Constitution of the Principality of Andorra (1993) (excerpts related to Judicial and Prosecution Systems) (English)
Constitution of the Principality of Andorra
- In the name of the Andorran people, justice is solely administered by independent judges, with security of tenure, and while in the performance of their judicial functions, bound only to the Constitution and the law.
- The whole judicial power is vested in a uniform organization of Justice. Its structure, functioning and the legal status of its members shall be regulated by a Qualified Law. No special jurisdiction shall be established.
- The rules of jurisdiction and procedure applying to the Administration of Justice are reserved to the law.
- In all cases, judgments shall be justified, founded in the legal system and publicly declared.
- Criminal trials are public, notwithstanding the limitations provided for by the law. Its procedure is preferentially oral. The judgment which terminates the first instance shall be rendered by a judicial organ different from the one in charge of the proceedings, and this judgment is always be subject to appeal.
- The jurisdictional defence of the general interest may be carried out by means of popular action in the cases regulated by the laws of procedure.
The judicial power is held by the Magistrates, (13) the Magistrates Court, the Criminal Law Court, and the High Court of Justice of Andorra, as well as by the respective presidents of those courts, in accordance with the law.
Judgments, once final, have the value of res judicata and may not be modified or quashed except in the cases provided for by the law or when, in exceptional cases, the Constitutional Court, after the corresponding process of Constitutional appeal, decides that they were rendered in violation of certain fundamental rights.
- The High Court of Justice, as the organ of representation, direction and administration of the organization of Justice, watches over the independence and proper functioning of the Justice. All its members shall be Andorran nationals.
- The High Court of Justice consists of five members appointed from Andorrans over twenty-five years of age, conversant with the Administration of Justice. One shall be appointed by each Coprince, one by the Syndic General, one by the Head of Government and one by Judges and Magistrates. They hold office for a six-year term and may not be elected twice consecutively. The High Court of Justice is presided over by the member appointed by the Syndic General.
- The High Court of Justice appoints Magistrates and Judges, exercises disciplinary authority over them and promotes the conditions for the Administration of Justice to carry out its duties with the means available. In order to fulfil this aim it may render its opinion in relation to the drafting of bills affecting the Judiciary or to report on the situation of the latter.
- The Qualified Law concerning the Judiciary shall regulate the functions and jurisdiction of this High Court.
- All Judges, whatever their rank, shall be appointed for a renewable six year term, being academically qualified lawyers and with technical capacity for the performance of the judicial office.
- The Presidents of the Magistrates Court, the Criminal Law Court, and the High Court of Justice are appointed by the High Court of Justice. The length of their term of office and the conditions for their eligibility shall be determined by the Qualified Law mentioned in article 89.4 of the Constitution.
- The office of Judge is not compatible with any other public post or with the exercise of commercial, industrial or professional activities. Remuneration of Judges is the sole responsibility of the State Budget.
- While Judges hold office they may not be admonished, displaced, suspended, or removed from their post, unless pursuant to a sanction imposed on grounds of disciplinary or criminal liability, by means of a procedure regulated by the Qualified Law and with the rights of hearing and defence fully guaranteed. The same law shall also regulate cases on the civil liability of Judges.
In accordance with the laws and notwithstanding the personal liability of those who caused them, the State shall cover any damages resulting from a miscarriage of justice or the abnormal functioning of the Administration of Justice.
- The Office of the Attorney General has the task of watching over the defence and enforcement of the legal system and the independence of courts, as well as the task of promoting before them the enforcement of the law, in order to safeguard the rights of the citizens and the protection of the general interest.
- The Office of the Attorney General is composed of members appointed by the High Court of Justice, upon the advice of the Government, for renewable six-year terms, by persons qualifying for appointment as Judges. Their legal status shall be regulated by law.
- The Office of the Attorney General, presided over by the State Attorney General, functions in accordance with the principles of legality, unity and internal hierarchy.
The Judges and the Office of the Attorney General are in charge of police activities related to judicial matters as provided for by law.
The Constitutional Court
- The Constitutional Court is the supreme interpreter of the Constitution, functions jurisdictionally, and its decisions bind public authorities and individuals alike.
- The Constitutional Court decides on its own rules of procedure and carries out its functions subject only to the Constitution and the corresponding Qualified Law regulating it.
- The Constitutional Court is composed of four Constitutional Senior Judges, appointed from persons of known juridical or institutional experience, one by each of the Coprinces and two by the General Council. They may not hold office for more than two consecutive eight-year terms. The renewal of the Constitutional Court will be partial. The system of incompatibility shall be regulated by the Qualified Law mentioned in the preceding article
- The Constitutional Court is presided over by the Senior Judge to whom the post corresponds, on the basis of a two-year rotation system.
- The Constitutional Court takes its decisions by a majority vote. Its votes and its debates are secret. The chairman, always chosen by drawing lots, has the deciding vote in case of a tie.
- The judgments which partially or wholly uphold an appeal have to determine the scope and extension of its consequences.
The Constitutional Court tries:
a) Appeals of unconstitutionality against laws, executive regulations and the Rules of Procedure of the General Council.
b) Requests of preliminary opinion of unconstitutionality about international laws and treaties.
c) Processes of constitutional appeal.
d) Conflicts of jurisdiction between constitutional organs. To this effect the Coprinces, the General Council, the Government, the High Court of Justice and the Local Councils are considered as constitutional organs.
- Appeals of unconstitutionality against laws or statutory rules may be lodged by one fifth of the General Council, the Head of Government and three Local Councils. One fifth of the General Council may lodge an appeal of unconstitutionality against the Rules of Procedure of the Chamber. The appeal shall be lodged within the thirty days following the publication of the rule.
- The lodging of an appeal does not suspend the enforcement of the rule under appeal. The Court shall pass judgment within a maximum period of two months.
- If, in the course of litigation, a court has reasoned and founded doubts about the constitutionality of a law or a legislative decree, the application of which is relevant to its decision, it shall request in writing the decision of the Constitutional Court about the validity of the rule in question.
- The Constitutional Court may not admit the transaction of the request without further appeal. If the request is admitted judgment shall be passed within a maximum period of two months.
- The Coprinces, under the provisions of article 46.1.f), the Head of Government or a fifth of the General Council, may request an opinion about the constitutionality of international treaties prior to their ratification. Proceedings of this nature shall take priority.
- The judgment admitting the unconstitutionality of a treaty shall prevent its ratification. In all cases the conclusion of an international treaty including stipulations contrary to the Constitution shall require the previous revision of the latter.
A constitutional appeal against the acts of public authorities impairing fundamental rights may be lodged by:
a) Those having been party or accessory to the previous legal proceedings referred to in article 41.2 of this Constitution.
b) Those having a legal interest relating to non-enforceable provisions or acts of the General Council.
c) The Office of the Attorney General in case of violation of the fundamental right of jurisdiction.
- Conflicts between the constitutional organs shall arise when one of them alleges that another is illegitimately carrying out tasks which are constitutionally under the jurisdiction of the first.
- The Constitutional Court may provisionally stay the enforcement of rules or acts under appeal, and when appropriate, give orders for the acts which originated the conflict to be stopped.
- The judgment shall determine and confer jurisdiction on one of the disputing parties.
- The lodging of a plea of conflict of jurisdiction prevents the matter from coming before the Administration of Justice.
- The law shall regulate the cases in which a conflict of jurisdiction may arise on grounds of the non-exercise by constitutional organs of the jurisdiction to which they are entitled.
A Qualified Law shall regulate the legal status of the members of the Constitutional Court, the constitutional proceedings and the functioning of the institution.