18 April, 2019

Judgement on the Case "Irakli Khvedelidze vs. Parliament of Georgia"

On 18 April 2019, the Constitutional Court of Georgia granted a constitutional complaint N1263 of a citizen of Georgia, Irakli Khvedelidze, and declared unconstitutional the provision of the Administrative Offences Code of Georgia that set 10-day time limit to challenge an order issued in an administrative case at the Court of Appeals.

The complainant argued that in case an applicant in an administrative case fails to lodge a complaint to the Court of Appeals within 10 days, the case is effectively rejected. It is notable that the 10-day deadline starts when the operative part of the administrative order is notified and does not give account to a delay (which may, in fact, exceed 10 days) in serving the reasoned finding of the court of the first instance. The given regulatory conjuncture has compelled the complainant to bring an unfounded appeal against a court decision, as the reasons behind the latter were unknown to the applicant in an administrative case. It thus followed that due to the disputed law, the appeals procedure was rendered as an ineffective remedy, which per complainant’s position, contradicted the constitutional right to a fair trial.

The respondent, the Parliament of Georgia, indicated that if an administrative complaint is lodged at the Court of Appeals within 10 days that is not appropriately reasoned, it would not be rejected. Thus, a delay in notification of the court’s reasoning will not affect the procedural guarantees of the applicant in an administrative case. The respondent further indicated that the impugned regulation serves the legitimate aims of the prevention of administrative offences, as well as a timely response thereof.

The Constitutional Court analysed the relevant legislation and jurisprudence of the common courts, and found that the disputed regulation compelled an applicant in an administrative case to lodge an unfounded complaint within 10 days at the Court of Appeals and enclose respective reasoning following a motivated decision of the court of the first instance was served. The Constitutional Court sided with the complainant and emphasised that the given regulatory solution impedes an effective realisation of the constitutional right to appeal.

The Constitutional Court further indicated that provided a reasoned finding of the court is not served in a timely manner, the Court of Appeals has to wait until such reasoning is available to assess its legality. Thus, the Constitutional Court did not accept the claim that the impugned law aimed to expedite the completion of appeals proceedings. For these reasons, the Constitutional Court found that the disputed provision failed to be an adequate measure for attaining declared legitimate objectives and pronounced it unconstitutional.