Turgay Huseynov: "Judicial reform will ensure justice and efficiency of courts in Azerbaijan"
One of the main April events in Azerbaijan became President of the Republic Ilham Aliyev’s decree on deepening reforms in the judicial-legal system. The decree mandates, first of all, to increase the material and social security of judges, to ensure transparency and uniformity of court proceedings, to strengthen the monitoring of the activities of judges, prosecutors and lawyers. The document also requires the creation of a special court to review business disputes and other issues related to doing business, and about an increase in the total number of judges in Azerbaijan by 200 people. Vestnik Kavkaza talked with the member of the board of the Bar Association of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Turgay Huseynov, about how the implementation of the decree will affect the judicial and legal system of the country.
- Turgay Mualim, in your opinion, how will the material security increase of judges impact the quality of court proceedings?
- On our agenda, there always was a question that the salaries of judges were not enough to effectively fight against corruption. Of course, the growth of salaries will not become a panacea for all corrupt moments, but in any case, it will give a weighty impetus to the implementation of fair justice and will contribute to ensuring the independence of judges. An important aspect of the decree, which determines the source for additional financing of courts, is the differentiation of state fees depending on the size of the claims. Today, an economic dispute in the amount above 500 manats is considered in the first instance court for 30 manats, and in the appeals instance - for 15 manats. That is, for example, a duty of 30 manats and 15 manats is paid for a ten million lawsuit and court proceedings between two legal entities, and this is very little payment for such a level of responsibility. Bringing duties into dependence on the size of lawsuits will allow achieving another goal - it will be possible to exempt state fees from payment of certain social issues, and so the state will further ensure social justice by taking a part of the costs.
- What is the importance of increasing the requirements of judicial activities transparency for justice quality growth?
- It is very important to increase the availability of court documents, to facilitate their receipt from the court for review. Today, we are actively developing an information base, there is an Elektron hökumat service (Electronic Government), through which you can receive a subpoena in a court and decisions made by judges appear in your personal office - it does not work in all courts, but it is already created. This, of course, is a big advantage for our work. The government’s decision on the creation of an electronic information base, the Electronic Court, will significantly affect the transparency increase of the courts.
A paragraph on audio recordings of meetings is also important. Currently, for example, it is very difficult to obtain a copy of the court session minutes. If I have a desire to work with a civil case protocol and make comments, I can’t really get a copy, I can only read it. If the meeting is recorded, no one will have any complaints that the person did not say such words or, on the contrary, said something that was not reflected in the minutes.
- What role will play the formation of a single judicial practice in ensuring fair trials?
- We have a certain problem with this issue, in particular, there are similar cases on which the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal does not speak with one voice. The issue of unification should be dealt with by the Supreme Court, creating uniformity in decision-making on specific issues. It is clear that situations may be different, but, in any case, there should be an axis. With a unified judicial practice, it will be easier for the courts to consider similar cases, and those who will appeal to court will already know that their cases are decided in this way, they will understand what outcome of the proceedings to expect.
- How will an increase in the number of judges by 200 people affect the courts?
- Only positive. If you look at the current schedule of the courts, you will see that for one day the judges have to deal with a horribly large number of cases. Processes are appointed every 15 minutes, and it is difficult for judges to cope with such a load. It is unrealistic to solve 20 cases in a single day fairly and efficiently. Therefore, an increase in the number of judges by one third will significantly unload the courts.