Our Analytics 25 july — 11:39

Ilham Aliyev on the letter and spirit of the law (Our editorial)

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BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

A few months ago, President Ilham Aliyev signed a historically significant decree on judicial and legal reform in Azerbaijan. The new stage of the reform policy, including economic, social and legal transformations, is intended to condition the revision of the fundamental principles of the social contract.

Network criticism and classical opposition ask themselves a question: why does the government constantly return to reformist rhetoric, announcing new innovations at every political stage. They say, when the reforms come to an end. The president himself has recently answered banal questions and groundless reproaches.

Ilham Aliyev said that reforms had been carried out permanently in Azerbaijan since 1993. And both socio-economic and political-legal transformations are implemented in accordance with the transformation of the world order and the cataclysms of the world economic system. The world is changing, the world order is being transformed, scientific and technological revolutions and breakthroughs are taking place that excite the global economy...

The new reform package in Azerbaijan has become a demand for new post-energy realities and a crushing fall in oil prices in the recent past, which led to a revision of the concept of a 'raw energy economy.' President Aliyev called to forget about oil, putting stakes on the diversification of the economy and the accelerated development of non-oil production.

Since 2015, the president has been carrying out a radical change in the national economy, creating all the prerequisites for the formation of a non-oil national entrepreneurial class, the locomotive of the economy with a new face. The NEP of the Azerbaijani government dictates a gradual abandonment of the state capitalism model, decentralisation and the beginning of the rapid development of small and medium businesses, heavy industry and agriculture. The thesis of import substitution became the cornerstone in Aliyev's NEP. Azerbaijan must enter the cohort of progressive countries that not only force out imports, but also increase the export potential of their economies.

This decree was preceded by a whole package of unprecedented measures and documents exempting entrepreneurs from all state inspections. That is, if at the first stage of economic and legal reforms the state freed the resurgent non-oil class not only from unreasonable, but also frequent legal checks, then at the second stage it was decided to qualitatively transform the entire judicial system.

Naturally, the new economic policy must be supported by an improved judicial and legal system. It is legal reforms that should completely reorganise the judicial system as the main guarantor of the inviolability of private property and the rights of the business class. The transformation of the economic system, the weakening of the role and intervention of the state, decentralisation, as a result of which the role of the private sector is increasing, began to cause numerous conflicts in relations both between state institutions and the private market, on the one hand, and between commercial actors, on the other. And the main regulator of legal disputes, the third branch of government, that is, the judicial system, is in for serious changes. Institutional reform of the entire judicial system is primarily intended to stand up for the rights of private business. Therefore, in his spring decree, the president focused on the dangerous signal that social control was emphasising: insufficiently effective work of the courts in the emerging new economic and social reality.

It is the courts and the legal system that are a reliable preventive mechanism in the fight against crime, including in the economic sphere. How can, for example, one defeat corruption or, say, curb monopolies outside the legal field? It is impossible in principle! In recent years, citizens and businessmen, whose rights were violated or somehow compromised, have been seeking salvation with the executive branch, in particular the president and first vice-president. That is, the executive role was practically forced to partially compensate for the lack of effectiveness of the judiciary.

However, Ilham Aliyev in his concept of state-building defines Azerbaijan as a state with legal foundations. And the president, strengthening the role of courts as a legal regulator, contributes to the modernisation of the mechanism for protecting the rights of private production and consumers.

On 19 July 2019, President Aliyev signed the first package of legislation covering the institutional component of the reforms. In his special comment for the media, President's Assistant Fuad Alasgarov said that comprehensive work is currently under way to prepare regular legal acts with the improvement of legislation.

The package of regulations provides for changes in the Law 'On Courts and Judges,' in the Civil Procedure, Administrative Procedure and Criminal Procedure Codes.

The main know-how of the reform is the creation of a double-circuit judicial system: administrative and commercial, which should ensure an increase in the specialisation of the courts and an increase in the requirements for the professional level of the judiciary.

Creation of two judicial systems -- administrative and commercial -- will allow to solve the general problem of congestion of courts and increase their efficiency. The adequacy of the judicial system to the pace of economic life is measured not only by the professionalism and infallibility of the judiciary, but also by the speed of adoption and execution of court decisions (the period for consideration of complaints on jurisdiction will be considered by the Supreme Court not in 2 months, but in only 10 days).

The changes will affect the higher courts, as in the Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court there will be created the corresponding boards. In this way, a kind of linkage will be created between the district courts and the higher courts.

The reform provides for the selection of candidates for new positions of judges, which, of course, will allow the selection of the most qualified people who also have a high reputation. For, as Fuad Alasgarov said in his comment to the Decree of the President, judges must fulfil not only the 'letter of the law,' but also the 'spirit of the law.'

And, of course, in addition to achieving the above goals, the president and society expect an increase in the authority of the courts.

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