Armenia to raise state duties for filing lawsuits

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YEREVAN, March 2. /ARKA/. The Armenian parliament is considering in the first reading a set of amendments to the law “On State Duty” and a number of related laws, which if approved would raise significantly the size of state duties for filing lawsuits.

According to Deputy Minister of Justice Vahe Danielyan, the size of some state duties have not been revised since 1999, while many socio-economic factors have changed during this period. Citing World Bank data, he said per capita GDP has grown 3.4 times, the average monthly salary by 8 times, the cost of the minimum consumer (subsistent) basket 3 times and the minimum wage 5 times.

“Socio-economic indicators have changed on average 4.1 times, the budget of the judicial system in 2018 was worth 9 billion drams, while proceeds raised as state duties amounted to only 1.7 billion drams. In 2019, the figures were 12 and 2 billion drams respectively. It turns out that expenses are 4-5 times higher than the proceeds,” Danielyan said.

He said a study revealed that the state duties in Armenia are very low. For example, in the Czech Republic, the minimum state duty is 22 euros, and in other cases it is an equivalent of 4% of the lawsuit. At the same time, 22 euros make up 17.5% of their minimum consumer basket, while in Armenia the minimum state duty is 1.5 thousand drams (to be increased to 6 thousand drams – ed.), which is 2.4% of the minimum consumer basket. In Estonia, the duty is 75 euros (52% of the basket), in Germany – 34%, in Belarus – 5% of the claim.

The deputy minister also noted that the state duty in Armenia is now 4 thousand drams for administrative cases irrespective of the amount of the imposed fine, while other countries apply a differentiated approach.

According to him, the proposed changes set also the upper limit of state duty. Thus, for lawsuits filed to the court of first instance it is 25 million drams, for the Court of Appeal – up to 15 million drams and for the Court of Cassation – up to 10 million drams.

The amount of state duty imposed in bankruptcy cases has been raised to 1 million drams and 500 thousand drams for legal entities and individuals respectively. The raise is supposed to cut the number of bankruptcy lawsuits.

“For an alternative settlement of disputes, exemptions are provided, in particular, no state duty will be levied on arbitration cases. No duties will be required also for cases of domestic violence and payment of alimony,” Danielyan said.

For her part, Ani Samsonyan, MP from the Bright Armenia opposition party, noted that the changes will reduce to some extent the workload of the courts, but on the other hand, people take their cases to court to seek protection of their rights, and the proposed changes do not contribute to that.

“The increase in the amount of state duties violates the principle of accessibility to court, and in the absence of alternative ways of resolving disputes, it would be a blow at the right of citizens to go to court to seek protection of their rights,” said Samsonyan.

Also, according to her, it is necessary to revise the lower level of the duty, especially given the current difficult economic situation in the country.

The Deputy Minister counted that the changes would protect the judicial system from handling unfounded claims and besides, they will significantly reduce the number of bankruptcy petitions. ($1 – 525.76 drams).

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