UPDATE: Georgian Legal Research

By Giorgi Meladze

Giorgi Meladze is the Associate Professor at Ilia State University, Director of the Center for Constitutional Research affiliated with Ilia State University, Georgia. Giorgi Meladze has worked with local and international governmental and non-governmental organizations. In Georgia he participated in Parliamentary and Government working groups working on Constitutional law, Criminal Law, and Fundamental Human Rights. In 2002-2003 he was awarded Open Society Foundation Fellowship and spent a year at Columbia University School of Law as Visiting Scholar. Meladze has received research grants and publishes and translates legal literature on issues of Freedom of Religion, Jury Reform and Constitutional Law.

Published September/October 2020

(Previously updated by Nana Patsia in December 2009; by Anna V. Dolidze in November/December 2010; and by Nini Gogiberidze in April/May 2015)

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1. Introduction

Georgia is located in the wrinkled Alpine zone, in subtropical zones of the northern periphery between 41° 07 and 43° 35 north and 40° 05 and 46° 44 west. The border is 1970 km long, 315 km of which (16%) is coastline. The country is bounded by the Russian Federation to the north, by Azerbaijan to the east, by Armenia and Turkey from the south, and by the Black Sea to the west.

Georgia mountains

The geological constitution is characterized by the formations from the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras. According to the wrinkles, it's divided by several geotectonic units: from north to south by Caucasian main ring's Antiklinorium, Georgian Belt, Achara-Trialeti system, Artvin-Bolnisi Belt and Loc-Karabag's wrinkled zone.

Georgia is rich in mineral resources such as oil, coal, peat, iron, magnum, copper, projectile-zinc, arsenic, mercury, andezit, barite, talc, serpentit, agate, quartz, basalt, granite, diorite, marble, etc.

Different areas of Georgia are characterized by the contrasting reliefs. The country is made up of high, middle and low mountain highlands. The Caucasus reflect sharply from the inter-mountain lowlands.

Georgia mountain highlands

mountain valley

The territory of Georgia features a highly contrasting topography.

Georgia is rich in underground waters, and there are mineral and thermal waters (Borjomi, Utsera, Dzau, Nabeglavi, Sairme, Zvare, Nunisi etc.).

Population and Area



Census results of 1989


Official data of 1997


Population Density (per sq.km)


2. The Regional Structure of Georgia

Apart from the two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia today is made up of the following geographical areas: Ajara, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Guria, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti, Kakheti, Kvemo Kartli, Shida Kartli, Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Imereti. This arrangement by-and-large coincides with the medieval traditional division of Georgia and the structure of public administration today. The overall regional arrangement of Georgia is not yet determined by the constitution.

Territorial units
Administrative Territorial Units

3. The Historical Experience

Georgia, known to Greeks and Romans as Kolkheti (the western part of the country) and Iberia (the eastern part), adopted Christianity in the 4th century under the influence of Byzantium. The country managed to unite during the 10th-13th centuries, despite numerous invasions by Arabians, Mongolians, Turks and Persians. This period in Georgian history is called the "Golden Era"; King David Agmashenebeli (1089-1125) and his granddaughter the Queen Tamar (1184-1213) made great contributions during this period. Recollections of this period helped preserve a national self-awareness in the following centuries, when Georgia was conquered by foreigners. Russia, which started the annexation of the region in 1801 and finished in 1917, was the last among such conquerors. Georgia became part of the Soviet Union in 1921 and became an independent Republic of the Soviet Union in 1936.

The well-known Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and the "Head" of his political police, Lavrenti Beria, both Georgians by origin, destroyed the hope of Georgians to win national independence. The repression went on after Stalin’s death; in 1956 his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, severely suppressed a revolutionary attempt by means of Soviet tanks, leading to the deaths of hundreds of people. During Brezhnev’s governance, Georgian authorities had a few successes – the Georgian language was declared the state language.

In modern Georgian history, the 1989 was a crucial year. On April 9, 1989, the Soviet Army broke up a peaceful demonstration, resulting in the murder of 21 people. Georgian society strongly supported the policy of complete independence and separation from the Soviet Union. On May 26, 1991, Georgia elected the Chairman of the Supreme Council Zviad Gamsakhurdia as President of the country.

Tension between the ruling and opposition parties gradually intensified, and in 1991-92 developed into an armed conflict. President Gamsakhurdia left the country, the Supreme Soviet ceased to function, and power was taken over by the Military Council, which was reconstituted itself into a State Council. The State Council restored Georgia’s Constitution of 1921. In 1992 Eduard Shevardnadze (ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union) returned to Georgia, assuming chairmanship of the Military Council; the news was announced on August 4, 1992, the day of Parliamentary elections. On July 31, 1992, Georgia became the 179th member of the UN. Presently Georgia is also a member of various other international and regional organizations.

In February and March of 1993, the Parliament of Georgia formed the State Constitutional Commission, presided over by Eduard Shevardnadze, and commissioned it with preparation of a new edition of the 1921 Constitution of Georgia. All the representatives of the Parliamentary factions (more than half of the entire composition), a large group of lawyers, policy experts and economists, and famous people of the Republic joined the Commission. On August 24, 1995, the newly elected Parliament of Georgia adopted a new Constitution. The majority expressed their wish and ability to solve the fundamental problems of government authority and individuals not by violence, but only on the basis of the Constitutional Justice.

4. Rose Revolution

On November 2, 2003, national parliamentary elections were held, which gave a boost to the processes leading eventually to the change of power. After serious allegations of election rigging in favor of the ruling Citizens’ Union, thousands of people stormed into the streets demanding change of government. After days of popular protest led by civic movement “Kmara,” President Shevardndze was ousted from power. The opposition protest reached its peak on November 22, when President Shevardnadze attempted to open the new session of parliament. This session was considered illegitimate by two of the four major opposition parties. Supporters of two of those parties, led by Saakashvili, burst into the session with roses in their hands (hence the name Rose Revolution). In the evening of November 23 (St. George's Day in Georgia), Shevardnadze met with the opposition leaders Saakashvili and Zurab Zhvania to discuss the situation. After the meeting, the president announced his resignation.

4.1. Lead-up to Elections

The lead-up to the pre-election period gave a good indication of the fierceness of the struggle for mandates. Though parliamentary elections officially involved 23 parties and party blocks, the essential fight for mandates was held only among several parties, among them President Shevardnadze’s party bloc “For New Georgia”, “Renaissance Union” “National Movement”, “Burdjanadze-Democrats Bloc”, “Labor party”, and the “New Rightists.” Some experts named the “Industry Will Save Georgia” Party as well on the list of favorites. However, many doubted its ability to pass the seven-percent barrier.

Given the style and characteristics of the President’s rule, all concerns appeared to be fairly well founded. Public administration was permeated with of corruption, whose bounds flourished beyond the limits of the imagination. As early as 1998, World Bank experts put out the catastrophic results of their survey: all branches of government, including parliament, appeared to be corruption-riddled.

This system put a drain on the state coffers, not to mention on the economic development of the country. The shadow economy reached an enormous scale, while a large majority of the population continued to live below the poverty line. In parallel, word was spreading widely in the press of millions of dollars missing and placing blame on public officials. However, none of them appealed in any sign of protest, instead just calling these charges a “dirty battle” against them.

4.2. Scandals

From autumn of that year on, the number of visits by representatives of international organizations increased considerably. The members of the OSCE Observers Mission held meetings with the leaders of Georgian political parties. “The country’s stay within the Council of Europe depends on the conduction of elections” – Western diplomats repeated often. What they required of the Georgian authorities was particular attention to elector lists, as well as the political independence of election commissions. In the same period, opposition parties began to speak out loudly on the clampdown measures employed by the government. “The executive authorities do not allow opposition parties to meet those employees of budgetary organizations, who declare their support for them,” party representatives were quoted as saying.

The Central Election Committee adopted a resolution to instruct the Ministers of Justice and Internal Affairs, as well as the local and self-governing bodies, to redress all errors before October 18. The basis for this resolution was provided by the New Right Party, who submitted evidence revealing the growth of the number of electors in one of the precincts by 650,000. Unofficial indications are that there are over 3 million electors in Georgia. The lists included deceased voters.

4.3. Elections (November 2, 2003)

On the day of the elections, there was complete chaos in the electors lists, incompetence and ignorance of election commission members, permanent breaches of provisions of the electoral code, unprecedented and unlawful decisions adopted by CEC, contradictory statements on previous polls by political parties and an absence of official information from the CEC.

4.4. Revolution of Roses

During the days leading up to November 23, the country was confronted squarely with the prospect of an armed conflict. In those decisive hours, the President’s entourage promoted the illusion of civil clash, bringing in scores of policemen in civilian clothes from Adjara.

On November 23, Deputies assembled in Parliament to inaugurate its first session and thus legitimize the election results. At first, there were not a sufficient number of deputies to reach the required quorum. In several minutes, the session was joined by the New Rights Party enabling the President to declare the sitting as open. However, within minutes opposition groups led by National Movement- Democratic Front alliance and opposition leaders Mikhail Saakashvili, Zurab Jhvania and Nino Burjanadze intruded into the sitting hall. President Shevardnadze was forced to flee. On the following day, he declared his resignation.

An interim government was formed, which held interim elections on January 4, 2004. The favorite of the presidential elections and the leader of the revolution, Mikheil Saakashvili, was swept into power with 96 percent of the votes cast.

4.5. Constitutional Changes

On February 6, 2004, the Georgian Parliament passed the first in the series of forthcoming Constitutional amendments significantly altering power arrangements within the Georgian system of government in favor of increased Presidential powers at the expense of weakened Parliament and judiciary. The adoption of these amendments caused a serious rift among political parties composing the National Movement – Democratic Front block resulting in eventual breakage of the Republican and Conservative Parties from the alliance.

The amendments were criticized by a number of international organizations, including by the European Commission on Democracy Through Law (better known as the Venice Commission), the Council of Europe’s authoritative advisory body on constitutional matters. The Commission criticized the amendments for the contradiction between their proclaimed aim of creating a better system of checks and balances and establishing a dual executive (as in the French constitutional model) and their actual impact of increasing the power of the President. Among others, the Commission underlined that certain provisions, such as a new provision aimed at stripping Parliament Deputies of their immunity, left members of parliament members defenseless against abusive proceedings brought by the Executive.

Despite of criticism from domestic and international actors, Parliament hastily passed said Constitutional amendments in violation of established timelines and legal safeguards for guaranteeing public discussion of Constitutional amendments. Series of implementing legislation followed.

A dozen of additional amendments have followed in ensuing years, each of them affecting branches of government and the relationship between them. For example, on February 26, 2008 the Parliament of Georgia passed Constitutional amendments introducing the institutional of Regional Governors, high-ranking public officials appointed by the President in administrative territorial units of the country. Similarly, on October 10, 2008 the Parliament passed Constitutional amendments authorizing unification of the previously independent Office of the Prosecutor with the Ministry of Justice and establishing the enlarged structure of the Ministry of Justice as a member of Government. The President would be entitled to dismiss the Minister of Justice.

In 2009 the President of Georgia set up a State Constitutional Commission with the task of preparing extensive amendments to the Constitution of Georgia. By 2010 state commission on constitutional reform tabled down a draft, which significantly increased the Prime Minister’s powers at the expense of the presidential authority. Authors of the draft described it as a "mixed governance" where the President acts as "an arbiter" between the legislative body and executive government, led by the Prime Minister elected from the ranks of the party garnering the most votes in the Parliamentary elections. The Venice Commission released final opinion on Georgia’s constitutional reform reiterating that it would be desirable to further strengthen the powers of parliament.

On October 15, 2010, Parliament passed amendments to the constitution. The new constitution entered into force upon the inauguration of the next president, who was elected in October 2013.

4.6. Leading up to 2012 Parliamentary Elections

Georgia went through its second transition process since its independence with the parliamentary elections held in October 2012. Georgia’s international partners strongly impressed upon the government that the conduct of 2012 legislative elections would affect future relations and the country’s hopes for eventually joining the European Union and NATO.

The National Movement-led Government, which was established after the Rose Revolution, aimed at radical reforms of Georgian society. It took steps to introduce a liberal market economy, to combat organized crime and stamp out corruption. To achieve so much in a short period of time, radical measures were needed, which to certain extent came at the cost of human rights. Critics of Saakashvili’s Government have often noted that, over time, separation between the State and the ruling party (United National Movement) tended to become blurred, the system of justice was flawed on key aspects relating to, for instance, the lack of balance of power between prosecution and defense undermining fairness and also resulting in very few acquittals, the misuse of the plea bargaining approach, as well as heavily reliance on extensive surveillance system, resulted in unfair options for those under investigation and beyond, as well as grim conditions, ill-treatment and even torture in the overcrowded prisons.

In October 2011, multi-billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili stirred up the political scene of Georgia by unleashing criticism of the Saakashvili’s government and announcing his intention to establish a political party to run in 2012 parliamentary elections. A few days after this announcement, President Saakashvili signed an order revoking Ivanishvili’s Georgian citizenship on the grounds that he also held Russian and French citizenship. Thus, Ivanishvili was barred from running for office. Following domestic and international criticism, several constitutional amendments were enacted by the United National Movement-led Parliament went into force in May 2012. One such change permitted a citizen of an EU country who has lived for five years in Georgia to be elected to a high political office. This provision was designed to permit Ivanishvili’s participation in the October 2012 legislative election.

In April 2012, Ivanishvili launched his new political party, the Georgia Dream-Democratic Georgia, and formed a coalition with several parties headed by individuals who once supported or were a part of the Saakashvili government, and other groups and individuals left behind by political developments in the country, namely the Republican Party of Georgia and the Conservative Party, the Free Democrats Party, the National Forum Party, and the Industry Will Save Georgia Party.

The Georgian Dream coalition represented a broad range of views. from xenophobic and socially conservative to pro-Western and reformist. However, while launching the coalition, Ivanishvili affirmed support for Georgia’s integration into NATO and the EU. His alliance also promised to “restore justice,” de-politicize the justice system, release those unfairly imprisoned, punish those responsible for abuse of power, encourage a genuine multi-party system, reduce poverty, unemployment, and emigration and to increase health, education and other social services, and generally pledged to bolster Georgia’s democratic and free market orientation.

4.7. 2012 Parliamentary Elections and Their Aftermath

The October 1, 2012, Parliamentary election was the first in country’s history resulting in a peaceful transfer of power. The OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission has noted that overall, the October parliamentary elections marked an important step in consolidating the conduct of democratic elections. The Central Election Commission (CEC) reported that almost 61.31% registered voters turned out for the election. Only United National Movement (UNM) and Georgian Dream (GD) won enough party list votes to pass the 5% hurdle and win seats in the legislature; GD won 54.97% of votes, and UNM 40.34%.

President Saakashvili conceded that his ruling party lost parliamentary election and pledged to contribute to a constitutional process of convening a new Parliament and forming a new government by the Georgian Dream coalition. Saakashvili was due to remain in office until the October 2013 Presidential elections and hand over the government to Ivanishvili-led coalition. In this process, President Saakashvili was expected to refrain from exercising the extensive powers still legally available to him under the old constitution, and he did so: he asked Georgian Dream to select a Prime Minister, and as a consequence he formally nominated his archrival Ivanishvili, who then chose his own cabinet. By the end of October 25, the newly elected parliament confirmed the new government and PM-nominee Bidzina Ivanishvili.

The political atmosphere after the 2012 Parliamentary elections was marked by a tense cohabitation between the governing Georgian Dream coalition and the President and his United National Movement. This was compounded by the arrests and pre-trial detentions of several UNM officials, including the party’s Secretary General. The atmosphere in the Parliament has been somewhat better, in fact, parliament managed to adopt number of important bills, some of them in unity between GD and UNM blocks. One example was a major amendment to the Constitution.

The amendment, confirmed on October 4, 2013 envisaged cutting some of PM’s powers vis-à-vis parliament when changing cabinet members in a new constitutional model, which would have entered into effect after 2013 presidential elections. The new constitutional amendment also removed from the new constitutional model a clause, which gave the PM the right to initiate non-confidence votes against the cabinet regarding any government-sponsored bill. The new amendment also saw the introduction of a clause in the new constitutional model according to which if the Parliament fails to confirm a state budget within the first two months of a new fiscal year, non-confidence vote procedures will be launched, but if the Parliament fails to confirm a new government, the President will have the right to dissolve Parliament and to call snap elections.

In general, the Georgian Dream-led government decided to improve the constitutional model of the country, and for these reasons parliament approved a 58-member State Constitution Reform Commission, chaired by parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili, tasked to propose amendments to the constitution before September 1, 2014. Five issue-based working groups have been set up within the commission with each of them focusing on its specific area of expertise: checks and balances between branches of government; human rights, courts, and the prosecutor’s office; other state institutions (National Security Council, National Bank, Public Defender’s Office, the State Audit Service); territorial-administrative arrangement and local self-governance; general constitutional provisions and rules of making amendments to the constitution.

Since then, Parliament has extended the mandate of the state commission with the latest deadline extended to March 1, 2015. The commission did not produce any document. New commission was created on December 15, 2016 which produced new draft of the Constitution adopted by Parliament on September 26, 2017. President vetoed certain regulations in Constitution but veto was disregarded and later Georgian dream party initiated amendments on November 2d, 2017 which were introduced to the constitution on March 23 2018. Final amendments were introduced on 29 July 2020 reflecting new political consensus on electoral system.

4.8. 2013 Presidential Elections

On October 27, 2013, Georgian voters elected the fourth president of a country for a five-year term. It was the first time in Georgia when incumbent president was replaced through elections after serving a second term in full. Georgian Dream’s candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili won outright victory with 62.12% of the votes. Observation missions confirmed that presidential election was efficiently administered and transparent, and took place in an amicable and constructive environment.

With the election of the new president, a new constitutional model entered into force, which stipulated that the sitting government step down after the inauguration of the new president. In fact, after the presidential vote, Prime Minister Ivanishvili stepped down, announcing that he is quitting politics and did not to seek re-election as PM. He nominated 31-year-old Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili to be next Prime Minister of Georgia. Shortly after nomination, Parliament approved Mr. Garibashvili’s cabinet.

4.9. 2016 Parliamentary Elections

On 8 October 2016, the Georgian people voted to elect a new parliament and government in an election. It was the first time since the Rose Revolution that openly pro-Russian parties and MPs gained seats in Parliament. According to the preliminary results, three parties passed the 5% threshold and have gained seats in Parliament: The Georgian Dream (48.67%), the United National Movement (27.11%), and the Alliance of Patriots (5.006%). GD won 115 seats, an increase of 67 seats, while the United National Movement was reduced to 27 seats.

The 150 members of the unicameral Parliament are elected through a mixed system: 77 seats proportional and 73 are majoritarian. The Constitutional Court of Georgia issued decision to equalize majoritarian districts which led to the reform of district borders and a rearranged electoral map. The election was monitored by 30 000 observers from 55 international delegations and over 100 organizations. The election was widely confirmed as observing democratic standards and fundamental rights.

With the election of Parliament, a new government was led by the 12th Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who was selected by the Georgian Dream coalition as new Prime Minister after Irakli Garibashvili announced his resignation. On 20 June 2018, Mamuka Bakhtadze, who previously served as Kvirikashvili's Minister of Finance, replaced him and got appointed as the new Prime Minister of Georgia, followed by Giorgi Gakharia who currently occupies this position.

4.10. 2016 Parliamentary Elections Aftermath (The Launch of 2017 Constitutional Reform)

The Parliament of Georgia established the State Constitutional Commission by the resolution of December 15, 2016. The new Constitution was meant to enter into force after the 2018 Presidential Elections.

According to the initiative of the ruling Georgian Dream party, the President will no longer be directly elected in a vote. The president instead will be elected by an electoral college of 300 members. 150 members will be MPs from Parliament and the other 150 members will be representatives from local municipalities. However, the President retains constitutional power to veto amendments passed by Parliament. The Parliamentary will be elected through a mixed electoral system in 2020. The Georgian Dream party declared that the electoral system will change in 2024 to be fully proportional.

In conclusion these are some of the key changes into the constitution:

4.11. Leading up to the 2018 Presidential Elections

Presidential elections were held in Georgia on 28 October 2018. This is the seventh presidential election since the country's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The last elections resulted in victory for Giorgi Margvelashvili, who was the GD candidate. 46 people applied to participate in the elections, 21 of which were rejected by the Election Administration of Georgia. 25 presidential candidates were registered by the Election Administration of Georgia This is the largest number since Georgia's first presidential election in 1991.

The election of 2018 was the first Presidential election following key changes of the Georgian constitution in 2017. The presidential election was important for opposition political parties as well. The opposition, which has lost several elections since the change of government in 2012, tried to win the presidential election in 2018. The elections were very tense, and the Government’s candidate won but there was serious criticism from international community, and legitimacy of the last President remains questionable. Although the power of the president is significantly weakened as a result of constitutional reform, the president still has presence in international affairs, but is very symbolic and largely remains in shadows. The enthusiasm of electing the first woman president was soon altered after rigging elections by government and after her inability to work closely with civic and political actors.

5. The President of Georgia

According to the new constitutional model, the President of Georgia is the head of state, a commander-in-chief and represents the country (not as supreme representative as it was under the old constitution) in foreign relations. The President no longer directs and exercises domestic and foreign policy of the state. This authority is delegated to the Prime Minister and the government.

The President must be a citizen of Georgia (and non-natural born citizen) who is at least 40 years old and has lived in Georgia for at least 15 years. The President has no right to hold a decision-making post in a political party, although they have the right to be a member of a party. The President has the right to appoint or dismiss chief of staff of the armed forces and other top military commanders only with the agreement of the government. The President does not have the right to initiate draft laws, nor does he have the right to convene an emergency session of Parliament. The President will not have the right to appoint or dismiss ambassadors without government's approval.

The President has no right to call for a referendum independently, only upon request of the government. The President can still nominate members of telecommunications and energy regulatory commissions, but only with an agreement of the government. The President has the right to nominate head of government of the Adjara Autonomous Republic, but only after consultations with political parties and with an agreement of government. The President requires the Government's consent for holding international talks or signing international treaties.

According to the new constitutional model, the President's impeachment can be initiated by 1/3 of lawmakers. The issue is then being passed to the Constitutional Court. If the latter concludes that President's action contained signs of crime or violation of constitution, Parliament has to vote whether to impeach or not President within 15 days. A vote of at least 2/3 of lawmakers is required to impeach President.

The Presidential election of 2018 was last election where Georgian citizens elected president directly. According to the constitutional amendments next president will be elected by commission of 300 voters, Among them 150 will be MPs, members of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic, Voters nominated by the parties in accordance with recent elections of local self-governments. The President is elected by majority vote.

According to the new Constitution, the status of the President remains unchanged; the President is the head of state, guarantor of national unity and national independence, the highest commander in the country and representative of Georgia to foreign powers. The President of Georgia is prohibited from joining any political party and holding a position in any political party.

The President will not be able to present candidates for the judges of the Supreme Court. The President cannot take part in Government meetings and cannot commence Government sessions.

6. The Prime Minister and the Government of Georgia

Georgia’s new constitutional model outlines that the Government is the supreme body of the executive branch, which directs and executes the country’s foreign and domestic policy and is accountable before Parliament. The Government is led by the Prime Minster. The Prime Minister has the right to appoint and dismisses other members of the government, including defense and interior ministers (under the previous constitution dismissal of these two ministers was an exclusive right of the President). The resignation of the Prime Minister leaves the existing government in position until the new Prime Minister is appointed. Government’s powers are suspended as soon as the mandate of the newly elected Parliament is approved. A Prime Minister’s candidacy is proposed by a political party which wins parliamentary elections. Government members are appointed by the Prime Minister. The Government needs the support of a majority of MPs to win confidence votes.

If government's powers are suspended for reasons other than parliamentary elections, The President appoints to Prime Minister the candidate proposed by a parliamentary majority. In the case of an absence of parliamentary majority, a candidate should be proposed by the largest parliamentary faction.

If Parliament fails to give a confidence vote to Government twice, the President nominates a Prime Minister named by two-fifth of lawmakers, but if even in that case Parliament fails to give a confidence vote, the President will have the right to dissolve Parliament and call early elections.

It is only up to Government to submit state budgets to Parliament for consideration, making these two responsible for budgetary matters, leaving out the President. Government has the right to request Parliament’s ratification or denunciation of international treaties; President also enjoys this right in some cases, but with the Government's consent. The Government (and not PM unilaterally) appoints and dismisses provincial governors, instead of the President as it was under the previous constitution.

The PM has the right of “counterassignation” of presidential decrees, which means that most of presidential decrees require confirmation by PM's signature. However, this right of PM does not apply to presidential acts issued during war, as well as acts concerning a decision to dissolve the Parliament, calling elections, signing drafts into law, and appointing judges.

7. The Parliament of Georgia

The Parliament of Georgia is the supreme representative body of the country. It exercises legislative power, determines the main directions of domestic and foreign policy and exercises control over Government. The Parliament resides in Tbilisi. It is unicameral and members of Parliament are elected for four-year terms. Any citizen of Georgia age 25 and older who has lived in Georgia for at least 10 years can be elected as a member of the Parliament.

Legislative activity (i.e. lawmaking) is the exclusive right of Parliament. Although the President has the right not to sign a law and to veto it, he/she does not have an absolute right to stop a law, as Parliament may override the veto. The law adopted by the Parliament is sent to president within ten days and President has two weeks to sign and publish the law. The President may refuse to sign and return a law to Parliament with specific remarks. If comments are acceptable and voted on, the President has five days to sign and publish the law. If comments are not acceptable then first draft of the law is voted again by increased majority. The Parliament can suspend membership of MPs; elect the Speaker and Vice-Speakers of Parliament; establish independent commissions; ratify, denounce and cancel international agreements and treaties; and adopt decisions.

The Parliament elects three members of the Constitutional Court, four members of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Chairman of the Chamber of Control. The Parliament determines the type and composition of the armed forces and approves the number of the armed forces upon a submission from the National Security Council. The detention, imprisonment, search of apartment, car, workplace or person, and criminal proceedings of a delegate or member of the Supreme Court are inadmissible without the consent of Parliament.

7.1. Non-Confidence Vote

Although the Parliament has the right to raise criticism of an individual cabinet member, the constitution does not specify what follows next and what might be the result of such demand by the Parliament. However, 1/3 of the Members of Parliament can initiate a non-confidence vote and nominate a new Prime Minister. Parliament has 7 to 14 days to vote in a new Prime Minister and, if an absolute majority supports a proposed candidate, a vote of non-confidence will take place automatically. The President has influence over the process. If a vote of non-confidence is not supported by Parliament, the President will dismiss the Parliament and declare new elections.

8. Distribution of Powers between President and Prime Minister/Government

The table below shows distribution of powers between the president and Government/PM according to old and new constitutions of the country.

Distribution of Powers



Cabinet / Prime Minister:

Cabinet / Prime Minister:


  • Head of State
  • Leads and implements the domestic and foreign policy of the state. Guarantees the unity and sovereignty of the country. Ensures the performance by state organs of their constitutional functions.
  • Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces
  • Head of State
  • Guarantees the unity and sovereignty of the country. Ensures the performance by state organs of their constitutional functions, within the limits given to him under the constitution.
  • Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces
  • Highest executive organ
  • Ensures the execution of the country's domestic and foreign policy.
  • Accountable to Parliament
  • Ensures the execution of executive power, including domestic and foreign policy.
  • Accountable to the President and Parliament
  • Can hold office within a political party
  • Cannot hold office within a political party

  • Upon Parliament's assumption of duties, the cabinet resigns.
  • Upon the President's inauguration, the cabinet resigns.


  • Highest representative in foreign relations
  • Representative in foreign relations
  • The Prime Minister and other ministers represent Georgia in foreign relations within their respective areas of responsibility
  • Leads negotiations and concludes international agreements.
  • Leads negotiations and concludes international agreements in agreement with the cabinet. (In case there is no agreement with government, the Prime Minister's countersignature is required for agreements to be valid.)
  • International agreements concluded by the President without previous agreement of the cabinet must be counter-signed by the Prime Minister.
  • Acceptance of foreign ambassadors' letters of accreditation
  • Acceptance of foreign ambassadors' letters of accreditation in agreement with the cabinet.


  • Concludes concordat with the Georgian Orthodox Church
  • Unchanged
  • [Prime Minister] Countersigns
  • Right to initiate constitutional changes
  • Removed
  • Right to initiate legislation
  • Removed
  • [Cabinet] Right to initiate legislation. Upon Cabinet request, Parliament conducts extraordinary hearings on legislative initiatives submitted by the Cabinet.
  • [Cabinet] Right to initiate legislation.
  • Agrees to the Cabinet's submission to Parliament of the draft budget.
  • Removed
  • Independent submission to Parliament of the draft budget.
  • Submission to Parliament of the draft budget, upon the President's agreement
  • Unchanged
  • Cabinet's agreement required in order for Parliament to amend the draft budget
  • Unchanged
  • Cabinet's agreement required in order to pass a law that foresees increased government spending, reduced government income, or government acceptance of new financial obligations
  • Right to waive legal acts issued by agencies accountable to him
  • Removed
  • Signs laws.
  • Unchanged
  • Issues decrees, edicts and orders within his areas of competence. As Commander-in-Chief, he also issues commands.
  • Unchanged
  • [Prime Minister] Countersigns, except in the case of commands.
  • Authorized in exceptional cases, from the dissolution of Parliament to its reinstatement, to adopt legally binding decrees and acts on tax and budget issues. The validity of these acts will automatically expire, unless Parliament confirms them within a month of its convocation.
  • Removed
  • Authorized to lock budget spending on Parliament's request in cases when such spending is unlawful.
  • Removed
  • Convocation and management of cabinet meetings concerning specially weighty state matters. Decisions reached at such meetings count as a Presidential Act.
  • Right to demand that the Cabinet discuss specific topics at a cabinet meeting, and to take part in this meeting.


  • Presents Parliament with a candidate for Prime Minister and appoints the Prime Minister. The President has full autonomy to determine who the candidate for Prime Minister will be, both after a Parliamentary Election, and after the resignation of the Cabinet.
  • Presents Parliament with a candidate for Prime Minister and appoints the Prime Minister:
    --after parliamentary elections, the candidate must come from the election subject with the best results.
    --after resignation of the Cabinet, the candidate must come from the parliamentary majority.
  • Approves the Prime Minister's appointments of cabinet members.
  • Removed
  • Appoints and discharges cabinet members.
  • The Prime Minister appoints cabinet members with the President's approval, and is authorized to dismiss cabinet members.
  • Authority to dismiss the cabinet as well as the ministers of justice and, interior and defence.
  • Removed
  • Unchanged
  • The resignation of the Prime Minister means that the entire cabinet resigns.
  • Submits the Cabinet to Parliament for a renewed vote of confidence, once one third of the cabinet or at least five of its members have been replaced.
  • Unchanged
  • Unchanged
  • Upon the replacement of one third of the cabinet or at least five of its members, Parliament takes a vote of confidence upon the President's proposal.
  • Cabinet can be dismissed by means of:
    I) A constructive vote of no-confidence:
    --If the candidate receives a simple majority from Parliament, the President can appoint or refuse to appointment him.
    --If the candidate receives more than a three-fifth majority from Parliament, the President must appoint him.
  • Cabinet can be dismissed by means of:
    I) A vote of no-confidence with a simple parliamentary majority. The President can choose between dismissing the Cabinet, or dissolving Parliament.
    II) An unconditional vote of no-confidence, requiring a three-fifth parliamentary majority, upon which the President must dismiss the Cabinet.
    III) A vote of confidence: if it receives less than a simple majority in Parliament, the President can either dismiss the Cabinet or dissolve Parliament.
  • Accepts the resignation of the Cabinet and its ministers, commits them to continue to fulfil their functions until a new Cabinet has been formed, or a new Prime Minister has been appointed.
  • Commits the Cabinet to fulfil its function until a new Cabinet has been formed.
  • Appoints ambassadors with Parliament's approval.
  • Appoints ambassadors upon the proposal of the Cabinet.
  • Cabinet: Right to propose ambassadorial candidates
  • Suggests to Parliament candidates for senior officials, the appointment of which requires Parliamentary confirmation.
  • Unchanged
  • Appoints and dismisses the members, the secretary, and the staff of the National Security Council
  • Unchanged
  • Appoints and dismisses the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other commanders
  • Appoints and dismisses the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other commanders, in agreement with the Cabinet
  • Cabinet: Proposes appointment and dismissal of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other commanders
  • Appoints and dismisses governors
  • Removed
  • Cabinet: Appoints and dismisses governors
  • Appoints one member of the High Council of Justice.
  • Participates in the appointment of chairman and members of the Central Election Commission
  • Unchanged
  • Proposes candidates for positions in regulatory authorities to Parliament.
  • Proposes candidates for positions in regulatory authorities to Parliament, in agreement with the Cabinet.
  • Proposes candidates for Ajara Government Chairman to the High Council of Ajara, after consulting the political subjects represented in the High Council of Ajara.
  • In agreement with the Cabinet, proposes candidates for Ajara Government Chairman to the High Council of Ajara, after consulting the political subjects represented in the High Council of Ajara.
  • Appoints three judges of the Constitutional Court
  • Unchanged
  • Right to propose candidates for President and Judges of the Supreme Court to Parliament
  • Unchanged
  • Proposes members of the council of the National Bank to Parliament, and appoints/dismisses the president of the National Bank
  • Unchanged


  • Dissolution of Parliament in cases foreseen by the Constitution:

1) Inability of the newly elected Parliament to form a cabinet: the President must dissolve Parliament.

2) Passing of a vote-of-no-confidence against the Cabinet: the President either dissolves Parliament, or dismisses the Cabinet.

3) Failure of a vote-of-confidence to pass when such a vote has been attached to a draft bill: the President dismisses the Cabinet or dissolves Parliament.

4) If within three months of its submission Parliament does not approve the draft budget, the President is authorized to dismiss the Cabinet or dissolve Parliament and call early elections.

  • Dissolution of Parliament in cases foreseen by the Constitution:

1) Inability of the newly elected Parliament to form a cabinet: the President must dissolve Parliament.

2) Failure of a constructive vote-of-no-confidence to pass once it has been initiated: the President can dissolve Parliament.

3) If within two months of the start of the new budget year Parliament does not confirm the budget, this counts as the initiation of a vote-of-no-confidence procedure. If finally Parliament fails to pass a constructive vote-of-no-confidence, then the President must dissolve Parliament and call new elections.

  • Right to suspend or repeal self-governing bodies with Parliament's approval
  • Right to suspend or repeal self-governing bodies upon proposal from the cabinet and with Parliament's approval
  • Proclaims state of emergency and state of war. Parliament must approve the decision within 48 hours.
  • Unchanged
  • Decides on the deployment of the armed forces with Parliament's approval. In a state of emergency, or in order to fulfil international obligations, the President can decide without Parliament's approval, in which case Parliament must approve the decision within 48 hours.
  • Unchanged
  • Right to limit certain rights and freedoms in state of emergency of war. Parliament must approve such decisions within 48 hours.
  • Unchanged
  • Prime Minister: countersigns


  • Calls elections
  • Unchanged
  • Prime Minister: Countersigns, except in the case of parliamentary elections
  • Convenes referendums, including upon his own initiative
  • Convenes referendums, but not upon his own initiative
  • Cabinet: Requests the president to call a referendum
  • Cabinet: can only introduce new kinds of tax by way of a referendum, except in cases foreseen through the applicable organic law. Only Cabinet can call a referendum.


  • Summons extraordinary parliamentary sessions upon the request of Parliament or on his own initiative
  • Summons extraordinary parliamentary sessions upon the request of Parliament or on the initiative of the Cabinet.
  • Cabinet: Right to propose calls for extraordinary parliamentary sessions
  • Right to pardon
  • Unchanged
  • Grants citizenship and asylum
  • Unchanged
  • Prime minister: countersigns grants of asylum
  • Bestowal of state prizes, the highest military ranks, honorary titles, the highest diplomatic honours
  • Unchanged
  • Prime Minister: countersigns the highest military ranks, honorary titles, the highest diplomatic honours

9. New Challenges of the Georgian Judiciary

Over the last decade, a new legal system has been created in Georgia. Soviet-era laws were replaced with new laws, drafted with the help of ongoing consultations with the active cooperation of American and European experts. As a result of this collaboration, Georgia adopted new civil, administrative, corporate, and criminal laws. In 1999, the new legislation governing the judiciary came into force. The implementation of these new laws raised the question of the need for institutional reform, an integral part of which was considered to be judicial reform. Although the judiciary had legal guarantees of independence, dependence and subordination to the executive branch of government and law enforcement institutions was causing significant problems, leading to corruption and the degradation of the system of justice. To tackle these problems the Council of Justice and the High School of Justice have been established. The Council of Justice was established as a self-governing agency for judges. However, with active participation of political forces (in the past, the President has served as the Chair of the Council and the Parliament had the right to appoint its representatives as members) sheds an unfavorable light on its independence. Similarly, lack of transparency and objective procedures in selection, training and appointment of judges by the High School of Justice, has been and remains subject of criticism about political bias.

A new court instance – appellate courts – was created. The competences between courts of different instances were clearly defined and separated. The rules for the competences and jurisdiction of the courts are now prescribed by law and are no longer dependent on the will and decisions of the chairmen of the courts.

The Supreme Court was transformed into the court of cassation, which reviews only the legal aspects of appeal decisions and does not discuss the cases on merit.

As a result of the reform, the peculiarities of the Soviet court system that still exist in most post-Soviet countries and challenge the independence of their judicial system were abolished. For example:

10. The Judiciary

The structure of judicial power in Georgia is defined and outlined in the Constitution. Chapter Six of the Georgian Constitution deals specifically and solely with judicial power. It identifies all the judicial bodies that implement justice in the country (Constitutional Court, courts of general jurisdiction and military courts, within the framework of the courts of general jurisdiction) and institutionalizes trials by jury. The same chapter regulates prosecution and stipulates independent prosecutorial body that is only accountable to the Parliament of Georgia.

The Georgian Constitution is clear about the fact the judiciary must be independent and free from any political or other undue influence. However, in practice, this crucial principle has not been fully respected. Courts have been subject to direct or indirect political pressure and have not always been able to protect their integrity.

The UNM-led government took steps to address some problems in the justice system. The structure of the justice system was overhauled: the High Council of Justice (HCJ) moved from presidential subordination to a formally independent institution, and new criminal procedure law was adopted. Corruption within the judiciary was successfully tackled and equipment and administration of the courts considerably improved. However, several other challenges remained.

After Parliamentary elections in October 2012 an important further phase of judicial reform was initiated by the Georgian Dream-led Government. In April 2013, Parliament passed amendments to the Law on Common Courts, in which the reforming of the High Council of Justice (HCoJ) was the central issue. The High Council of Justice is in charge of overseeing the judicial system with the authority to appoint or dismiss judges, as well as to initiate disciplinary proceedings against judges. There are 15 members in HCoJ, which is chaired by the Supreme Court Chairman. Six members of the HCoJ are elected by the Parliament with secret ballot from candidates nominated by legal advocacy non-governmental organizations, law schools and law departments of various universities and the Georgian Bar Association. These six members are confirmed by the Parliament with two-thirds majority. The remaining eight seats in HCoJ are filled by judges, elected by judiciary’s self-governing body, Conference of Judges. The new system also introduces number of other significant changes in this judicial component of HCoJ’s composition; it strips the Supreme Court Chairman of his current exclusive right to nominate candidates for HCoJ membership; every judge will have the right to nominate a candidate. It also envisages making ballot at the Conference of Judges secret.

In October 2013, Parliament passed another set of amendments to the law on common courts envisaging setting three-year probationary period for newly recruited judges before their appointment for life. Appointment of judges before retirement is guaranteed by new constitutional model, which entered into force after presidential elections of 2013. Beforehand, sitting judges had the right to hold offices for a ten-year term. The constitutional provision also provides for possibility of setting a trial period for judges of “not more than three years” before they take office for life. This new provision also gave flexibility to lawmakers by saying that such a probationary period “may” be set. Many non-governmental actors spoke out against the setting of a three-year probationary period and offered the Parliament to postpone enforcement of the constitutional provision, which envisages appointment of judges for life. The Venice Commission, Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal affairs, recommended in respect of this probationary period provision that it was “problematic”, citing that it may undermine independence of judges as they may feel under pressure to decide cases in a particular way during the trial period. Despite criticism, the bill was passed by the parliament, setting out 2 evaluation criteria - good faith and competence, before appointment for judges for life. Each criterion has certain characteristics, based on which the examiner has the right to evaluate judge’s performance during the probation period. One judge and one non-judge member of High Council of Justice jointly carry out evaluation process.

According to the new Constitution, the High Council of Justice is composed of 14 members appointed for 4-year terms and chair of the Supreme Court. More than half of the members should be appointed by judges from the common courts and remaining members are one appointed by President and five members elected by parliament.

Appointment of Supreme Court Justices was a very hot topic. Members of the civil society actively campaigned against candidacies who had poor reputation and record of cooperation with government. As a result, several candidacies have been removed and process is still ongoing. Still significant number of judges are not appointed on permanent position.

10.1. The Constitutional Court

The legal body for Constitutional supervision is the Constitutional Court of Georgia. The Constitutional Court protects the constitutional rights of individuals (by revoking normative bills that conflict with the provisions of the constitution) and considers or settles constitutional disputes between public institutions. In specific cases, the Constitutional Court may arbitrate on election issues. The court also participates in the procedure for the impeachment of high-ranking government officials in cases stipulated by the constitution.

The Constitutional Court of Georgia decided complaints or submissions made by the President, at least one fifth of the Members of Parliament, of the courts, of supreme representative bodies of Abkhazia and Adjara, of the public defender, local government or of a citizen and under the rules established by organic law. The matters decided by the Constitutional Court include:

The decision of the Constitutional Court is final. Normative acts or their parts recognized as unconstitutional have no legal power from the moment the appropriate decision of the Constitutional Court is published.

The law also stipulates the right to revoke electoral law if the law is enacted for more than 15 months before the next election takes place.

The Constitution determines the composition of the Constitutional Court, which is nine judges, each with a 10-year term of office. Three are appointed by the President of Georgia, three are elected by Parliament and three are appointed by the Supreme Court of Georgia.

The Constitutional Court considers a case if an application has been filed by any citizen, legal entities of Georgia, the President, at least one fifth of MPs, any court, representative bodies of Abkhazia or Adjara, or the Public Defender. A decision by the Constitutional Court is final, and the normative act or a part of it, which is considered unconstitutional, loses its legal force once the decision has been made public.

The Organic Law on the Constitutional Court provides for its authority, the rules of its creation and activities.

10.2. The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Georgia is the highest judicial body in Georgia. The Supreme Court is composed of at least 28 judges. Judges are appointed for indefinite terms but must retire at the age stipulated by law. The Chair of the Supreme Court is elected by the Parliament by absolute majority for a ten-year term and any person can serve as chair of the court only once.

There are three Chambers of Cassation and Collegium of Criminal Law in the Supreme Court. The Chambers are:

The chairmen of the Chambers and the Collegium are also deputies of the Chairman of the Supreme Court. The Chambers of the Supreme Court, composed of three members, consider complaints relating to decisions of the Courts of Appeal and those of the High Courts of the Autonomous Republics. The Collegium of Criminal Cases, within the Supreme Court, considers in the first instance only grave criminal cases such as terrorism, assassination of a senior official, etc.

Since 2001, a Grand Chamber has been operating within the Supreme Court. It consists of the Chairman of the Supreme Court, the Chairman of the Collegium and at least 12 other judges from the chambers elected by the Plenum. Cases are heard by nine judges and include those who sat on the original decision.

The Plenum works within the Supreme Court. It consists of the Chairman of the Supreme Court, his/her deputies, the chairman of the high Courts of Abkhazia and Adjara, all the judges of the Supreme Court and Chairman of Tbilisi and Kutaisi District Courts. Similar to the Constitutional Court, there is a separate Organic Law “On the Supreme Court of Georgia”, which provides for its authority, rules of creation and activities. The Supreme Court has selected decisions in English.

10.3. Common Courts

Regional (City) Courts are the lowest level of general courts. Cases are considered by one judge. The District Court, like the Regional ones, is a court of first instance, where cases are considered by three judges. Within the District Courts there are:

Special Chambers of Appeal have been created within the District Courts. These chambers are Second Instance Courts. They consider appeals from the Regional (City) Courts. There are three chambers for criminal cases, civil and bankruptcy cases, and administrative law and taxation cases.

Any person thirty years of age that possesses a law degree and five years of professional experience is qualified to serve as a judge. Judges are appointed, but before their lifetime appointment, it is possible to appoint the judges for the initial trial period of three years.

11. Regionalism and Local Self-Government in Georgia

The functions and responsibilities of the local government are separate from those of the central government. Local governments possess their own finances and property. Yet central authorities do exercise certain supervisory functions. Moreover, as the most important source of revenues are allocated to the central government, e.g. profit tax, local governments are largely devoid of independent sources of income and are dependent on financial transfers from the central government. It has been subject of criticism that local government are not given sufficient resources to exercise their functions.

Following the 2012 Parliamentary elections, power in most municipal assemblies and executives has shifted to members of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition by non-electoral means. There are widespread reports of pressure on members of municipal assemblies and executives to resign or switch loyalties to the ruling coalition. Watch-dog organizations reported that thousands of employees in ministries, government agencies and municipal administrations have been fired since the latest parliamentary elections. The ambitious plan to reform local governance announced in late 2013 started its passage through parliament at the end of the year.

In 2014, the Parliament of Georgia passed a new bill on local self-governance reform. With the passage of the bill new system of local governance was introduced. The bill envisaged direct election of mayors in twelve towns, as well as direct election of heads of all the municipalities starting from local elections 2014. In 2017 local government elections were held where citizens directly elected mayors in five self-governing cities, 59 mayors in municipalities and other representatives in 63 municipalities totaling 2000 representatives.

The Council (or Assembly), known in Georgian as Sakrebulo, remains a representative body of local self-governance on the municipality level. A Sakrebulo is elected for a four-year term and varies in term of the seats depending on the size of municipality. The executive body is led by Mayor. A Sakrebulo is able to launch procedures for sacking directly elected mayors upon the initiative of at least half of its members or upon a written request of at least 20% of voters registered in a respective municipality or town. Two-thirds majority of Sakrebulo members will be required to vote out a mayor. Critics have suggested that these provisions might weaken the importance of institution of directly elected mayors.

The new Constitution has a special chapter on local government, which sets main principles on exercising local authority. The chapter was largely drafted in accordance to the principles set out by the European Charter on Local Governance which is ratified by Georgia. However, real decentralization has not yet taken place as local governments have very weak power to collect local taxes, administer local properties, etc. A special commission has been set up to research the property issue and the final decision was to transfer not even 1% of state property to local municipalities.

12. The Electoral Process in Georgia

Since 1990, Georgia has held 8 parliamentary elections (in 1990, 1992, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2012), 7 Presidential elections (in 1991, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2013), and 5 local elections (in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 ). In August 2001, Parliament enacted a new, comprehensive Electoral Code. The code has been changes numerous times and currently does not follow any specific pattern.

Local and international election observation groups have called on to the authorities that it is essential to reform the electoral system in order to introduce such system, which will ensure that elections are conducted fairly, seats are allocated in proportion to votes, the risk of losing votes is decreased to minimum and the principle of equality of votes is observed.

In response to the criticism, the electoral lists have been updated and the pilot program is launched to test electronic voting. However, the 2018 elections were severely criticized and high-ranking officials from partner countries did not attend the inauguration ceremony. Violence, misappropriation of state resources and illegal influence on state employees remain significant problems according to local and international observers.

After the 2018 elections, skepticism towards the government and electoral system grew significantly leading to the civic protests of June of 2019. On June 20, riot police dispersed the rally using tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons as protestors gathered in front of parliament building to protest against state organized conference where Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov took the seat of the parliamentary speaker. 240 were injured, with several people losing eyesight after the violent crackdown. The protest lasted for nearly 100 days and the Government made promises to change the electoral system and implement fully proportional elections by 2020 instead of 2024. Final steps are still needed to make appropriate legal changes and the process is closely monitored by partner states to make sure that promises are kept and necessary reforms are implemented.

13. Hierarchy of Legal Norms in Georgia

Article 21 of the Civil Code of Georgia states that “the Civil Code, other acts of private law and their interpretation, shall conform to the Constitution of Georgia.” This provision underlines the circumstance that the Constitution as the state’s basic law is at the top in the hierarchy of legal documents and legal rules. According to Article 6 I, “the Constitution is the supreme law of the state” and “all other legal acts shall comply with the Constitution.

In Georgia, in the hierarchy of norms, an international treaty takes the next highest rank after the Constitution, as per Article 6 II. It enters into force in compliance with Article 65 of the Constitution (in some cases after being ratified by Parliament). Thus, it is not necessary to adopt a special normative act on the enactment of its provisions.

After the Constitution and international treaties come laws. There is a difference between “ordinary” and organic laws. Article 66 of the Constitution states that the consent of the majority of Members of Parliament is needed for the adoption of an organic law. Organic laws are on a higher rank than ordinary laws and are adopted for the implementation of a particular requirement of the Constitution.

Sub-legislative normative acts are of a general character and thus tend to be applicable to an indefinite amount of social relations and indefinite group of persons. Consequently, pursuant to Article 2 III of the Civil Code of Georgia, sub-legislative normative acts adopted for the regulation of private law relations is admissible only if they complement the norms of law. If it contravenes the law, the sub-legislative normative act shall not be applied.

Georgian law, like Romano-Germanic law, is divided into public (jus publicum) and private (jus privatum or jus civile) law-order. Public law comprises constitutional, administrative and criminal laws as well as customs, taxation and procedure legislation. Traditionally civil and company law fell within the scope of private law. Today such a division has retained its practical importance for the classification of legal acts and the identification of the course of justice.

Private law disputes are adjudicated under civil proceedings on an adversarial basis. Public law disputes are adjudicated under administrative proceedings, and with inquisitional elements.

An administrative body has a special authority precisely prescribed by the law, whereas natural persons and legal persons of private law are entitled to carry out any action not forbidden by the law. An administrative body is bounded by the principle of observing legitimacy and state interests; the principle of autonomy of will provided for by private law does not apply to it. Due to this fundamental distinction, legal persons of public law cannot be treated like private persons under a common civil law regime. Thus, it becomes necessary to introduce a special regime for the activity of legal persons of public law. Administrative law is the common law of public governance.

Article 1 of the Civil Code of Georgia defines the scope of application of civil law – it “regulates property, family and personal relations of a private nature, based on the equality of persons”. Pursuant to Article 8 I of the Civil Code, “any natural or legal person may be a subject of private law relations. This rule applies to both entrepreneurial and non-entrepreneurial persons of Georgia or of other countries.”

“Private law relations between state bodies and legal persons of public law, on the one hand, and other persons on the other hand, shall likewise be regulated by civil laws unless these relations, in the interests of the state or the public, are to be regulated by public law” (Article 8 II of the Civil Code). Pursuant to Article 7 of the Civil Code, “an object of private legal relations may be a material or non-material good, of property or non-property value, which has not been excluded from (commercial) circulation by law”. According to Article 10I, “the exercise of civil rights shall not depend upon political rights regulated by the Constitution or by other laws of public law”.

“Participants in a civil relation may exercise any action not prohibited by law, including any action not directly foreseen by law” (Article 10 II of the Civil Code). As for the scope of application of the administrative law, pursuant to Article 2 I of the Administrative Procedures Code, a common court shall hear disputes arising from legal relations that are regulated by administrative legislation.

Pursuant to Article 2 II of the Administrative Procedure Code of Georgia, the subject of an administrative dispute may be in conformity of an administrative act with Georgian legislation; conclusion or performance of an administrative transaction; and the obligation of administrative body relating to compensation of damage, issuance of administrative act, or taking any other action.

14. The Official Gazette, Legal Journals and Main Newspapers

The Official Gazette, where all laws are published, is called Sakanonmdeblo matsne. The main law journals of Georgia are: Samartali (Law), Adamiani da Konstitutsia (Human and Constitution), Saertashoriso Samartali (International Law), Almanakhi, Tavisufleba (Liberty), Martlmsadjulebis Matsne, Advokati Meokhi, Journal of Constitutional Law, among others. The main newspapers are:

14.1. Important Notes on Primary Materials

The Constitutional Court issues decisions annually. The Supreme Court publishes cases and decisions in the different fields of law. These are:

The Supreme Court also uploads decisions to an electronic database. The Legislative Herald published by Parliament is also divided in three major issues: Laws of Georgia, Bylaws and Informational Edition.

Unfortunately, the latest versions of codes are not available online in English. The final criminal procedure code is not yet adopted, but a lot of changes are made. We are waiting shortly for this code to be published. As for the other codes, there definitely are the changes in those as well. Personally, I would not rely on the online source in terms of the updates of these codes (in English language) . Another unfortunate thing is that the Georgian legislation in not that often updated in English language.

There is no official publisher except for the parliament of Georgia that periodically publishes laws, codes, changes in the law etc. The edition title is "Legislative Herald" (sakanonmdeblo matsne) , this the only in print reliable source. As for the journals that publish cases, they might be found in the editions that are periodically published by the Constitutional and Supreme Courts. It makes no sense for the different publishing houses to issue Georgian legislation since the majority of the organizations and ordinary users have Codex program which is available in CD-ROM format and includes all of the latest updates from the Georgian legislation.

15. Web Resources