PERIOD 1912-1920

The declaration of independence marked the first steps in the creation of the institutions of the new Albanian state, where the parliament of Vlora and the government headed by Ismail Qemali, in addition to important initiatives for the creation of the main bodies of legislative and executive power, also focused on reorganization of the judiciary. On May 10, 1913, the "Canon of the Jury" was approved, which was the first act and cornerstone for the organization and functioning of courts in the Albanian judicial system. The "Canon of Jury" provided for the establishment of the Court of Dictation, courts of the first instance of sub-prefectures which were competent for the adjudication of civil cases and minor offenses, as well as the People's Court with a jury which would hear criminal cases with People’s representatives.

We have been informed that this system was implemented in at least one case in Elbasan but failed to produce the expected results and was repealed by a decree dated June 4th, 1914, where the law on courts of justice in Albania was adopted, which established the Primary Court of Appeal and Dictation.

PERIOD  1920-1939

During 1920-1939 the main issues in the field of law of great importance for our state were legal reforms, reorganization of judicial bodies and training of their staff. During this period, the organization and functioning of the judicial system began to crystallize better.

The adoption of the Basic Statute of the Republic of Albania of 1925 provided in its Article 102 that every judge and prosecutor would be appointed to office by the President of the Republic, upon a proposal of the Minister of Justice. During this period the judicial system was organized in:

Religious Courts, of each of the three religions. The decisions of these courts were enforced by the bailiffs' offices at the courts of the sub-prefectures

The Special Military Court, established for the first time in Shkodra, consisted of three officers, two civilian members and a civilian prosecutor. This court investigated and tried all cases of crimes that had "caused the disturbance of internal peace", convicted defendants regardless of their rank or position, convicted not only officers who had fought against Zogist forces, but also all citizens who were opposed to government officials.

The Special Political Court was chaired by an officer and composed of two judges and two officers being elected by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The

decisions of this court were final and approved by the Minister of Internal Affairs. In case of a death penalty, the approval of the Speaker of Parliament was required.

The State High Court was composed of five senators and branch presidents of the Court of Dictation. It was set up as an "ad hoc" tribunal to hear and resolve cases involving high-profile crimes, other political crimes or crimes committed by ministers or senior state officials exercising their duty.

The significant changes that took place in 1928, when Albania transitioned from the parliamentary system of government to the monarchical system of government, were also reflected in the way the judiciary functioned, especially the adoption on April 1st, 1929 of the law "On the organization of justice", which sanctioned the division of courts into:

The Court of Peace operated in the centers of each prefecture and sub-prefecture, and according to importance, were divided into three classes.

The Court of First Instance operated in each prefecture center, and as a collegial court extended its activity throughout the administrative jurisdiction of the prefecture. These courts were divided into Primary Courts and Collegiate Courts:

The Primary Court tried in the first instance all criminal cases within the jurisdiction of the Peace Court, for the offenses which had taken place within the prefecture.

The Collegiate Court consisted of a chairman and two members and had the power to adjudicate all criminal cases for crimes (offenses), which were punishable by imprisonment of more than three years.

The Court of Dictation (today the Supreme Court), was divided into two branches: the Civil Affairs Branch, the Criminal Affairs Branch. Each of its branches consisted of a chairperson/ president, four members, an assistant member, a chief secretary, and the necessary number of secretaries, summoners, and clerks. By each Court of Dictation, there was a chief prosecutor, a deputy chief prosecutor, a secretary, a protocol-archivist and an assistant.

The Court of Dictation could also convene in the General Meeting, where the duty of the Chairperson was exercised by the Chair of the Civil Branch. The characteristic of the decisions of the Court of Dictation was guaranteeing due process, impartiality and independence of judges.

During the monarchy, the function of the high administrative court was exercised by the Council of State, which was divided into the Section of Justice, Administration and Finance, Economy and Communications.

PERIOD  1944-1991

According to law on the judicial organization (1951), the Supreme Court was composed of the following judicial chambers:

- Criminal Chamber

- Civil Chamber

- Military Chamber

- Disciplinary Chamber

Each chamber tried cases of its substantive jurisdiction with a panel comprised of the Chairperson, a member of the Supreme Court, and two judicial assistants.

Interestingly, the disciplinary panel tried disciplinary violations of people's judges, chairpersons and members of military courts, and members of the Supreme Court, with a panel composed of the Chairperson or his deputy and two members of the Supreme Court appointed by the Chairperson.

The Supreme Court also adjudicated in the Plenum, which consisted of the Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons and all members of the Supreme Court.

The instructions of the Plenum of the Supreme Court, like the legal opinion as a whole, were guided by the politics and ideology of the communist regime.

Generalizations of case law made by the Supreme Court have served to orient the lower courts in adjudicating cases according to the political requirements, ideology and legislation of the time.

PERIOD  1990 - 2016

The overthrow of the communist totalitarian system and the transition to a democratic system of government, based on a completely new Constitution and legislation was accompanied by the need for major changes in all areas of life and adaptation to contemporary democratic systems. One of the essential changes was the establishment of an independent and impartial judicial system, based on the principle of legality and equality before the law.

Through law no.7491, dated 29.04.1991 “On the Main Constitutional Provisions”, the People's Assembly decided that the judicial system in Albania should consist of the Court of Cassation, the Court of Appeal, courts of first instance and the military courts.

Based on this law, the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairpersons of the Court of Cassation were elected by the People's Assembly upon a proposal of the President of the Republic. The other judges were elected by the People's Assembly. They were elected for a 7-year mandate with the right to re-election. The Court of Cassation could not hear any case in the first instance, while in the second instance were tried only cases as provided by law. With the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania in 1998, a system with three levels of instances was

sanctioned, including the Supreme Court, the courts of appeal and the courts of first instance, as established by law.

The Supreme Court was composed by 19 members appointed to office by the President of the Republic, with the consent of the Assembly for a 9-year term without the right of re-appointment. The Supreme Court had primary and reviewing jurisdiction trying as first instance the criminal charges against the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and members of the Council of Ministers, MPs, and judges of the Constitutional Court. On the other hand, under its reviewing jurisdiction, it reviewed the appeals filed against the decisions of the lower courts. Also, for the unification or change of case law, the Supreme Court adjudicated certain court cases in the Joint Chambers.

The organization and functioning of this independent constitutional institution was provided in its organic law no. 8588, dated 15.03.2000 “On the organization and functioning of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Albania” (as amended). This law provided that the Supreme Court adjudicated cases in its Civil, Criminal and Administrative Panels (established by special law in 2013), as well as in its Joint Chambers for the unifying or amending the case law.

The Chairperson of the Supreme Court was appointed by the President of the Republic, with the consent of the Assembly, among its existing members, and exercised this duty within the mandate as member of the court. The Chairperson was the head of the administration of the Court, appointing and dismissing all officials, as well as administering the budgetary funds made available.


Following the constitutional justice reform of 2016, Chapter XI of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania was amended and specifically Articles 135 onwards provide that judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President of the Republic on the proposal of High Judicial Council for a 9-year mandate, without the right to re-appointment. The President of the Republic, within 10 days following the decision of the High Judicial Council shall appoint the judge of the Supreme Court, except in cases when the President notices that the candidate does not meet the qualification criteria or the eligibility requirements, according to law.

The judge of the Supreme Court is elected amongst judges with at least of 13 years of experience in exercising their profession. One-fifth of judges in this court are selected from prominent jurists with no less than 15 years of experience as lawyer, law professors or lecturer, senior jurist in the public administration or other areas of law.

The Supreme Court hears cases related to the meaning and implementation of law in order to ensure the unification and development of case law, according to law. With regard to the change of case law, the Supreme Court adjudicates in Joint Chambers certain judicial cases that are designated by the chambers, according to law.

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