases with regards to the application and interpretation of law. It then sends the case to the lower court to review the facts and the law for a second time and issue a new decision. Lower courts do not have to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision. If the lower court issues the same decision as its earlier decision and the defendant appeals again, the case will be referred to the Supreme Court General Council in case the Supreme Court still issues a similar decision to its previous decision.


The Supreme Court also has jurisdiction to settle disputes between two courts from two different provinces on their jurisdiction to hear a case.  In addition, it may allow a criminal court without jurisdiction to hear a case if it is a more convenient forum for parties or is the place the crime was committed.


Furthermore, under 110 (10) of the 1979 Constitution, the Supreme Court hears cases against the President as a pre-condition for the Supreme Leader to be able to dismiss the President.


Finally, the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to grant a motion to reopen closed criminal cases.


The Supreme Court General Council:


The Supreme Court General Council hears cases regarding the conflict of interpretation of civil or criminal laws by different lower courts. The interpretation of the Supreme Court General Council has precedential value and can only be overruled by another decision by the Supreme Court General Council or subsequent legislation by the Parliament.


5.      Non-judicial Dispute Settlement Bodies


Article 100 of the Municipal Code Committee:


A committee is established under Article 100 of Municipal Code to hear the cases regarding construction without a building permit and violation of building permits. In each city, the municipality brings the cases in the committee established in that city. The committees have three members, including one nominee from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Judiciary, and the City Council. Also, the representative of the municipality attends the sessions to answer questions without a right to vote. The decision issued by the committee can be appealed. The appeal is heard in another committee (with different members from the preliminary committee which is designated informally as the appeal committee). The decisions issued from the second committee are final but can be appealed to the Administrative Court (Article 10(2) of Administrative Court Act.).


Employee-Employer Dispute Settlement Body:


Articles 157 to 166 of the 1990 Labor Law provided for the establishment of a non-judicial body to hear the disputes between employees and their employers. It includes a preliminary Dispute Settlement Body and Appellate Body. They both operate on a provincial level.


Dispute Settlement Body has three members, including a nominee from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, a nominee from employees appointed by the Council of Unions in the province, and a nominee from the employers appointed by the employers association of the province. The decisions of the Employee-Employer Dispute Settlement Body can be appealed. Appellate Body has nine members, three times the number of the members of Dispute Settlement Body with the same combination. The decisions of Appellate Body can be appealed to Administrative Court (Article 10(2) of Administrative Court Act.)


Tax Dispute Settlement Body:


Articles 244 to 251 of the 2002 Direct Tax Law (modified in 2009) provide for non-judicial dispute settlement on direct tax disputes.


Iranian National Tax Administration governs tax dispute settlement.  There are two bodies hearing the cases within Tax Administration: Tax Dispute Settlement Body and High Tax Council. Tax Dispute Settlement has different chapters in every province and act as both preliminary and appellate bodies. Each chapter has three members, including a nominee from Iranian National Tax Administration, a judge, and a nominee from the industry associations. The decisions by Tax Dispute Settlement Body can be appealed. The appeal will be heard by another chamber of Tax Dispute Settlement Body with different members. The decisions of the appellate Tax Dispute Settlement Body can be appealed to High Tax Council and the latter’s decisions can be appealed to Administrative Court (Article 10(2) of Administrative Court Act.)


Privatization Arbitration:


Under Articles 20 to 23 of the 2000 Law on Third Economic, Social, and Cultural Development Plan, the disputes regarding privatizing the sectors mentioned in the Article 44 of the 1979 Constitution would be referred to arbitration. Arbitral Body has seven members; 1) five experts in industry and legal matters appointed by the Cabinet of Iran from the candidates proposed by Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, Ministry of Judiciary, and the Head of Management and Planning Organization, 2) the Head of Iran Chamber of Cooperatives, 3) the Head of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture. The arbitral decisions are valid with a minimum of five votes. The decisions can be appealed to the court within 10 days after service on both parties.


Exchange Market Law Arbitration:


According to Articles 36 and 37 of the 2005 Exchange Market Law, disputes between brokers, investors, and other parties would be mediated first within the relevant associations. In case of the failure to settle the dispute, Exchange Market Law Arbitration has jurisdiction to hear the cases. The Arbitral tribunal has three members, one judge appointed by the Head of the Judiciary and two economic and finance experts appointed by High Exchange Market Council and suggested by Exchange Market Organization. The decision is final and is enforceable by the Enforcement Department of State Organization for Registration of Deeds and Properties.


Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture Arbitration:

An arbitral tribunal is established according to Article 5(H) of the 1994 Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture Law and the 2001 Law on Charter of Iranian Arbitral Tribunal. The Tribunal hears domestic and international trade disputes. The Tribunal is based in Tehran at Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture. Parties to a domestic or international trade agreement may choose the Tribunal as their arbitrator.


b)     Administrative Court (Dīvān-i idālat-i idārī)

The Administrative Court is the highest court that hears the administrative disputes according to the 2013 Administrative Court Act. It is based in Tehran. Each preliminary branch has one judge and each branch of court of appeals has 3 judges. A judge with at least 10 years of experience or a judge with 5 years of experience if he has a graduate degree or an equivalent in Islamic studies can be appointed by the Head of Judiciary to the Administrative Court. [18]


In addition to preliminary and appeal courts, under Article 8, Administrative Court General Council hears some cases. Two third of Administrative Court judges have to be present at each session of General Council and the decision is valid by majority vote.


According to Article 10 of 2013 Administrative Court Act, Administrative Court has jurisdiction over following cases: 1) cases that people (private parties) bring against the public (non-private, i.e. ministries, organizations, institutes, public companies, municipalities, the revolutionary institutions) [19] employees’ decisions and actions; 2) appeal from the decisions rendered by preliminary administrative courts, such as Tax Commissions, Employee and Employer Dispute Settlement Council, and Municipality Commission under Article 100 of the Municipality Act; and 3) cases brought by public employees and judges regarding their employment disputes.


Under Article 12, Administrative Court General Council has jurisdiction to hear cases against administrative regulations. It can also issue a decision with a precedential value in order to resolve the conflict between different branches of Administrative Court or reach a consensus in repetitive cases.


c)      Arbitration

According to Articles 454 to 501 of Civil Procedure of General and Revolutionary Courts Act, parties may refer their cases before or after bringing it to the court to arbitration by agreement with the agreed terms and conditions.  Upon the parties’ agreement and death or incapacity of any of them, the arbitration is nullified.


Exceptions: 1) The parties should not refer disputes over marriage, divorce, paternity and bankruptcy to arbitration; 2) Iranian parties should not agree on choosing an arbitrator with the same nationality as their counterparty if he/she is non-Iranian before the dispute arises; 3) Bringing a case involving public and governmental properties should be approved by the Council of Ministers and after announcing it to the Parliament; 4) In major cases and the disputes with non-Iranians, the Parliament should approve the arbitration.


d)     Enforcement of Judgments and Arbitral Awards

In order to enforce judgments and arbitral awards, the judiciary has an enforcement department. In criminal cases, police enforces the decisions and in civil cases the plaintiff should follow up on the procedure. After filing his/her request for enforcement, the enforcement department requires complete information of immovable or movable properties of the defendant that the plaintiff wishes to fulfill the judgments from. Through sale of the properties or transfer of the ownership to the plaintiff, the judgment is enforced.


e)     Lawyering

Lawyers are members of either regional bar associations or the judiciary bar.


1.      Regional bar associations (Kānūn wukalā-i dādgustarī)

Bar associations are independent non-profit non-political organizations established and managed by lawyers. In order to become a lawyer, applicants must meet following requirements: 1) have a bachelor degree in law or an equivalent; and 2) successfully pass the multiple choice bar exam, finish an eighteen-month training, submit an essay on a pre-determined topic, pass the oral and written qualification exam, and take the oath. [20]


2.      Judiciary Bar (Markaz-i umūr-i mushāvirān, wukalā wa kārshināsān-i quwiy-i qazāīyih)

The Judiciary established judiciary bar in 2000. In order to obtain the license, applicants should take the judiciary bar exam, fulfill a six-month training, pass the final exam and take an oath.


Lawyers are admitted to a specific city and have to establish their law firms in that city only but they may file claims or defend cases in any court throughout the country.


III.            Related Information


A.     Legal Guides and Resources


a)      All laws, administrative regulations, the Supreme Court’s decisions and the Administrative Court’s decisions are published in Iranian Official Gazette in hard copy and are available online here .

b)     The Parliament has a database of all laws, administrative regulations, the Supreme Court’s decisions and the Administrative Court’s decisions issued since it was established here .

c)      The Administrative Court provides a database of all its authoritative decisions here .

d)     The Iranian Central Bar Association also has an online database for doing a legal research here .

e)      The list of notaries is available here .

f)       Iranian National Tax Administration provides a database for related information to conduct a legal research on tax issues that is available here .

g)      Central Bank of Iran has a collection of laws and regulations related to banking law here .

h)     Securities and Exchange Organization and Tehran Stock Exchange Corporation provide information to conduct research on Iranian securities market and laws.

i)       Articles and notes can be found here .

1.       The Iranian Research Institute for Information Science and Technology

2.      Scientific Information Database (SID)


B.     Official Websites


a)      The Supreme Leader

b)     The Judiciary

c)      The Islamic Assembly (Parliament)

d)     The President

e)      The Government of Islamic Republic of Iran

f)       The Expediency Council

g)      The Guardian Council

h)     The Official Gazette

i)       The General Prosecutor

j)       The Ministry of Justice

k)      The Supreme Court

l)       The Administrative Supreme Court

m)    The Arbitration Center of Iran Chamber

n)     National Organization for Registration and Properties

o)      Iranian Central Bar Association

p)     The Judiciary Bar

q)     The Notary Bar

r)      The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance

s)      National Tax Organization

t)       The Central Bank

u)     The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

v)      The Securities and Exchange Organization

w)     The Organization for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran


C.     Important Libraries


a)      The Database for Iranian Libraries

b)     The National Library and Archives of Iran

c)      The Library, Museum and Archives of Islamic Assembly

d)     The Library of Political and International Studies

e)      The Central Library, Archives and Database of the University of Tehran

f)       The Iranian Research Institute for Information Science and Technology


D.     Law Faculties


a)      The University of Tehran, Faculty of Law and Political Sciences

b)     The University of Tehran, Qom Campus, Faculty of Law

c)      The University of Tehran Kish International Campus, Humanities Department

d)     Shahid Beheshti University, Faculty of Law

e)      Allameh Tabatabai University, Faculty of Law and Political Sciences

f)       Shahed University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Law

g)      Tarbiat Modares University, Faculty of Humanities, Law Department

h)     Imam Sadiq University, Faculty of Law and Islamic Theology

i)       Islamic Azad University

j)       University of Isfahan, Administrative and Economics Faculty, Law Department

k)      Shiraz University, Faculty of Law and Political Sciences

l)       Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences, Law Department

m)    The University of Tabriz, Faculty of Law and Social Sciences

n)     Semnan University, Faculty of Humanities, Law Department

o)      Qom University, Faculty of Law

p)     Kashan University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Law

q)     The University of Guilan, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Law

r)      The University of Mazandaran

s)      The University of Judicial Sciences and Administrative Services

t)       Mofid University, Department of Law


[1] I am grateful to Dr. Nafiseh Shooshinasab and Fahimeh Firouzbakht (Ph.D. Candidate) for their helpful comments.

[4] Per Articles 15 to 18 of the 1979 Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran amended in 1989.

[5] Article 44 posits that “ The economy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is to consist of three sectors: state, cooperative, and private, and is to be based on systematic and sound planning. The state sector is to include all large-scale and mother industries, foreign trade, major minerals, banking, insurance, power generation, dams and large-scale irrigation networks, radio and television, post, telegraph and telephone services, aviation, shipping, roads, railroads and the like; all these will be publicly owned and administered by the State. The cooperative sector is to include cooperative companies and enterprises concerned with production and distribution, in urban and rural areas, in accordance with Islamic criteria. The private sector consists of those activities concerned with agriculture, animal husbandry, industry, trade, and services that supplement the economic activities of the state and cooperative sectors. Ownership in each of these three sectors is protected by the laws of the Islamic Republic, in so far as this ownership is in conformity with the other articles of this chapter, does not go beyond the bounds of Islamic law, contributes to the economic growth and progress of the country, and does not harm society. The [precise] scope of each of these sectors, as well as the regulations and conditions governing their operation, will be specified by law.” The Constitution of Iran is available online at http://www.iranonline.com/iran/iran-info/government/constitution.html .

[6] Also, the law authorized Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance to manage the process (Article 7.5) that later established an organization for this purpose.

[7] Under Article 107 of the Constitution, the Assembly of Experts members are elected by the direct vote of the people.

[8] English Text of the Constitution of 1979 as Amended at Referendum of 7-28-1989 1 1979 ( http://heinonline.org ) at 30-31.

[9] As of June 15, 2015.

[10] English Text of the Constitution of 1979 as Amended at Referendum of 7-28-1989 ( http://heinonline.org ) at 40.

[11] The list of courts introduced in this section is not exclusive and there are other judicial and non-judicial dispute settlement bodies. This is a summary of the most important bodies.

[12] The 1379 [2000] Civil Procedure of General and Revolutionary Courts Act ( Qānūn Āi’īn-i Dādrisī-i Dādgāh-hāi-i Umūmī wa Inqilāb dar Umūr-i Madanī ).

[13] The 1387 [2008] Dispute Settlement Councils Act ( ghānūn-i shurāhā-i hal-i ikhtilāf ).

[14] According to Article 307 of the 2014 Criminal Procedure Act, only Criminal Courts in Tehran have jurisdiction to hear following cases; criminal cases against the Head of Parliament, the President, and the Head of Judiciary, their deputies, and their advisers, the Head and members of the Expediency Council, the members of the Guardian Council, representatives of the Parliament and the Council of Experts, ministers and their deputies, judges, the Head and Prosecutor of Supreme Audit Court, ambassadors, government representatives in provinces, governors in the capital cities of each province, non-military crimes of some high ranking military and police forces. In addition, under Article 140 of the Constitution, crimes committed by the President, his deputies, and ministers are heard in criminal courts after giving notice to the Parliament.

[15] Act Punishing Disruption of National Economy ( Qānūn-i Mujāzāt-i Ikhlālgarān dar Nizām-i Iqtisādī-i Kīshvar ) 1369 [1990].

[16] There is also a specific court called the Clergy Courts (Dādgāh-hā-yi Vīji-yi Ruhānīat) that hear all criminal cases against clergies (Islamic jurists).  Act Establishing Clergies Courts ( Qānūn-i tashkīl-i dādsarāhā wa dādgāh-hāi wīji ruhānīat ) 1369 [1990].

[17] For the Supreme Court jurisdiction in criminal cases see Articles 462 to 473 of the 2013 Criminal Procedure Act.

[18] Articles 1 to 4 of 2013 Administrative Court Act.

[19] After the 1979 Revolutions, some organizations were established in order to manage the emerging economic, social, and cultural issues in the country, including Islamic Revolution Mostazafan Foundation and Khomeini’s Underprivileged Foundation.

[20]   Independence of Bar Association Act (Lāyihyeh qānūnī istiqlāl-i kānūn wukalāy-i dādgustarī) 1333[1954] and Act on How to Be Admitted to Bar Association (Qānūn-i nahviy-i akhz-i parwāniyeh wikālat) 1376[1997].