The territorial jurisdiction of cases in the courts of general jurisdiction
When entering into agreements of various kinds, citizens in the vast majority of cases do not pay attention to such essential conditions of the contract, as the place of jurisdiction in case of arguments or misunderstandings. This neglect is unwise, since in practice the contracts may often mention other organizations as the place of jurisdiction, specify courts that are in another city in the Republic of Armenia, or indeed in another country. As a result of this, a person may be forced to travel long distances in order to appear at the hearing. This incurs additional costs. In some cases, persons completely abandon the judicial protection due to the remote location of the court. Legislation of the Republic of Armenia stipulates that as a general rule the actual jurisdiction is established based on the location of the defendant.
Here we will focus on the territorial jurisdiction of cases in the courts of general jurisdiction of the Republic of Armenia. The territorial jurisdiction of the administrative courts has slightly different procedures and conditions. However, it provides for other types of jurisdiction.
Elective jurisdiction – description
Jurisdiction is established at the behest of the plaintiff in cases established by the RA Civil Procedural Code. For example; if an action is brought against many defendants residing in different regions of the Republic of Armenia, the claimant can sue in any of the regions. If the location of the defendant is unknown, the claim is submitted to the court at the location of the property of the defendant, or the last known place of residence (location). Should there be the existing business contract, then the action can be filed at the location specified in said contracts.
Please note, if your city has a representative office or a branch of a legal entity with whom you are in a contractual relationship, the action may be brought in the court of your city and will override the need to travel long distances.
Separately, please note the jurisdiction of disputes arising out of family relationships. In this case, if a child of the claimant lives with him/her in the territory of RA, the spouse wishing to divorce can sue for divorce in court at the place of residence. However, please be aware that the fact of the residence of the child with the parent must be proven in court. The parent can do so by providing a statement from the local registry and/or condominium together with the statement of claim. In addition, claims for alimony and proof of paternity may be filed in the court at the place of residence of the plaintiff.
Should one of the spouses be recognized as missing, or incapacitated due to a mental disorder, or sentenced to imprisonment, then again, the rule of electoral jurisdiction in which divorce action may be filed with the court at the place of residence (location) of the plaintiff? Claims for compensation for damage caused to health, as well as, the death of the main breadwinner, can be presented to the court at the plaintiff’s residence or place where the claimed harm occurred.
The claim for; the restoration of labor and other rights, the return of the property or its value, other claims associated with reimbursement of losses caused to a citizen by unlawful conviction, by unlawful criminal prosecution, by an illegal application of preventive detention in prison, or illegal imposition of an administrative penalty, by order to not leave the country, may be filed with the court at the place of residence of the plaintiff.
Prorogated contractual jurisdiction – description
Another type of territorial jurisdiction is the jurisdiction by mutual agreement and/or consent of the parties (prorogated contractual jurisdiction). This possibility, provided by the legislation of the Republic of Armenia is very convenient for the parties, as it allows them to agree and identify the court in which the trial will take place. Jurisdiction is determined by the agreement of the contracted parties. The agreement itself may relate to the sale of property, services, the performance of a certain kind of work, and so on. As a condition, the jurisdiction is included in the agreement as the last reservation. The parties may choose any court of law of the country and the law of the specified country to be applied in the proceedings. When selecting a specific judicial authority, the act must specify the full name of that authority, in order to avoid misunderstandings in future.
When signing the contract, one must carefully consider all of the items included within, especially those that establish jurisdiction over disputes. Terms of jurisdiction may be contained in the agreement or within the attached annex, which will indicate that all legal disputes are resolved, for example, at the location of the organization. However, please note, that the actual physical location and official address of the company may differ. The statement of claim in these cases submitted to the court is at the place of official registered office.
IE: if you live in Kapan and enter into an agreement to acquire any property from the company, the legal address of which is registered in Yerevan, when the condition on jurisdiction is the location of the organization, in this case, you will have to defend your rights in one of the Yerevan courts. Unless the organization has an officially registered branch or representative office in the city of Kapan. With regards to this, always do your due diligence and check all the points and items within any agreement or its’ annex, that establish jurisdiction over disputes.
Even if the contract has not established a place of agreed jurisdiction, then before the pending court decision on the adoption of the statement of claim, the parties may change the territorial jurisdiction by a written agreement.
The parties may also reach an agreement on the transfer of their dispute to arbitration (The Arbitral Tribunal), which is not included in the state courts of the Republic of Armenia. The Arbitral Tribunal considers most of the economic and business disputes, but this issue already belongs to the sphere of labor jurisdiction.
Exclusive jurisdiction – description
Exclusive jurisdiction of cases is established in the Civil Procedural Code of the Republic of Armenia and cannot be changed by agreement of the parties. This type of jurisdiction is mainly established for disputes related to real estate or other property. For example, claims of land ownership, buildings, constructions, the seizure of land, buildings, structures from illegal possession, the elimination of the ownership rights, violations, or recognizing another lawful owner unrelated to dispossession, is brought to the court at the location of said land, building, or structure.
Claims of creditors are also brought to the court at the location of the inherited property, or where most are located. Claims related to the requirement for removal of encumbrances to the property served in the court at the location of the property.
Referral to another court
When filing a claim with the Republic of Armenia courts, cases when the applicant violates the rules of jurisdiction are quite common. For this reason, the first court may refer the case to another court, should it turn out that the claim accepted in the first court is in violation of the rules or other circumstances which render the first court’s examination of the case impossible. At the same time when transferring the case over to another court, an official decision on transfer must be adopted. The receiving court shall consider the case on its merits and make a decision.