Judicial Review

An American accustomed to judicial review may wonder whether court rulings in R ussia are sources of law as they obviously and dominantly are in the United Sta tes. It is noteworthy that, unlike countries of common law traditions, in Russi a the judgments of courts in concrete cases do not set precedents. In other wor ds, the Russian legal system is not based on judge-made law.

A Russian cour t of general jurisdiction cannot nullify a statute holding it unconstitutional; in other words, the judiciary in Russia in general has no functions of judicia l review, with one exception--in 1991 the Constitutional Court of Russia was es tablished. The Constitutional Court is vested with the power of constitutional review, i.e., it can, upon motion of an interested governmental organization, h old a statute or an executive enactment unconstitutional, or give its interpret ation of the Constitution. It is also the rule that whenever an issue of consti tutionality of an act involved in a case is raised during proceedings before a regular court, such an issue is automatically referred to the Constitutional Co urt.

The Supreme Court of Russia does not have the right of judicial review but has the right of legislative initiative and may submit its conclusions conceding th e interpretation of laws. The highly authoritative view of the Supreme Court is always taken into consideration by lawmakers.

Apart from this, the Supreme Court issues guiding instructions for lower courts on specific matters of law based on the analysis of the administration of just ice in a particular field of law. Such guiding instructions have a binding effe ct upon all courts as well as upon those state agencies and officials who use t he law in their work. The guiding instructions of the Supreme Court for all pra ctical purposes can thus be treated as a source of law in Russia.

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