It is fundamental to any judicial system that it be fair, objective and equally available to all citizens it serves without regard to their background, beliefs or economic standing. There are several methods that a truly independent judicial institution must employ to assure its proper place in government and in the society it serves. Barriers to access to justice in Armenia come in different forms. The lack of information about courts and how they may be accessed to best serve the people ranks as an important barrier, closely related to the lack of trust and confidence. At the same time, there are other key factors that contribute to the present low status of courts in the eyes of their users. Among these are the overall administrative and supervision structure of courts, performance and attitude of court staff, budgetary constraints and non-participatory budget formation, etc., which require multi-tiered and comprehensive solutions.  
Indeed, the existing system of court administration in Armenia is recognized by many involved in the justice system – judges, prosecutors, attorneys and court-users generally – as in need of substantial changes. The system at present often impedes the administration of justice rather than facilitates it: judges spend too much time engaged in clerical and administrative tasks, thus hindering reliable, consistent and fair application of the law; the Council of Courts Chairmen was intended to be a “court administration body”, but its decisions have no legal force. In general, the court administration needs to be re-conceptualized as a service system of users and providers, rather than a purely bureaucratic system of control, one that demands long-range planning and involvement of multiple categories of professionals interested in the court system. It is therefore critical to carry out a profound assessment and analysis of the existing system of court administration and provide policy recommendations on its modernization.
According to the Constitution of Armenia, courts of general jurisdiction are courts of the first instance, courts of appeal and the court of cassation. There can also be economic, military and other courts as may be provided by law. For the implementation of this provision, the Law on Judiciary adopted in 1998 states the Armenian judicial system as follows:
According to the official statistics, in 2004 the courts have employed in total 1,954 staff. These court officials are outside the broad umbrella of the State Service, which includes the Civil Service, the Police, the Custom Service, the Diplomatic Service, the National Assembly and Emergency Services. There is no legislative framework for court employment that provides for employee status, criteria for admission to and withdrawal from service or salary setting as was established for State Service employees within the framework of recent public administration reforms. Courts lack statutory protection for its employees. Therefore, it is necessary to assess the options on how best to address this regulation gap – by drafting a new Courts Act or preparing major amendments and additions to the existing Law on Judiciary and other relevant regulations. This is hoped to be accomplished and incorporated in the final policy recommendations.  


The objectives of the project are to perform a qualified analysis/research and develop specific and practical policy recommendations on the judicial service and necessary improvement of the judicial administrative function – court administration. The project will focus on:

The need for the proposed research is particularly significant at the present stage of public administration reforms in Armenia. Having started in mid-90s, the following reforms have taken place: introduction of the civil service, adoption of the Law on Civil Service that differentiates political, discretionary and civil service posts and establishes a new job classification system, regulates personnel management and labor relations within civil service; adoption of the Law on Public Service in the National Assembly that sets provisions for administration and personnel management of public servants employed by the parliament; adoption of the Law on Public Administration Institutions, which provides for the main functions of the founder, head of a state body, and chief of staff in respective institutions; adoption of the Law on Judiciary and Law on Justice Council, which address the selection/appointment, compensation, labor and service relations of judges only. This leaves out the determination of the legal status of courts staff and regulation of their functions, accountability, appointment and dismissal. The lack of transparent and unified court administration structure and policies potentially gives grounds for nepotism, arbitrary actions and decline in trust and confidence in courts administration system.  

Apart from policy recommendations, it is intended to develop plain language informational booklet to guide court users and public in general to more easily navigate the court procedures and processes. The booklet will be published in local language and distributed widely to NGOs, public and university libraries, courts in the capital and regions, information centers, etc. The proposed informational court guide in local language will be an invaluable outcome of the project. It is even more important given the complete lack of such informational materials on court services in Armenia. Previously, through the assistance of various international donor organizations, several brochures have been published related only to the general structure of the judicial branch in the Republic.  


The final output of the project will be:
  1. a research paper and a policy recommendations package with an action plan, which will be distributed among relevant state authorities, NGOs, academic circles, donor organizations and made available at a web site for a wider use by interested public. The research findings and recommendations will also be presented and discussed at the “Public Administration” course with the social sciences students of the Yerevan State Linguistic University;
  2. publication of a user-friendly court guide - an informational pamphlet on court operation and services and access to them (including the steps and procedures for effective claim filing, complaint form, appeals process). The pamphlet will provide basic instructions to court users in layman’s language and terms and will be distributed to courts, NGOs, libraries, civic and other groups;
  3. articles in native language published in local newspapers and aimed at increasing citizen awareness and obtaining public’s and policy makers’ “buy in” for the proposed changes. The articles will be printed at various stages of the project implementation.
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