Assessment of the Working Group Creation Process by the Legal Committee
The Georgian legislation envisions the creation of a Working Group by the Legal Committee in the process of selection of Supreme Court justices. The purpose of the Working Group is to check candidates’ compliance with the requirements of the Constitution and supporting legislation.
On September 11, the Committee invoked this clause. The Working Group was created. The Chair of the Committee stated that “the logic of the legal provisions and the Parliament Rules of Procedure do not envision a substantive assessment of a candidate by the Working Group, considering its format.”
The Coalition is assessing this decision by the Parliament Legal Committee. An institution suggested by the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament is a so-called “mixed commission,” consisting of both MPs and invited specialists. The main purpose of this institution is to study an issue comprehensively, considering both politicians’ and experts’ points of view. In “mixed commissions,” decisions are based on substantive and consensus-oriented discussions.
Under the Organic Law on Common Courts, judicial candidates must comply with two main criteria—competence and integrity. The purpose of the Working Group, as established in the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament, is to assist the Committee in checking candidates’ compliance with the requirements of the law. This purpose may not imply only formal review of decisions made by the High Council of Justice; the main purpose of the Working Group is to help the Committee decide whether the candidates nominated by the HCoJ substantively comply with the requirements of law.
Additionally, as mentioned above, the Working Group’s contribution involves the efforts of both politicians and outside experts. This excludes the technical nature of this institution. The aims of the Working Group as defined by the Committee during the hearing can easily be reached by the Parliament staff.
Currently, 16 members of the Working Group are known, including 7 representatives of the ruling party, 5 from the opposition, 2 from academia, one from the Legal Aid Service and one from the Georgian Bar Association. Consultations are in progress with independent MPs. No civil society organizations, including Coalition members, are represented in the Working Group. Considering the Coalition’s active engagement in the recent developments, this decision excludes a critical and competent player from the process. Moreover, the political quotas in the Working Group are inflated, and academic institutions were not involved in selecting their representatives.
The Coalition urges the Committee to review its decision and to ask the Working Group to substantively assess candidates nominated by the High Council of Justice, to decrease the number of MPs, to ensure engagement of civil society organizations and to increase the number of experts.
 The Parliament of Georgia Rules of Procedure, Article 205, Paragraph 2.
The Parliament web-page, http://parliament.ge/ge/saparlamento-
dadgenis-xelshewyobis-miznit-komitetis-samushao-djgufi-sheqmna.page, renewed: 12.09.2019