|On June 4, 1999, the Constitutional Court of the
Republic of Albania reviewed an application submitted by the Supreme Court relating to the
alleged incompatibility of article 481/2 of the Code of Civil Procedure with article 141/2
of the Constitution.
Article 481/2 of the Code of Civil Procedure stipulates that "The Chairman of the Supreme Court may decide for the Court to rule in joint session of all its chambers for those cases submitted by individuals for which there exist different previous solutions by the single chambers, as well as for those cases which by their nature are of a certain importance".
Article 141/2 of the Constitution stipulates that " The Supreme Court may review a certain case in joint session of all its chambers for the purpose of unifying or changing the existing judicial practise".
On April 1, 1999, the Chairman of the Supreme Court decided to remand case no. 1216 for review by the Chambers of the Supreme Court in joint session. His decision was based on article 481/2 of Code of Civil Procedure which authorises the Chairman of the Supreme Court to remand certain cases for review by the chambers in a joint session if he considers the case to be of a particular importance.
The joint session of the chambers decided to suspend the proceedings and remand the case to the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court was asked to rule whether, under the present constitutional regime the chairman of the supreme court is entitled to remand a case for review in front of the joint session of the chambers merely because he personally believes the case to be of a significant importance.
Whereas the contradiction between the two provisions and the prevalence of one over the other were clear, the case was complicated by another constitutional provision, article 178/1 which stipulates: "Those laws and normative acts adopted before the entry into force of this constitution shall be applied as long as they have not been repealed".
Nevertheless, the Constitutional Court ruled that under the new constitutional regime, the only justified reason for reviewing a case in joint session of all chambers of the Supreme Court is the unification or the alteration of existing judicial practise. The language of the constitution is very clear in that regard. As for article 178/1, in one of its previous rulings, the Constitutional Court had established a precedent whereby article 178/1 is to be observed only when a certain law or normative act in its entirety (not just one or a few articles) is incompatible with a constitutional provision.
Finally the Court ruled for article 481/2 of the Code of Civil Procedure to be repealed.
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Institute for Policy & Legal Studies 2000