Human Rights Center Continues Court Dispute against the Tbilisi City Hall and GWP in the Supreme Court of Georgia

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The Executive Director of Human Rights Center appealed the judgment of the Tbilisi Appellate Court in the Supreme Court of Georgia. The Appellate Court did not grant his suit against the Tbilisi City Hall and the water distribution company GWP. 

Since 2017, HRC Executive Director Aleko Tskitishvili has had administrative dispute in the court, where he requested to order the Tbilisi City Hall to place warning banners forbidding the swimming near the most dangerous site on the Tbilisi Sea, so-called waterfall, and to erect a firm fence around the area, where several adolescents, among them his son Tsotne Tskitishvili, drowned before 2017. 

With legal advocacy of HRC, in 2017, Aleko Tskitishvili lodged administrative lawsuit against the Tbilisi City Hall and the water distribution company GWP in the Tbilisi City Court. After almost two years of hearings, based on the ruling of Judge Natia Buskadze, the Tbilisi City Hall was ordered to install warning banners in the waterfall area and to erect a wall of 2.5 m height along the line of waterfall channel which would be impossible to overmount.

The Court did not satisfy the claim of the family to get reimbursement for the moral harm from the Tbilisi City Hall in the amount of 50 000 GEL. Therefore, this part of the court ruling was appealed in the Tbilisi Appellate Court. On its turn, the Tbilisi City Hall also appealed the judgment of the Tbilisi City Court in the Appellate Court and refused to enforce the judgment claiming that the City Hall is not responsible for the prevention of similar tragedies in the city. 

During the dragged-out proceedings in the Court of Appeals, representative of one of the respondent party - the GWP - stated that the area was fenced and firm fence of concrete and iron around the area was erected by them “at the request” of Tbilisi City Hall. Following the request of the plaintiff, GWP presented relevant documents to the court. It made clear that the Tbilisi City Hall had really sent the abovementioned request to the GWP and it proved that the respondent practically satisfied the claim which was already ruled so by the first instance court. With this, the Tbilisi City Hall avoided responsibility and did not implement the court ruling that had precedential power and could affect all similar future disputes against the Tbilisi City Hall. 

On October 27, 2022, the Chamber of Administrative Cases at the Tbilisi Appellate Court with presiding judge Leila Mamulashvili rejected the appeal of HRC Executive Director Aleko Tskitishvili, where he claimed the reimbursement of the moral damage from the Tbilisi City Hall and the water distribution company GWP. At the same time, the Appellate Court annulled another part of the judgment of Administrative Panel of the Tbilisi City Court, in which it instructed the Tbilisi City Hall to install warning banners and to erect fence along the dangerous site. According to the Chamber, since the GWP had already fenced the area and installed warning banners, the subject matter of the dispute no longer existed against the respondent Tbilisi City Hall. As for the reimbursement of the moral damage, the Appellate Court clarified that there are no connection between the absence of safety measures in the area and the tragedy. 

Human Rights Center believes that with the October 27, 2022 judgment the Tbilisi Appellate Court groundlessly annulled the decision of the Tbilisi City Court. 

With the cassation lawsuit of Human Rights Center, Aleko Tskitishvili requests the Supreme Court to annul the judgment of the Appellate Court. The cassation lawsuit states that the decision of the Chamber of Administrative Cases at the Tbilisi Appellate Court is ungrounded and shameful. If this judgment goes into force, it will cause multiple tragedies on water bodies. The Appellate Court neglected the Case Law of the European Court of Human Rights and as a result the judgment completely ignored the requirements of the European Human Rights Law. 

The cassation lawsuit was prepared in the frame of the project Campaign “Swim Safe – Prevention of Tragedies on Water Bodies.” The Project and the campaign has been financially supported by the Open Society Georgia Foundation since 2018.