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Lawyers welcome changes to court system

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, April 30
Georgian lawyers state that the Law on United Courts will only be positive for the freedom of courts in Georgia.

The lawyers emphasized that without a free and impartial court system, the country's progress democratic development will be impeded. They stressed that a free court is the basis for the country’s economic development and business encouragement.

“The violation of the law from an individual is less dangerous when there is a guarantee in the state that the court will restore justice,” the statement reads.

The lawyers welcomed the planned changes in the Supreme Council of Justice and highlighted that less interference in the council’s activities from the president’s or the Supreme Court’s side will have a positive effect on the functioning of the courts.

“Achieving real autonomy of the court system is possible through involving the judges in court system administration and the creation of a real self-governing structure,” the lawyers suggested.

The lawyers underscored that the law adopted by the parliament has responded public demands of a free court system. They stated that the law was supported by the Venice Commission and NGOs.

“The law should be supported by all political forces inside the country, as it serves the state's interests,” the lawyers said.

It should be noted that there are 15 members in the Supreme Council of Justice. According to new rules adopted by the parliament, six members will be elected by the parliament via secret ballot from candidates nominated by NGOs, law schools and the law departments of various universities and the Georgian Bar Association.

These six members will then be confirmed by the parliament with a two-thirds majority vote.

An additional eight seats on the council will be filled by judges and elected by the judiciary’s self-governing body– the Conference of Judges. The current rules also make it possible for a judge to be elected not directly by this conference, but by its nine-member administrative committee. The latter rule will be abolished in the new system.

The law strips the Supreme Court Chairman of his current exclusive right to nominate candidates for council membership; every judge will have the right to nominate a candidate. The voting process will be confidential. The President will not be able to appoint two members of the council.

Georgia's president vetoed the law, stating that the law did not reflect the recommendations of the Venice Commission. The President returned the law to the Parliament with his remarks, demanding the staff of the current council not to be changed until its terms expire and the president has the right to appoint one member of the council.

The parliamentary majority did not foresee the remarks and stated that the parliament is ready to overcome the veto.

Parliament chair, Davit Usupashvili, pointed out that Saakashvili's objections run counter to the recommendations of the Venice Commission.