Forms of Narrow Specialisations in Georgian Common Court System
Legal disputes in Tbilisi City Court and Tbilisi Court of Appeals are narrowly specialised in all spheres. According to the official explanation, narrow specializations help judges in time management and case administration. However, unfortunately, in many cases, specialization is created without justification. Furthermore creating a specialization, among other problems, increases the risk of manipulating the distribution of cases.
Transparency International-Georgia has studied the practice of creating narrow specializations, their effectiveness and the risks that may arise from existing forms of specialization:
- The Court chairpersons assign judges to narrow specialisations at their sole discretion. Such practice is dangerous because the existence of this kind of levers generates risks of manipulating the electronic distribution of cases.
- The practice of appointing judges to narrow specialisations is unsubstantiated and is not based on any pre-defined objective criteria.
- Rotation of judges between narrow specialisations is unpredictable and unsubstantiated. For example, the presiding judge may at any time, individually and unreasonably, change the narrow specialization of a judge.
- The High Council of Justice stated that the reason for the creation of narrow specialisations in the common court system was a case overload. However, the Council has not carried out appropriate measures to address this problem in years. For example, the system has not been replenished with a sufficient number of judges.
- The introduction of narrow specializations in the Tbilisi Court of Appeals suggests that an influential group of judges did not rule out the possibility of manipulating the case distribution system.
- It should be positively assessed that narrow specializations do not apply in courts where there is a small number of judges.
- The existing forms of narrow specialisations must be abolished. The creation of narrow specialisation for a specific area must be based on the objective need established as a result of research;
- The High Council of Justice rather than court chairpersons must assign narrow specialisations to judges;
- The criteria for assigning narrow specialisations to judges must be established. It is important to consider qualification of judges in corresponding areas and specific skills required by concrete specialisations;
- The need for decisions to assign/change the specialisation of a judge must be properly substantiated in each specific case;
- The legal scope of the narrow specialisation for commercial disputes needs to be refined so that it is not linked solely to an amount;
- The problem of overload must be addressed by increasing the number of judges and correct management of common courts, not by introducing narrow specialisations.