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Greece’s first: Council of State to be headed by female judge

For the first time in its 89-year-old history the Council of State will be headed by a woman. Judge Aikaterini Sakellaropoulou was chosen by the Greek cabinet to be the President of the country’s Supreme Administrative Court for the next four years.

Sakellaropoulou was one of the vice presidents under the presidency of Nikolaos Sakkellariou.

New vice presidents at the Council of state are Michalis Pikramenos and Dimitris Skaltounis.

The court comprises the presiding board (the President and 7 Vice-presidents), 42 Privy Councillors, 48 Associate Judges and 50 Reporting Judges, all graduates of the National School of Judges.

The Council executes its jurisdiction in Plenary Session or in six Chambers-Judicial Formations. Each Chamber may have two compositions: five-member or seven-member. The jurisdiction of the Plenary Session is determined by the law (Legislative Decree 170/1973, Article 14), while the competence of the Chambers is determined by the law and the presidential decrees, proposed by the Minister of Justice after an opinion of the Council.

After the Constitutional Amendment of 2001 the Plenary Session (and not the Chambers) is the only competent to judge the constitutionality of laws.

The Plenary Session is, also, competent: a) for cases of general interest that the President introduces directly into it, b) for cases that one of the Chambers submits to it.

These cases are submitted by the Chambers to the Plenary Session for two reasons: either because they are cases of general interest or because the applicable legislative provision is judged unconstitutional.

The administrative competence of the Council, as one of the three Big Bodies of the Public Administration (the other two are the Chamber of Accounts and the Hellenic Legal Council) is regulated by the article 95 of the Constitution of 1974/1985/2001 and consists in the elaboration of all the regulative decrees, namely of all the decrees that include impersonal (nor referring to a particular person) legal rules.

The Council is the head of the system of administrative justice and it constitutes the Supreme Administrative Court. A case is introduced into the Council with the following legal means or remedies:

  • the recourse (writ of annulment), with which the annulment of an administrative act is pursued. The Council judges only the legal aspects of the case and not the true facts. Its decision includes a judgement about legality and not a control upon the merits.
  • the writ of certiorari (αίτηση αναιρέσεως) against the decisions of the lower administrative courts (Administrative Courts of First Instance and Administrative Courts of Appeals), which judge recourses (προσφυγές) and their decisions include a control upon the merits. The writ of certiorari is constitutionally consolidated (article 95 of the Constitution 1975/1986/2001) and places the Council at the top of the administrative branch of justice, because it has the last word in the legal aspects of every administrative litigation.
  • the clerical recourse, with which disputes between the State and the civil servants are introduced into the Council. The decision of the Council includes a judgement both about the legality and upon the merits of the case.
  • the appeal against the decisions of the Administrative Court of Appeals, which judges at first instance certain writs of annulment (according to the provisions of the Law 702/1977). In this case, the Council judges as a court of appeals and the Administrative Court of Appeals as a court of first instance. (source)

The CoS was first founded in 1835 and it constituted an imitation of the French Conseil d’État.  The Council was suppressed by the Constitution of 1844 (article 102). Following the deposing of King Otto in 1862, the National Assembly that was convened decided to re-establish the Council in order to “prepare and deliberate on law proposals”.

However, it could not be re-establishment and re-founded until 1928. Its first President was appointed in 1929.

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