a) Armenia / b) Constitutional Court / c) / d) 18-04-2014 / e) / f) On the conformity with the Constitution of the provisions of Law on Advocacy / g) Tegekagir (Official Gazette) / h) .
Keywords of the Systematic Thesaurus:
General Principles - Rule of law.
Fundamental Rights - Economic, social and cultural rights - Right to education.
Fundamental Rights - Economic, social and cultural rights - Right to work.
Fundamental Rights - Economic, social and cultural rights - Freedom to choose one's profession.
Keywords of the alphabetical index:
Within the rule of law, regulations set forth in the law shall specify a person’s legitimate expectations. The right to legitimate expectations is one of the integral elements of the guarantee of the rule of law. This fundamental idea is the basis of legal regulations and law-enforcement practice.
I. The applicant challenged a provision in the Law on Advocacy. The disputed provision stipulates that in order to attend the Advocate School, an individual must possess a Bachelor’s Degree in Law or a qualification degree of certified specialist. To the applicant, the provision allows for discrimination, as it does not clarify whether a person who earned a Master’s Degree in Law would satisfy the meaning of a certified specialist, such that he would qualify to become an advocate. The said provision, however, limits the performance of such right. The applicant also stated that the provision violated his legitimate expectations, as he obtained his Master’s Degree in Law before the adoption of the disputed provisions.
II. After reviewing the case, the Constitutional Court noted that the legislature defined common educational criterion for candidates, including judge, attorney, investigator, advocate and notary. That criterion is the obtention of a Bachelor’s Degree in Law or the obtention of degree of the qualification of higher legal education of certified specialist. The Court stated that this requirement is not an aim per se, as the analysis of the respective legislation shows that within any university specialisation, a master’s degree is considered to be a system of deepening of that specialisation.
Simultaneously, the Court noted that the educational system in Armenia allows an individual holding a bachelor’s degree in other specialisation or certified specialist of other specialisation to enter a master’s degree programme related to another specialisation. In this regard, the Court stated that the credit system introduced as a result of the process requires certain credits to obtain the corresponding professional qualification within the educational system. Consequently, the qualification of a master’s degree shall be considered to be a higher educational degree within that certain specialisation only when the credits required for that specialisation are cumulated. The Court underscored that only in this case, the person could be considered to be a holder of a second degree, i.e. master’s degree of that specialisation within the corresponding educational programme.
The Court noted that the mentioned issue is not definitely stipulated by Armenian legislation, which includes a high risk of human rights violations. The respective legislations do not specify the approach towards the legal content of different degrees of education, continuation of education, credits cumulative system and towards the common criteria in the respective field. As a result, the person does not possess a right to work in certain professions, as well as a right to obtain further professional education even after receiving an education at the state educational institutions.
The Court considered the consequences due to the lack of clarity. On the one hand, the person passes the exams, enrols in a master’s degree programme, and obtains a state diploma, but later finds out that he cannot work in that profession due to the limitations defined in various legal acts. On the other hand, he can get a master’s degree in another specialisation in one or two years and earn a state diploma without cumulating the necessary credits.
After considering the case, the Constitutional Court stated that the applicant’s right to legitimate expectation was breached and that the challenged provision blocks an individual’s right to qualify to enrol in the Advocate School due to concerns about the appropriate qualification of certain higher degrees. The Court declared it unconstitutional and void.