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Adopted by the National Assembly

on 17 June, 1998

The Law of the Republic of Armenia

on

the Status of Judges

 

Chapter 1.

General Provisions

Article 1. Scope of the Law

This law regulates the independence, financial and social security of a judge, relations connected with security and other guaranties of his/her activities, prescribes ground for termination of powers and the disciplinary responsibility of a judge, qualification ranks awarded to judges and privileges related thereto.

Laws and other normative legal acts regarding the status of a state employee concern judges to the extent that they do not contradict this law.

Article 2. Unity of the Status of Judges

In the Republic of Armenia chairmen and judges of the Courts of First Instance and Courts of Appeal, the chairman and judges of the Economic Court, the Chairman of the Court of Cassation, Chairmen and members of its Chambers, appointed in the manner prescribed by law, shall act as judges.

A person, to whom the power of administering justice is assigned in the manner prescribed by the Constitution and who performs his/her service duties on a permanent basis, shall act as a judge.

All judges shall have a uniform status and differ from each other only by their powers and jurisdiction.

Article 3. Effect of the Law

The effect of this law shall be extended to judges of Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal, and the Court of Cassation.

Article 4. Legislation Prescribing the Status of Judges

The status of judges is prescribed by the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, the Codes of Civil and Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Armenia, this law, the Law of the Republic of Armenia on the Organization of the Judiciary, and other laws.

Article 5. Independence of a Judge

During administration of justice judges shall be independent, and subordinate only to law.

During administration of justice judges shall not be accountable to any state body or official.

The grounds for and procedure for determining professional responsibility of judges shall be prescribed by law.

Article 6. Impermissibility of Interference in Activity of a Judge

Any interference of state bodies, local self-governing bodies and their officials, of political parties, public associations, and mass media in the activity of a judge while administering justice, shall be impermissible and bring forth responsibility prescribed by law.

Judges shall not be obliged to give explanations regarding the substance of a case or materials pertaining to any case assigned to that judge or to make them known to others in any way, other than in occasions and the manner prescribed by law.

Article 7. Liability for Disrespectful Conduct toward a Court

Threatening a judge or his/her relatives in connection with administration of justice, insulting him/her, intentionally not carrying out any judgement or decision or obstructing to its implementation, as well as disrespectful conduct toward a court by persons participating in a case or present at a court session, in whatever manner it was displayed, shall bring forth liability as prescribed by law.

Article 8. Non-political Status of a Judge

A judge shall not be a member of any political party, shall not be nominated as a candidate in elections, participate in pre-election campaign or undertake any political activity in any other manner.

Article 9. Limitations on a Judge to be Engaged in Other Activity

A judge shall not occupy any other state office position or undertake any paid work, except for scientific, pedagogical, and creative activity.

A judge shall not be a member of any state authority or local self-governing representative body.

A judge shall not be engaged in entrepreneurial activity.

Article 10. Irremovability of a Judge

A judge shall be irremovable.

A judge shall serve until the age of 65.

A judge shall not be transferred to work in other court without his/her written consent.

Judge may be temporarily assigned to another court of the same level, with his/her consent.

Grounds and procedure for termination of judge’s powers shall be prescribed by this law and other laws.

Article 11. Immunity of a Judge

A judge shall be immune.

Only the Procurator General of the Republic of Armenia may commence a criminal prosecution against a judge, and the former shall oversee the legality of the conduct of investigation of that case.

It shall not be permitted to take into custody a judge, or to bring him/her to criminal and administrative responsibility in a judicial proceedings without the consent of the President of the Republic based on a recommendation of the Council of Justice.

In case of the arrest, detention of a judge, his/her personal or his/her home-search, the pertinent body shall immediately notify about this the President of the Republic, the Council of Justice, and the Chairman of the Council of Court Chairmen.

Article 12. Judge’s Oath

A person appointed to an office of a judge takes an office by the following oath, given at the Council of Justice at the presence of the President of the Republic: "Taking the high office of a judge, I swear during administration of justice to be subordinate only to the Constitution and laws, to be impartial and a man of a principle, fair and humane, to keep high the reputation of the state and court".

The oath shall be given in solemn atmosphere where each judge in turn shall read the text of the oath.

The judge shall sign the text of the oath.

A judge shall take the oath no later than ten days after the appointment.

Chapter 2.

Rights and Duties of a Judge

Article 13. Rights of a Judge

Rights of a judge connected with administration of justice shall be prescribed by the Constitution, the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Armenia and the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Armenia, and other laws.

Judges may establish associations and be members of them for the purposes of representing their interests, raising their professional level and protecting their status.

A judge shall have a right to be a candidate for a membership in the Council of Justice.

Article 14. Duties of a Judge

A judge, while trying civil, commercial, criminal, and administrative cases, shall be obliged to strictly follow laws, to ensure the protection of persons’ honor and dignity, rights and duties prescribed by the Constitution and laws.

A judge shall be concerned about raising the level of his/her professional knowledge and quality of work.

A judge, both while carrying out his/her duties in court and in non-employment relations, shall avoid all such things, which may harm the reputation of the court and the high vocation of a judge, or give rise to doubts about being unbiased and impartial.

A judge shall not have the right to make public the confidentiality of judges’ conference and voting, the information obtained during closed sessions, both during, as well as after, his/her service as a judge.

Article 15. Judge and a Society

A judge shall strictly follow the norms of ethics and morals.

A judge shall be prohibited from publicly expressing a disrespectful attitude, in any manner, toward a law or the constitutional order of the Republic of Armenia. All actions, which may harm the reputation of the state and the court, shall be equally prohibited.

Chapter 3.

Material and Social Guaranties of a Judge’s Activity

Article 16. Salary of a Judge

The amount of a judge’s salary shall be prescribed by law, moreover:

judges of all courts of the same instance and chairmen of all courts of the same instance respectively shall be remunerated equally,

salaries of judges and chairmen of Courts of Appeal, and the judges and the chairman of the Economic Court, shall exceed salaries of judges and chairmen of Courts of First Instance respectively by ten percent,

salaries of judges and the Chairman of the Court of Cassation shall exceed salaries of judges and chairmen of Courts of Appeal respectively by ten percent.

The amount of salary of a judge shall not be less than salary of a chairman of the respective instance by more than ten percent.

The amount of salary of a Chairman of the Court of Cassation shall not be less than salary of the Chairman of the Court of Cassation by more than five percent.

Article 17. Additional Remuneration to a Judge’s Salary

A judge shall receive monetary remuneration additional to his/her salary for qualification rank and work experience.

Article 18. Right to a Pension of Persons Worked in an Office of a Judge

A judge shall have a right to receive a pension of the amount of 75 percent of the salary provided for his/her last office as a judge. Persons, who had worked as a judge for less than 3 years, or whose powers were terminated by the President of the Republic on grounds prescribed by Points 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11 of Part One of Article 30 of this law, shall not have this right.

Article 19. Vacation of a Judge

Judges shall have a right to a 30 workday-long paid annual vacation.

In distinct occasions, for personal, family, and other circumstances, the chairman of a court may grant additional unpaid vacation for up to 30 calendar days.

Article 20. Ensuring a Judge with Service Housing

When being appointed to work away from the place of his/her permanent residence, a judge shall be paid moving costs for the judge and members of his/her family, and shall also be reimbursed for rental of housing in an amount and manner prescribed by the government.

When being assigned away from the place of his/her permanent residence, judge shall be paid assignment costs in an amount and manner prescribed by the government.

Chapter 4.

Other Guaranties of a Judge’s Working Activity

Article 21. Judge’s Office Space

A judge shall have a separate service office space in accordance with a model furnishing list prescribed by the government. Telephone communication devices shall be installed in the office of a judge.

The image of the coat of arms of the Republic of Armenia shall be present in the office of a judge, and the state flag of the Republic of Armenia shall be installed in the office.

Article 22. Judge’s Uniform during a Court Session

A judge shall participate in a court session in a gown, which shall be provided free-of-charge.

The description of the gown shall be approved by the government.

Article 23. Staff of a Judge

The appointment of staff positions provided by law for each judge shall be made by the chairman of the pertinent court upon the nomination from the judge.

Article 24. Judge’s Security

A judge and members of his/her family shall be under the special protection of the state. Upon a judge’s application, competent state bodies are obliged to undertake all the necessary measures aimed at ensuring the security of a judge and members of his/her family.

Article 25. Judge’s Personal Means of Defense

Judges shall have a right to have and to wear a service weapon and special means of defense.

Article 26. Judge’s Military Registration

A judge, during the entire period of exercising of his/her powers, shall be freed from military service, military gatherings, and training gatherings.

Article 27. Right to Use Means of Communication

For establishing communication within the territory of the Republic of Armenia, a judge shall have a right to use means of communication under the disposal of state and local self-governing bodies.

Article 28. Judge’s Service Identification

Service identification for the entire tenure of office shall be granted to the judge by the President of the Republic.

Article 29. Judge’s Right of Audience

Judge shall have a right of immediate audience with members and Deputy Chairmen of the Council of Justice.

Chapter 5.

Termination of a Judge’s Powers and His/Her Disciplinary Responsibility

Article 30. Grounds for Termination of a Judge’s Powers

The President of the Republic shall terminate a judge’s powers on a basis of a recommendation of the Council of Justice, if:

the judge applies for (tenders resignation),

the judge has reached the age of 65,

the judge with his/her written consent has been elected or appointed to another position, or assumed another position inconsistent with the office of a judge,

the judge, because of temporary work disability, has not reported for work for more than four months,

the judge has not reported for work for more than ten days in a raw with invalid reasons,

the judge was appointed to office in violation of the requirements of law,

the judge committed an action, which is a ground for termination of powers according to the "Code of Judge’s Conduct",

the judge committed a gross violation of law during administration of justice,

on a basis of judgement which has entered into lawful force, the judge has been declared incapacitated, with limited capacity, missing without information, or deceased,

a judgement of criminal guilt regarding the judge has entered into lawful force,

the judge has violated the requirements of Articles 8 or 9 of this law,

the judge no longer possesses citizenship of the Republic of Armenia’s.

The issue of termination of a judge’s powers shall be brought to the Council of Justice by motion of the Minister of Justice.

The Minister of Justice may apply to the Council of Justice for the termination of a judge’s powers on the basis of a ground prescribed by Point 7 of Part One of this Article only after receiving the findings of the Council of Court Chairmen.

Article 31. Grounds for Disciplinary Responsibility of a Judge

A disciplinary responsibility of a judge shall be imposed by the Council of Justice.

The Minister of Justice has the right to commence disciplinary proceedings against a judge.

The following shall be grounds for a judge’s disciplinary responsibility:

violation of law during administration of justice,

violation of an employment discipline,

performing an action dishonorable for a judge, and

violation of requirements of Articles 14 and 15 of this law.

Overruling or alteration of a judicial act rendered by (or with the participation) of a judge does not in and of itself give rise to a judge’s liability, unless during the administration of justice the judge intentionally violated the law, or acted in bad faith which caused substantial consequences.

A judge may be subjected to a disciplinary sanction no later than three months after the date of the revelation of a violation not calculating the period for disciplinary proceedings or a time of judge’s absence from office with valid reasons, but no later than one year from the date of revelation.

Before submitting materials to the Council of Justice in a disciplinary proceeding the judge, regarding whom the proceedings were commenced, has a right to familiarize himself/herself with it. Moreover, the judge has a right to present additional explanations or bring motions to make additional inquiries.

Article 32. Types of Disciplinary Liability

While trying an issue of a judge’s disciplinary liability, the Council of Justice may impose on a judge following disciplinary sanctions:

reprimand, and

severe reprimand.

If the Council of Justice does not find it expedient to impose a disciplinary sanction on a judge, it may be satisfied by a mere inquiry into the issue and thereupon terminates the commenced disciplinary procedure.

The Council of Justice (and the Minister of Justice, prior to the examination of issue at the Council) shall terminate disciplinary procedure also in those cases, where the necessity of subjecting a judge to disciplinary responsibility is ungrounded, or when time limits prescribed by Part Five of Article 31 of this law have elapsed.

If during two years from the date of imposition of a disciplinary sanction on a judge that judge is not subjected to a new disciplinary sanction, he/she shall be considered as a person not subjected to a disciplinary sanction.

If disciplinary proceedings regarding a judge were commenced on the basis of several facts, only one measure of disciplinary sanctions shall be imposed on that judge.

Chapter 6.

Qualification Ranks of Judges

Article 33. Qualification Ranks of Judges

The following qualification ranks shall be awarded to judges of the Republic of Armenia:

the highest qualification rank,

first qualification rank,

second qualification rank,

third qualification rank,

fourth qualification rank,

fifth qualification rank.

Article 34. Consecutive Order of Awarding Qualification Ranks

Each qualification rank, as a rule, shall be awarded in a consecutive order in accordance with occupied office position, work experience, professional and practical features, and if the following minimal time of service in the previous qualification rank has elapsed:

fifth qualification rank – 3 years,

fourth qualification rank – 3 years,

third qualification rank – 4 years,

second qualification rank – 4 years.

The minimum time period for carrying first qualification rank shall not be prescribed.

Article 35. Award of Qualification Ranks

Qualification ranks, as a rule, shall be awarded:

the highest qualification rank and first qualification rank – to judges of the Court of Cassation of the Republic of Armenia,

second qualification rank and third qualification rank – to judges of Courts of Appeal of the Republic of Armenia,

fourth qualification rank and fifth qualification rank - to judges of Courts of First Instance of the Republic of Armenia.

Qualification ranks shall be awarded by the President of the Republic on the basis of the Council of Justice’s recommendation. The Minister of Justice shall apply to the Council of Justice with a motion to award a qualification ranks to judges.

Persons appointed to the office of a judge for the first time shall be awarded a proper qualification rank within a two-month period.

Article 36. Violation of a Consecutive Order of Awarding Gradual Qualification Ranks

New qualification rank, but no more than two grades, up to and including first qualification rank, without preserving consecutive award of qualification ranks and time of staying at corresponding level, shall be awarded:

in connection with occupying a judicial office or position with higher salary,

in cases of having obvious high qualification or special working indicators, irrespective of the currently occupied office.

Article 37. Additional Remuneration and Other Privileges Given for Qualification Ranks

Qualification ranks awarded to judges and privileges provided in connection with it, except for additional remuneration prescribed by Part Three of this Article, shall be preserved for life. In cases of a transfer to another job, ranks and privileges shall be preserved, unless the ranks with according privileges are not prescribed in connection with the new office.

Judges may be deprived of qualification ranks awarded to them only in cases of termination of their powers on grounds prescribed by Points 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11 of Part One of Article 30 of this law. Deprivation from a qualification rank shall be conducted in the same manner as prescribed for the award of it.

Additional monetary remuneration of the following amounts shall be prescribed with respect to judges carrying qualification ranks:

the highest qualification rank – 50 percent,

first qualification rank - 40 percent,

second qualification rank - 30 percent,

third qualification rank - 25 percent,

fourth qualification rank - 20 percent,

fifth qualification rank - 15 percent.

Additional remuneration shall be paid to judges carrying qualification ranks for work experience as the following percentage of basic salary:

5 – 10 years – 5 percent,

10 – 15 years – 10 percent,

15 – 20 years – 15 percent,

20 – 25 years – 20 percent,

more than 25 years – 25 percent, and one percent for each additional year exceeding 25.

The work experience considered as a basis for prescribing additional remuneration provided by Part Four of this Article shall include:

work or service in conjunction with which a judge had carried military, special, honorary, or other ranking grade, and

any other work as a lawyer.

Chapter 7.

Concluding Provisions

Article 38. Effective Date of this Law

This law shall enter into force on January 12, 1999.

Article 39. Acknowledging out of Effect some Legal Acts

From the effective date of this law the following legal acts shall no longer have legal effect: the Law of the Republic of Armenia on "Prescribing Qualification Ranks for Judges of Courts of the Republic of Armenia", and the Charter on "Awarding Qualification Ranks to Judges of Courts of the Republic of Armenia and Granting Them Additional Monetary Remuneration Respectively", approved by the Decision of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Armenia on July 30, 1993.

Article 40. Transitional Provision

The qualification ranks of judges carried by judges of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Armenia and District (City) People’s Courts shall be preserved for life, unless, after the establishment of new judicial system, in cases of being appointed to the office of a judge, they have been awarded higher qualification rank.

Signed by the President of the Republic

on July 14, 1998