The Human Rights Defender
of Armenia has published a public Ad-Hoc Report about the dangers of the
tenfold increase in the state duty rates for applications to the courts.
According to the Human
Rights Defender, the news rates create legal obstacles to apply to the court
for the purpose of restoration of violated rights, and will lead to lead to
unreasonable restrictions on the accessibility of courts.
In particular, on October
29, 2021, the amendments to the Law on State Duties entered into force,
according to which the state duty rates for filing lawsuits, applications,
appeals and cassation complaints against judicial acts, as well as to the state
duty rates of the relevant photographs (photographic film), recordings, videos
of the court cases, and the issuing of photocopies of the electronic versions
of the above-mentioned in electronic storage devices.
For example, the minimum
state duty threshold has increased from 1,500 AMDs to 6,000 AMDs, lawsuits for
non-monetary applications from 4000 AMDs to 20,000 AMDs, the fees for appeals
on non-monetary claims from 10,000 AMDs to 30,000 AMDs, for appeals to the
court of cassation from 20,000 AMDs to 40,000 AMDs, the fee for bankruptcy
applications of 500,000 AMDs to 1,000,000 AMDs, the fees for applications for
confirmation of facts of legal significance from 2,000 AMDS to 20,000 AMDs,
etc. Some exemptions from state duty fees have also been abolished.
The Human Rights has
filed an application to the Constitutional Court about this issue, in which
they have specifically referred to the justifications for increasing the state
duty rates several times, which were presented during the adoption of the
draft. These justifications are presented in such a way as if it is only
possible to cover the expenses necessary for ensuring the normal functioning of
the courts only by increasing the amount of state duties.
This implies that, the
more the state duty rates are increased, the faster and easier the problems of
the judicial system will be solved. In fact, the way to solve these issue is
not to increase the state duties, but to allocate money to the Judicial
Department of the Republic of Armenia to ensure the normal operation of the
courts, according to the Law on State Budget of the Republic of Armenia (which
is done every year).
In other words, the
beneficiary of justice is the whole society; therefore, it is not right to put
the entire burden of paying the necessary expenses to ensure the normal
operation of the courts only on the participants of the trial. This way will
simply lead to the restriction of the constitutional and internationally
guaranteed right to access to a court.
The issues of improving
the logistics of the courts, increasing the number of judges and the servants
attached to them, improving their social guarantees, including improvement of
their remuneration, and promoting the recruitment of new cadres into the
judiciary should not be the basis for creating structures restricting human and
constitutional rights, guaranteeing the protection of which and preventing
their violation should be one of the primary priorities of the state.
It is also not acceptable
to cite the changes in the minimum wage as a justification for raising the
state duty rates, which amounted to 13,000 AMD in 2003, and 68,000 AMD and in
2020, and increase of 5.2 times.
The analysis of the
Office of the Human Rights Defender shows that in the period from 2003 to 2021,
along with the increase in the minimum wage, the prices of consumer goods,
services, etc. also increased, which means that only the minimum or average
monthly wage indicators, and the value of the minimum consumer basket are not
sufficient to justify the increase in state duty rates.
Such issues need to be
addressed through mechanisms that do not disproportionately restrict the
constitutionally guaranteed rights of the individual. Addressing existing
issues in the state system by increasing the amount of duties and restricting
human rights is an absolutely unacceptable approach.
Solving the existing
issues in the State apparatus through the increase in the rates of duties and
restricting human rights is a completely unacceptable approach.