The Albanian System of Justice consists of District Courts, Appellate Courts and the High Court. Each level deals with civil, criminal, commercial and administrative cases. The military system of justice is included in the criminal justice system.

The Albanian system of Justice has 346 judges and 226 assistant judges divided in 29 district courts, 6 appellate courts, 1 military appellate court and the High Court.

A. Courts of First Instance

The district courts are the basic element of the judiciary system. There are 302 judges, 226 assistant judges and 341 judicial secretaries working in these courts. The district courts have general jurisdiction. As a consequence they have a considerable workload.

Criminal cases are adjudicated in a panel of three judges when they deal with crimes and one judge and two assistant judges when they deal with penal misdemeanors (this system is due to change soon as the position of assistant judges is abrogated. A single judge shall adjudicate crimes the sentence for which is up to 5 years. A panel of three judges shall adjudicate more serious crimes). The Criminal Code requires special judges for juvenile cases; however, this is not implemented at present. The criminal courts has jurisdiction over all criminal case with the exception of those that fall under the jurisdiction of the military courts.

Civil cases (administrative and commercial cases are also to be read here) are reviewed by a panel composed of one judge and two assistant judges (following the approaching reform civil cases will be adjudicated by a single judge). All civil conflicts fall under their jurisdiction. Special sections on administrative, commercial and family cases are created within the first instance court.

Military Courts of first instance - Although the law provides for their establishment, these courts function as specially developed "colleges" within the district courts. There are 5 military courts that have territorial jurisdiction as defined by a decree of the President of the Republic. These Courts deal with military crimes, war hostages and other individuals as provided by law. The military courts administer justice in panels of three judges in cases of felonies and with one judge and two assistant judges in misdemeanor cases.

B. Appellate Courts

Albania has six appellate courts and one military appellate court, the latter with jurisdiction throughout the territory of the Republic. The appellate courts have 47 judges and 97 support staff administration.

The courts of appeal review appeals against the decisions of the first instance courts. They deliver their decisions in panels of three judges.

C. The High Court

The High Court has original and review jurisdiction. The Organization of the High Court has undergone continuous changes. The procedural competencies of the High Court are provided for in the Codes of Criminal and Civil Procedure. Competencies of a substantive nature are provided for by the Law No. 8363, dt. 1.07.1998 "On the Organization and Functioning of the High Court and the Administration of Judicial Services". Following the adoption of the new Constitution on November 1998, the High Court needs yet another regulatory intervention (a new organic law) which is almost completed.

The 15 High Court judges are organized in "colleges" (civil, criminal, administrative and commercial). As many as 14 legal advisors assist the judges with research work.

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Institute for Policy & Legal Studies 2000