20.02.2023

What did the creation of the Supreme Court qualification chamber change?


Appointment of judges of the first and second instance courts is the central authority of the High Council of Justice.

A judicial candidate who has been refused appointment as a judge by the High Council of justice may appeal the decision to the qualifying Chamber of the Supreme Court of Georgia.
 
The Supreme Court qualifying chamber was established in 2014. According to the rules established by the Organic Law of Georgia" on common courts " 35 4, 36 5, and 36 6, it will consider the complaints of the candidates/judges who:

  • They were denied tenure for 3 years;
  • They were denied lifetime appointment to the position.

Since the Supreme Court qualification chamber hears complaints about the decisions of the High Council of justice, to avoid conflicts of interest, the organic law prohibits the same person from simultaneously holding the position of a member of the High Council of justice and a member of the Supreme Court qualification chamber.

Composition and staffing of the qualifying chamber


The qualifying chamber has 3 members, who are elected by the plenum of the Supreme Court of Georgia for a term of 3 years. Any member of the plenum has the right to nominate a candidate to elect a member of the Chamber of qualification.

In case the plenum of the Supreme Court fails to elect the nominated candidate twice, the chairperson of the Supreme Court shall have the right to appoint an acting member of the Chamber of qualification from among the members of the Supreme Court for a period of not more than 6 months before the election of the member of the Chamber of qualification.

An acting member of the Chamber of qualification may be appointed in one more case: when a member of the Chamber of qualification has grounds for recusal under the procedural legislation of Georgia in connection with a specific complaint, he/she is obliged to withdraw from the consideration of the case for the time of consideration of the complaint. In such circumstances, the chairman of the Supreme Court shall appoint an acting member of the Chamber of qualification from among the members of the Supreme Court for the period of consideration of the complaint.

The chairperson of the Supreme Court has the power to dismiss a member of the qualifying chamber only with the consent of the plenum of the Supreme Court.

How much did the qualifying chamber justify positive expectations?


The creation of the Supreme Court qualification chamber as a mechanism for appealing decisions of the High Council of justice was a progressive initiative, which raised expectations that the principles of fairness and objectivity would be more ensured in judicial competitions. However, the practice of hearing complaints by the qualifying chamber presents the opposite picture.

In 2017-2021, 11 complaints were filed for consideration in the qualifying Chamber, 4 of which were not satisfied, and 5 cases were not accepted by the chamber into proceedings.

Out of 11, 4 complaints belonged to candidates who failed to advance to the voting stage, and the qualifying chamber refused to accept their complaints because candidates who were not admitted to the voting stage did not have the right to appeal the decision of the council.

It should be borne in mind that this approach of the Supreme Court qualification chamber contradicts the 2017 decision of the Constitutional Court of Georgia on April 7, according to which the right of a candidate to a reasoned decision applies to decisions made at various stages of the entire selection process, and not only to the refusal received at the voting stage.

It should also be noted that the participants of the judicial competition are less likely to use the mechanism of appealing the decision made during the competition process. This is confirmed by the scarce statistics of appeals to the qualifying chamber since 2014, and even in case of appeal, the qualifying chamber either does not take the case at all in proceedings or leaves the decision of the High Council of Justice unchanged.

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Keti Gachechiladze