Updated: Oct 4, 2021
Court decisions are no longer published on the new official website for three months. The last decision is dated April 30.
The presentation of the new website was held by the High Council of Justice in June last year. The secretary of the council Giorgi Mikautadze said:
We asked the High Council of Justice about publishing delay and got the answer:
"There are some technical delays in uploading decisions on ecd.court.ge. In addition, after the decision of the Constitutional Court, the Parliament must adopt regulations regarding the delineation of decisions. One of the working meetings on the issue was held a few weeks ago at the initiative of the parliament, which was also attended by members of the High Council of Justice." This answer refers to the decision made by the Constitutional Court in June last year, according to which the Constitutional Court ruled that: "The full text of court decisions obtained as a result of an open court hearing is subject to the release of public information. Access to the full text of the court act, including, implies access to personal data contained in the court act."
Requesting court decisions in the form of public information became complicated in 2015, which the court explained in accordance with the requirements of the Law on Personal Data Protection. This was followed by a lawsuit filed by two organizations in the Constitutional Court:
"The lawsuits of the Media Development Fund and the Freedom of Information Institute were upheld by the Constitutional Court and declared unconstitutional: The normative content of the first part of Article 44, Article 5 and the first and third paragraphs of Article 5 of the Law of Georgia on Personal Data Protection, which precludes the issuance of the full text of court acts adopted as a result of an open court in the form of public information. ” The Constitutional Court ruled that several articles of the Georgian Law on Personal Data Protection, due to which interested citizens could not make court decisions, had been invalid since May 1, 2020 (composition of the decision-making panel: Merab Turava Eva Gotsiridze Giorgi Kverenchkhiladze Maia Kopaleishvili)."
This date coincides with the suspension of the publication of decisions on ecd.court.ge. The Constitutional Court has given time to the Parliament until May 1 to pass the amendments. The Committee on Legal Affairs is working on this issue, the deadline has passed, but the legislative changes have not been adopted yet.
Maia Chochua, Deputy Head of the EU Court Support Project, is well aware of this issue. According to her, in order to help the parliament to improve the legislation, they also conducted a study:
"Our organization prepared a study for the parliament. We hired former judge of the Constitutional Court Maia Kopaleishvili as an expert. Parliament is obliged and compelled to take into account the decision of the Constitutional Court, so we considered that expert Maia Kopaleishvili would be best able to provide additional explanations and additional recommendations with our European experts: in what form and how the legislation can be drafted. This study reviews both the rulings of the Constitutional Court and the practices of Europe and the United States."
Ketevan Kukava, head of the Rule of Law Institute of one of the plaintiff organizations, the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information, believes that the court should not wait for legislative changes and should already publish and issue rulings in the form of public information:
"As of May 1, 2020, the relevant articles of the Personal Data Protection Act have been repealed, prohibiting access to the full text. From 1 May, the courts are obliged to be guided directly by the standard set by the Constitutional Court and must make these decisions fully public. However, we see that no decision has been published on the website since 30 April, which is probably due to the fact that the Parliament did not adopt the legislative change within the set deadline and this issue has not been regulated at the legislative level. This is inconsistent with the decision of the Constitutional Court and the courts are obliged to be guided directly by the standard set by the Constitutional Court and to publish the full text of the decisions.”