Compliance with Procedural Time Limits for Considering Cases and Preparing Judgments in Tbilisi City Court - Practice of 2015-2018

News | Research | Rule of Law | Publications 8 May 2019

The excessive caseload of common courts of Georgia has been a significant challenge for years. Procedural delays in case processing pose a risk of violating the right to a fair hearing within a reasonable period - the right to a fair trial. In addition, the abundance of cases may have an impact on the quality of judgments and their justification.

 

The purpose of this study is to present violation/compliance with procedural time limits for considering cases and preparing judgments in Tbilisi City Court, which is the mostoverloaded court in the country.

 

Key Findings:

 

- “The rule for evaluation of effectiveness of performance of judges of common courts” approved by the High Council of Justice is largely focused on the entire judicial system and not on individual judges. Consequently, there are two different processes overlapping each other - assessment of the quality of the judiciary and the professional evaluation of individual judges.

 

- The existing rule for the evaluation of judges is ineffective for the purposes of assessing the performance of individual judges as well as the entire judicial system and for determining the necessary number of judges.

 

- Statistical data envisaged by the rule for evaluation does not provide a whole picture regarding the caseload of the courts and the current state of the judicial system.

 

- The High Council of Justice has not approved the rule and methodology for determining the necessary number of judges in each court, which is a significant shortcoming.

 

- From 2015 to the first half of 2018, procedural time limits for considering cases were violated in 4 660 cases out of 51 561 completed civil cases in Tbilisi City Court.

 

- From 2015 to the first half of 2018, procedural time limits for considering cases were violated in 5 601 cases out of 15 451 completed administrative cases in Tbilisi City Court.

 

- From 2015 to the first half of 2018, time limits forpreparing judgments were mainly violated in administrative cases in Tbilisi City Court.

 

- From 2015 to the first half of 2018, time limits for preparing judgments were violated in 4 123 cases out of 15 349 administrative cases in Tbilisi City Court.

 

- The statistics provided by the High Council of Justice do not include information regarding the duration of delay in considering cases and, therefore, it is not clear whether the delay constitutes such a breach, which poses a risk of violating the right to a fair trial.

 

- During electronic case distribution in common courts only the quantity of cases is taken into account and the system does not take into consideration the weight and complexity of a case. Consequently, there is a risk that cases between judges are not equally distributed by weight, which creates unequal conditions for them.

 

Ensuring the quality and efficiency of justice is one of the main functions of the High Council of Justice. The Council should study information regarding compliance/violation of time limits, including the duration of delay as well as caseload and consideration of cases in courts.  Results of processing of these data should be published periodically in order to inform the public about the situation in the judiciary.

 

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