Court Monitoring Report on Administrative Cases14 June, 2012
Tbilisi, 14th of June – Transparency International Georgia presents the results of a four month court monitoring project. After monitoring 252 hearings on 108 cases, TI Georgia has revealed the strong and weak aspects of the judiciary concerning their procedures used at administrative hearings. The following findings are positive observations:
- Except for a few cases, the right to a public hearing was not violated in Batumi and Tbilisi City Courts.
- The adversarial principle was observed in the vast majority of cases – the disputing parties had the opportunity to provide their arguments, to plead, to examine evidence, to question witnesses, and to conduct all relevant procedural actions stipulated by legislation.
At the same time, it should be highlighted that the monitoring process also revealed significant problematic areas:
- The state party was found to be wholly or partially successful in 92.6% of the cases monitored.
- Judges lacked initiative during the hearings and seemed very reluctant to use their inquisitorial powers. This is of significant concern, as the court’s inquisitorial powers are vitally important in insuring that a legal balance is maintained between public institutions and private parties.
- Judges were reluctant to actively offer and to contribute to the settlement of dispute.
- There is also reason to think that judges are sometimes not well-acquainted with a case when rendering a decision, and they are possibly more interested in resolving the case quickly instead of ensuring that justice is served.
Although TI Georgia monitored only a limited sample of cases and did not evaluate the merits of the cases or review the case files, the extremely high success rate of state parties is nonetheless of possible concern. In the opinion of TI Georgia, the development of Georgia’s judiciary may be impeded as a result of the potentially troubling success rate of state parties and the lack of observance of the fundamental legal principles mentioned above.
TI Georgia chose to focus its court monitoring project on cases involving property rights. Considering this focus, we filtered the schedule and prioritized cases where the Public Registry, Property Rights Declaration Commission or Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development were involved. If no such hearing was scheduled, monitors attended cases randomly.
The following criteria have been monitored by TI Georgia:
- Right to a Public Hearing;
- Handling of the Hearing by the Judge;
- Inquisitorial Principle ( Judges' Initiative);
- Adversarial Principle (Equality of Arms, Unbiased Settlement of Dispute).
The report is prepared under the auspices of Judicial Independence and Legal Empowerment Project. The Project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the East-West Management Institute (EWMI).