Record low competition in the judicial system: 76 vacancies for judges have less than 20 candidates


On February 4, Nazi Janezashvili, director of the Georgian Court Watch, and representatives of the organization held a briefing in front of the Tbilisi City Court about the competition of judges currently taking place in the court system. According to the organization, overcrowding of courts and delaying of cases in Georgia has long been an acute and unsolved problem, one of the reasons of which is the small number of judges. Therefore, filling the court with the required number of qualified and bona fide new staff is one solution to reduce the overcrowding of the judiciary. In contrast, the observation of the competitions announced for the vacant places of judges shows that the number of people wishing to become judges in the country is decreasing day by day.

Currently, there are about 310 current judges and about 100 free vacancies in Georgia, while, according to the current competition, there are less than 20 candidates for the position.

On November 20, 2022, the High Council of Justice announced a competition for 76 vacant positions of judges in District (City) and appellate courts. The deadline for accepting applications was determined in 2022 November 28-December 14; while interviews with candidates were conducted during January 23-25. The Council of Justice has not yet selected judges within the framework of this competition.

The current competition has a record-low competition rate. Initially, 21 persons expressed the desire to participate in the competition for 76 vacant positions of judges, and all of them, after meeting the formal criteria, moved to the second stage of the competition. Later, the number of participants decreased even more, since several of them withdrew their candidacies. At the same time, more than half of the candidates are acting judges (they want to move to another court or be appointed for life), which means that in case of the successful passage of the competition, the existing picture, in terms of the number of judges, will not change, since they already exercise judicial powers. As for candidates who are not acting judges, their number is less than 10.

The High Council of Justice is not interested in new staff entering the system. Its decisions on the appointment of judges are discretionary to a large extent, hindering the attraction of outside cadres to the court.

In conditions of lacking competition, the Council of Justice does not need special efforts to substantiate the decisions made during the selection process. The circle of persons who have prospects for appointment as judges is quite shallow. This has two reasons: one is the lack of interest in a court career, which is largely explained by distrust of the High Council of Justice and selection processes; the other is the caution of the High Council of Justice not to allow unpredictable and uncontrolled staff to enter the system. The task of the Judicial Council to staff the courts with such staff is easily achieved by the fact that judging is no longer attractive to a large number of qualified, experienced lawyers.

In the face of low interest in careers in the judiciary, measures need to be taken that ensure the openness of the judiciary in order to fill the courts with new professional staff.

Number of judicial jobs and applicants by year: