Council of State Administrative Law
|DATE OF PROMULGATION
||Approved by the People’s Assembly on November 14, 2019
Promulgated by President Bashar Al-Assad on December 16, 2019
- Governs the Council of State Administrative Court.
- The Law was approved for a second time by the People’s Assembly following its unprecedented referral to the Supreme Constitutional Court by President Al-Assad following concerns that some of its provisions were unconstitutional though the situation was rectified accordingly.
- The role of the Council of State is to pass judgments in administrative cases involving the state and to serve as an advisory body to public entities.
- The Council of State consists of two divisions – the Judicial Division and the Advisory Division.
- The Council of State Administrative Court is the judicial body concerned with resolving disputes where one of the parties to the lawsuit is a governmental or public sector entity.
- The Law grants the Council of State the status of an independent judicial body with its own budget free from the oversight of the Council of Ministers and the executive branch, which has been the case for 60 years.
- It is also granted independence in its operations similar in nature to that of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
- In addition to its judicial capacity, the Council of State also possesses an advisory function and issues legal opinions to ministries and government departments on aspects of the law where appropriate.
- New bodies were also established in the Council of State including the Department for the Unification of Principles, the Inspection Department, the Disciplinary Board and the General Assembly of the Supreme Administrative Court.
- The General Assembly of the Supreme Administrative Court is comprised of its senior judges to validate judicial precedents from cases.
- There is now also a body entrusted with preparing and pleading cases in cooperation with public authorities.
- The new Law makes provision for disciplinary courts which were previously governed by a separate law issued in 1990.
- The powers of the Council of State have also been expanded, such as by becoming specialized in contractual disputes agreed by popular organizations and professional syndicates if they are concluded in accordance with the provisions of the Public Procurement Law.
- The Council of State will also become more concerned with disputes involving taxes and fees.
- The Law indicates that it is permissible to refer to the Civil Procedure Code if there is no applicable provision contained in the Council of State Administrative Law, which was already previously the case. The same principle applies to the Civil Service Code and the Judiciary Law.
- The Law stipulates the conditions for filing lawsuits to set aside arbitration awards involving a governmental or public sector disputant by adopting similar provisions from the Arbitration Law 4/2008, which is applicable to contacting parties in the private sector.
- Accordingly, arbitral awards that have not yet reached the stage of being deemed final and executory may be appealed on procedural grounds before the Supreme Administrative Court, the highest court in the Council of State.
- In any case, the Administrative Courts in the Council of State are competent and capable of ensuring the enforcement of arbitral awards.
- The Law also provides that in the event arbitral awards are to be appealed, they can only be challenged on the grounds of procedural irregularities and not substantive issues as well, which was previously the case.
- Law 32/2019 replaces the previous Council of State Administrative Law provided for in Legislative Decree 55/1959, which dates back to the era of President Gamal Abdel-Nasser.
- The Council of State was established during the short-lived era of the United Arab Republic when Syria and Egypt were joined together as one country under the leadership of President Gamal Abdel-Nasser.
- The Council of State Administrative Law was enacted against the backdrop of a drawdown of the conflict in Syria and was necessary since the previous one was in need of a replacement given that it was 60 years old.