Extent of jurisdiction of the Administrative Court

Extent of jurisdiction of the Administrative Court

by George Coucounis

“It has no jurisdiction in an application for execution of a judgment for costs”

THE Constitution in the context of its 8th amendment with Law 130 (I)/2015 amended article 146 and provided for the establishment, jurisdiction and powers of the Administrative Court to deal with and decide on a recourse related to a matter of public law. In particular, it empowered the Administrative Court to consider and decide, in the first instance, any recourse brought before it against a decision, act or omission of any body, authority or person exercising an executive or administrative function, because it is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution or the law or has been done in excess or abuse of power entrusted to that body or authority or person. The Administrative Court with its decision may, in whole or in part, uphold that decision or act or omission, declare the decision or act invalid and that it lacks any effect, or declare the omission invalid and everything that was omitted should have been enforced, or amend the decision or act, as the law on the Administrative Court defines, provided that it concerns a tax issue or is a decision relating to an international protection procedure under European Union law.

 Α question arises as to whether the Administrative Court, in the context of its reviewing or annulling jurisdiction, has or not jurisdiction to deal with an application for the execution of a judgment for costs that have been awarded and have not been paid, by examining the debtor and issuing an order against him for monthly payments. This legal issue concerning the jurisdiction of the Administrative Court to deal with such an application was raised ex officio by the President of the Court in her decision of 10.3.2021, whereby she interprets and analyzes the constitutional, legislative and regulatory provisions governing the issue.

The applicants referred to the Law on the Establishment and Functioning of the Administrative Court, Law 131 (I)/2015, article 11, which concerns jurisdiction and provides that the President and every Judge shall exercise the powers vested in the Administrative Court by the Constitution, the provisions of this Law and any other Law in force at the time, and it was suggested that it also concerns the Law on Civil Procedure, Cap.6, which vests in the “Court” dealing with lawsuits and the jurisdiction for the execution of court decisions. They referred to Article 82 (1) of Cap.6 which, inter alia, states that when a debt due by a court decision or order remains in full or in part unpaid (regardless of whether or not any writ of execution has been issued), the creditor may apply to the Court in order to examine the debtor on his ability to pay his debt by monthly instalments.

The President of the Court in her judgment emphasizes that it escaped from the reasoning of the applicants that the Constitution authorizes the enactment of a law or laws that regulate the jurisdiction and powers of the Administrative Court, save the provisions of Article 146, and that in Cap.6 the term “court” is defined as the Court before which the action to which the application is submitted is brought. The Court was not in agreement with this submission of the applicants, since this term refers to the specific law where it is found. She added that the Civil Procedure Rules are applied proportionally where and when necessary at the discretion of the Administrative Court, with the necessary adjustments to be in line with the nature of its jurisdiction. However, their application up to giving jurisdiction to the Administrative Court to issue an Order for examination and payment by monthly instalments for the execution of the order for costs, under Cap.6, which explicitly entrusts such jurisdiction to the Civil Courts, there is a big difference, which cannot be covered outside the intentions of the Legislator (Cap.6).

Finally, the President of the Court emphasized that paragraph 6 of Article 146 of the Constitution is of great interpretative importance. According to it, the party who suffered a damage by an annulled administrative decision or omission may apply to the “court” for restoration of fair and reasonable compensation, something that caselaw decided that concerns only the Civil Courts and not the Supreme Court under Article 146.6. Regarding the damage from the non-compliance with the order for costs, which were awarded in a dismissive judgment, the applicant should also seek his restoration in the Civil Courts under article 82 of Cap.6.