Dechert OnPoint: Supreme Court of Georgia on Civil Procedural Rights

Dechert Georgia, through the contribution of partners Archil Giorgadze and Nicola Mariani, joined by senior associates Ruslan Akhalaia and Irakli Sokolovski, as well as Ana Kostava and Ana Kochiashvili, is partnering with Georgia Today on a regular section of the paper to provide updated information regarding significant legal changes and developments in Georgia. In particular, we will highlight significant issues which may impact businesses operating in Georgia.




On 17 March 2016, the Supreme Court of Georgia (the “Court”) delivered an important decision (the “Decision”) regarding: (i) default judgments; (ii) the nature of the Appellate Court; and (iii) the significance of a defense brief under the Civil Procedure Code of Georgia (the “CPC”). Previously, in the event of a respondent's failure to submit a defense brief, the Appellate Court of Georgia applied the provisions regarding default judgements. The Decision was the first time when legality of such application was challenged before the Court. The Court defined the procedural rights of the parties and delivered its decision based on the adversary principles of civil procedure. This week’s OnPoint provides a brief overview of the procedures before the Appellate Court and the key interpretations under the Decision.


A default judgment is a final decision of a court in favor of the claimant when the respondent fails to take certain procedural actions before a court of law. The CPC provides for two special grounds for the delivery of a default judgment in the first instance courts of Georgia. Firstly, under Article 2321 of the CPC, if the respondent fails to submit a defense brief, the Court shall deliver a final judgment without an oral hearing. The claim shall be satisfied if the indicated circumstances provide legal justification for the claim. Secondly, under Article 230 of the CPC, the second ground for a default judgment is a failure of the respondent to appear before the court at the hearing.

CPC provides for the possibility of the Appellate Court of Georgia to deliver a default judgment in case the respondent does not appear at the hearing. However, there is no explicit indication to such option in case the respondent does not submit a defense brief. Such an absence was cause of varying interpretations and judgments.

The Decision resolved the issue as to whether the Appellate Court is entitled to deliver a default judgment in case of such failure by interpreting the nature of appellate proceedings and relevant institutions of civil procedure.


The Court explained that the Appellate Court is an institution that reviews the legality and substantiation of a decision of the first instance court.

Different jurisdictions recognize limited and unrestricted types of appellation. Unrestricted appellation is a proceeding when parties are entitled to present new factual circumstances and evidence that had not been presented before the first instance court. In this case, the Appellate Court fully reviews the case in the same manner as in the previous proceedings. For limited appeal proceedings, parties have the right to present new circumstances only in the exceptional situations prescribed by law.

The Court notes that the CPC and Georgian legislation envisage limited appeal proceedings according to which the Appellate Court is only entitled to review a claim in light of the facts and circumstances presented and examined in the first instance court. The Appellate Court is entitled to deliberate on facts only in exceptional circumstances.


Furthermore, the Court differentiates between two types of the default judgments. Under the CPC, the respondent must present a defense brief in first instance court and a failure to comply with the above results in a decision unfavorable for the respondent. The Court emphasizes that the court reviewing the case is obligated to deliver a default judgment and it does not have any discretionary power with regard to this matter if factual circumstances justify legal grounds of the claim. In case of the respondent’s failure to appear at the hearing, the court becomes obligated to deliver such judgment only in case the claimant submits a motion requesting the default judgment.


The Court further interpreted that a defense brief, as a mean of protection of a respondent’s rights, shall bear the importance of rejecting factual circumstances of the claim and responding to legal and procedural reasoning of the claimant. Failure to present a defense brief implies that the respondent agrees with the presented factual circumstances only but not with the law.

As noted above, the Appellate Court is not an instance which reviews factual circumstances since only legal and procedural questions are discussed during appellate proceedings. As a result, failure to present a defense brief before the Appellate Court does not imply that the respondent agrees with the law and argumentation of the appellant.

The Court additionally noted that the CPC intentionally excludes provisions setting out non-submission of the defense brief as a grounds for default ruling in case of appellate courts. Silence of law in this regard shall be viewed as a purpose of legislation to avoid application of default judgment at appellate level.

After analyzing relevant institutions of the civil procedure, the Court declared that the Appellate Court is not entitled to deliver a default judgment in case the respondent fails to present a defense brief. The Decision is significant since it interprets the rights of a respondent during appellate proceedings and it is expected to change the practice of the Appellate Court.

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Note: this article does not constitute legal advice. You are responsible for consulting with your own professional legal advisors concerning specific circumstances for your business.

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23 May 2016 19:35