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Tunisia: Court structure

The Constitution states that the judiciary is composed of the Court of Cassation, appellate courts and courts of first instance. The Constitution provides that a law will establish the organization of the judicial system, its procedures and the statute of its judges.[1]

Currently, in the absence of a law implementing article 115 of the Constitution, the organization of jurisdictions remains governed by Law No. 67-29. According to Law No. 67-29, there are five jurisdictions of the judicial order, comprising a Court of Cassation, appellate courts, property courts, first instance tribunals and district courts.[2] The jurisdictions are created by Decree[3] and the law determines their competence.[4] Currently, there are 139 courts.[5]

Pursuant to the Constitution, the administrative judiciary is composed of the Supreme Administrative Court, the administrative courts of appeal and administrative courts of first instance. The administrative courts have jurisdiction over cases involving the alleged abuse of power by the administration as well as all administrative disputes. A law is to regulate the organization, mandate, procedures and the statute of judges.[6] As of 19 November 2014, only the Administrative Tribunal in Tunis had been established; the reform of the administrative justice system remains to be implemented.[7]

The financial judiciary is composed of the Court of Audit with its different bodies. It oversees the sound management of public funds in accordance with the principles of legality, efficiency and transparency. Its organization, mandate, procedures and the statute of its judges are to be regulated by law.[8] As of 19 November 2014, it was unclear whether there will be a new law or whether the current law[9] will remain in force.

The Constitutional Court is an independent judicial body, composed of 12 members three-quarters of whom are legal experts having no less than twenty years’ experience.[10] The Constitutional Court is the sole body competent to oversee the constitutionality of draft laws, constitutional draft laws, treaties, laws referred to it by courts in a preliminary reference-type procedure, and the rules of procedure of the Assembly of People’s Representatives; the Constitution specifies who can take the initiative to submit the question of constitutionality to the Court.[11]

The public prosecution service is part of the judicial order and benefits from the same constitutional protections as the judiciary. The magistrates of the public prosecution service exercise their functions in the framework of the penal policy of the State and in conformity with the procedures established by law.[12] (Further see Section C.)

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. 1. 2014 Constitution, Article 115.

    The Supreme Judicial Council is composed of four bodies, which are the Judiciary Council, the Administrative Judicial Council, the Financial Judicial Council, and the General Assembly of the three judicial councils.

    Two-thirds of each of these structures is composed of judges, the majority of whom are elected, in addition to judges appointed on merit, while the remaining third shall be composed of independent, specialized persons who are not judges. The majority of the members of these bodies shall be elected. Elected members exercise their functions for a single six-year term.

    The Supreme Judicial Council shall elect its president from amongst its most senior judges.

    The law establishes the mandate of each of the four bodies, and their composition, organization, and procedures.

  2. 2. Law No. 67-29, Article 1.
  3. 3. Law No. 67-29, Article 2.
  4. 4. Law No. 67-29, Article 3.
  5. 5. See Portail de la Justice en Tunésie (last accessed on 11 August 2014).
  6. 6. 2014 Constitution, Article 116.

    The judiciary is composed of the Court of Cassation, appellate courts and courts of first instance.

    The public prosecution service is part of the judicial justice system, and benefits from the same constitutional protections. The judges of the public prosecution service exercise their functions as determined by the law and within the framework of the penal policy of the State in conformity with the procedures established by the law.

    The Court of Cassation prepares an annual report which it submits to the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, the Head of Government and the President of the Supreme Judicial Council. The report is published.

    The law establishes the organization of the judicial system, its mandates, its procedures, as well as the statute of its judges.

  7. 7. Law No. 72-40, which establishes the Tribunal Administratif in Tunis, will need to be amended or replaced in light of the new administrative justice system set out in the Constitution.
  8. 8. 2014 Constitution, Article 117.

    The Financial Judiciary is composed of the Court of Audit with its different bodies.

    The Court of Audit oversees the sound management of public funds in accordance with the principles of legality, efficiency and transparency. The Financial Judiciary rules on the accounts of public auditors. It assesses accounting methods and sanctions errors and failings that it discovers. The Financial Judiciary assists the legislative and executive powers in overseeing the execution of the Finance Law and the closure of the budget.

    The Court of Audit prepares a general annual report and submits it to the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, the Head of Government, and the President of the Supreme Judicial Council. The report is published. The Court of Audit shall, when necessary, prepare special reports that it may decide to publish.

    The organization, mandate and procedures of the Court of Audit, as well as the statute of its judges, are regulated by law.

  9. 9. Law No. 68-8 concerning the organization of the Court of Audit.
  10. 10.2014 Constitution, Article 118.

    The Constitutional Court is an independent judicial body, composed of 12 competent members, three-quarters of whom are legal experts with at least 20 years of experience.

    The President of the Republic, the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, and the Supreme Judicial Council shall each appoint four members, three quarters of whom must be legal specialists. The nomination is for a single nine-year term.

    One-third of the members of the Constitutional Court shall be renewed every three years. Any vacancies in the Court shall be filled according to the same procedure followed upon the establishment of the court, taking into account the appointing party and the relevant areas of specialization.

    Members of the Court elect a President and a Vice President of the Court from amongst its members who are specialists in law.

  11. 11. 2014 Constitution, Article 120.

    The Constitutional Court is the sole body competent to oversee the constitutionality of the following:

    – Draft laws, upon the request of the President of the Republic, the Head of Government, or thirty members of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People. The request shall be filed within seven days from the Assembly’s ratification of the draft law or ratification of a draft law in a modified version, after it has been returned from the President of the Republic.

    – Constitutional draft laws submitted to it by the President of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People as specified in Article 144 or to determine whether the procedures of amending the Constitution have been respected.

    – Treaties presented to it by the President of the Republic before the draft law approving them is signed.

    – Laws referred to it by courts as a result of a request filed by a court, in the case of the invocation of a claim of unconstitutionality by one of the parties in litigation, in accordance with the procedures established by law.

    – The rules of procedure of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, submitted to it by the Speaker of the Assembly.

    The Constitutional Court is also responsible for other tasks that are conferred upon it by the Constitution.

  12. 12. 2014 Constitution, Article 115.

    The judiciary is composed of the Court of Cassation, appellate courts and courts of first instance.

    The public prosecution service is part of the judicial justice system, and benefits from the same constitutional protections. The judges of the public prosecution service exercise their functions as determined by the law and within the framework of the penal policy of the State in conformity with the procedures established by the law.

    The Court of Cassation prepares an annual report which it submits to the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, the Head of Government and the President of the Supreme Judicial Council. The report is published.

    The law establishes the organization of the judicial system, its mandates, its procedures, as well as the statute of its judges.

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