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Judicial Control

Chapter II
JUDICIAL CONTROL

Article 55:
There are two types of judicial control: the control of accounts and the control of officers.


Paragraph A: Control over the Accounts

Article 56:
The purpose of this control is to rule on the legality of accounts of public accountants and of any individual who interferes, without having legal authority, with receiving or disbursing public or Treasury funds.
  (Paragraph added by Act No. 393 of 1995)
Taking into consideration its final decisions regarding the accounts of the preceding years, the Audit Court shall exercise its control over the accounts starting from fiscal year 1991
 
Article 57:
The control of accounts deals with the following:
a: For revenues:
1- The legality of documents used to collect public revenues.
2- The legality of collection operations and their conformity to collection laws.
3- The transfer of collected funds to the Treasury coffers.

b: For expenditures
1- the legality of documents used to make payments; and the conformity of the transaction to existing laws and regulations, to the Budget Act, and to the Budget appropriations
2- The existence of documentary evidence required by law.

c: For Treasury receipts and payments:
The legality of receipt and payment transactions, and their conformity to the orders given by the competent authority.

d: For items
The legality of the operations of receipt storage, and delivery of items; and the legality of inventory lists.

e: For accounts
1- The legality of accounts and their conformity to established laws and regulations.
2- The conformity of entries to submitted documentary evidence.

Article 58:
The Audit Court, audits and settles the accounts, and rules on them through provisional and final decisions.
The provisional decision determines the defects in the account and the obligations to be met by the accountant in response to these defects.

The final decisions hold the accountant quit, creditor, or debtor. In the first two cases, if the accountant has left his position, the court orders the authorities to clear his properties and his own funds from any restriction which may have been imposed on them, and to return to him the bond he has posted. In the third case, the Court enters a judgment against the accountant to pay the due sum within a specified period. If the debt is the result of force majeure circumstances, the Court may exempt the accountant from payment.

The concerned administration must submit the account to the Court within three months from the date of death.
In any case, if the Court does not issue a decision regarding the account within six months from the date of its submission, the estate of the accountant can be transferred to his successors, unless there is another legal impediment.
 
Paragraph B: Control of Offices

Article 59:
The control of officers includes any individual managing or using public funds or Treasury funds, and all those who receive or effect payments on behalf of the Treasury or for the benefit of the Treasury, as well as those who keep its books. The control includes also any individual who, with no legal authority, interferes with the management of the above-mentioned funds or with effecting the above-mentioned transactions. It finally includes all those interfering with any of the above-mentioned operations in preparing, controlling, or approving them.

Is considered an officer, for the purposes of this control, any person who is entrusted with performing the operations mentioned in paragraph 1 of this Article, whether by appointment, election, or contract. This includes the members of the decision-making boards while they perform the said operations, and any individual with no legal authority who performed, interfered with, or contributed to the performance of these operations.

Article 60:
Any officer who committed or participated in any of the offences mentioned below is liable to pay a fine from one hundred fifty thousand to one million five hundred thousand Lebanese pounds. This does not preclude civil obligations, and criminal and disciplinary penalties decided by the competent authorities:
1- The commitment of an expenditure in violation of the law.
2- The commitment of an expenditure without obtaining the approval of the controller of spending commitments.
3- The failure of submit a transaction to the prior control of the Audit Court; or the execution of a transaction without abiding by the conditions decided by the court.
4- The non-compliance with the disapproval of the Audit Court, or that of the controller of spending commitments.
5- The improper entry of an expenditure for the purpose of covering a transaction exceeding a budget appropriation.
6- The execution of an illegal order received from a person other than his immediate supervisor.
7- The illicit enrichment of a person transacting with the administration, or the attempt of such an enrichment.
8- The commitment of an error or a negligence, which may result in damage to the public funds or the Treasury funds.
9- The failure to submit the requested accounts, documents, or clarifications to the Audit Court, or to the Public Prosecutor's Office at the Court within the time limits specified by existing laws and regulation.
10- The violations of the provisions governing to the management or use of public funds or of Treasury funds.
 
Article 61:
If it is found that the violations mentioned in Article 60 of the present decree-law have resulted in damage or loss to public or Treasury funds, the Court may, in addition to the fine stipulated by Article 60, punish the offender, with a fine calculated in proportion to the seriousness of the violation and to the gross salary of the officer if he receives a salary, or to the pay or fees he receives if he does not receive a salary.

The additional fine shall not be less than the monthly salary or the monthly benefits of the officer, or their equivalent, at the time of the violation. It may not exceed his annual salary or annual benefits, or their equivalent, at the said time. If the work of the officer is not remunerated the fine shall be between one thousand and then thousand Lebanese Pounds.

The officer on trial before the Audit Court may hire an attorney-at-law.

Article 62:
1- The Court evaluates the causes of the violation and the extent of the officer's liability. The culprit shall be fined under the provisions of Articles 60 and 61 of the present decree-law.
2- The officer receives no punishment if the transaction is cancelled before it is put into effect, or if its is found that he committed the violation according to a written order from his immediate supervisor, provided that he had drawn the attention of the latter in writing to the violation which may result from the execution of the order. In this case, the supervisor shall be held responsible and punished in accordance with Articles 60 and 61 of the present decree-law.

An officer who reports directly to the Minister shall not be exonerated, unless he had notified, within a week, the Audit Court and the public prosecutor at the Court of the memorandum he submitted to the minister before carrying out the order, and in which he had pointed out the violation resulting from the execution of the order.

3- The Court may exempt the officer from punishment if it finds that is was impossible for him to be cognizant of the violation at the time it was committed, or that he committed the violation in order to ensure the proper functioning of public services, or to avoid a harm which undoubtedly would have affected these services.
4- The Court may fine the officer and, at the same time, suspend the fine if it ascertains the good faith of the convicted officer, who may not benefit from more than one suspension in the same fiscal year in which the violation was committed.

Article 63:
The fines decided by the Court may not be cumulated except within the maximum limits stipulated by Articles 60 and 61 of the present decree-law.

The fines stipulated by Articles 60 and 61 may not be modified by administrative decision.
Article 64:
The court must inform the Chamber of Deputies of any violation committed by a minister.

Article 65:
1- The dismissal of the officer does not preclude his prosecution before the Audit Court.
2- Charges are dropped and extinct through the death of the responsible officer or by the lapse of time.
3- The lapse of time for a violation shall be five years from the date it is committed if this date is known or, if unknown, from the date it is discovered.
The lapse of time period is counted from one day to an identical day; it may be interrupted only for one of the following reasons:
a- A request submitted to the Audit Court to examine the violation in accordance with the present decree-law.
b- The starting of procedures to investigate the violation, in accordance with the present decree-law.
c- An interlocutory decree issued by the Audit Court on the violation.

Paragraph C: Procedure


Article 66:
The Court exercises its judicial jurisdiction as a regular Court composed of one President and two judges.

The provisions of he Code of Civil Procedure shall apply to the withdrawal and refusal of judges.

Article 67:
If the panel of the Court cannot be formed, it shall be completed by judges from the State Council, commissioned by the Prime Minister upon proposal by the President of Audit Court and with the consent of the President of the State Council.

Article 68:
1- The Court shall examine the violation either automatically or at the request of the public prosecutor at the Court.

For this purpose, the public prosecutor may start an investigation on the matter or extend the investigation already in process. He may hear the employees and witnesses; request the concerned agency to release the needed information, documents, and clarifications. He may order a controller to perform an on-site investigation provided that such an order be notified to the immediate supervisor of the violating officer before the start of the investigation.

The provisions of Article 80 of the present decree-law shall apply to officers and witnesses, and the provisions of paragraph 2 of this Article shall apply to the request of information, documents and clarifications.

If the infraction is examined automatically by the Court, the same procedure shall be followed, and the competent judge shall act as the public prosecutor in this respect.

2- The President of the Chamber assigns the case to the competent judge, who either examines it himself or refers it to a controller to assist him in the examination.

The judge may request the concerned public agency to release the written information and clarifications he needs, interrogate the suspected employee, hear the witnesses, and propose the appointment of experts. He may also give a written order to the controller to perform any relevant on-site investigation, provided such an order is notified to the Head of the said agency before the start of the investigation.

The concerned agency must respond to the request within a time limit of no less than ten days. The deadline may be extended whenever necessary either automatically or at the request of the concerned agency.
The Audit Court may examine any file or document related to the case being examined, including secret files or documents.

Article 69:
The competent judge prepares a report on the results of the investigation, including a summary of the case and his opinion.

Article 70:
Reports of the competent judges regarding the request of reconsideration, the determination of jurisdiction, the declaration of the account as being in balance or in debit, or the imposition of fines are referred, with documentary evidence, to the public prosecutor at the Court.
All other reports are referred to him upon his request or if the President of the concerned agency so decides.
The public prosecutor shall return these reports, together with this written opinion, within a time limit of ten days.

Article 71:
The interlocutory decree shall be notified to the accountant or the employee through the bailiffs in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code, or by registered mail with acknowledgement of receipt, or by administrative means. A copy of the decree is sent to his immediate supervisor.

The concerned party must submit his defense within the time limit specified in the judgment, provided it is no less than 30 days. If no response is submitted by the deadline, the Court shall examine the case.
The concerned party may look into the file and hire an attorney.

Article 72:
The case is examined in the deliberation room, based on exhibited documents. Decisions are taken by a majority of votes.

Article 73:
The concerned party is notified of the final decision in accordance with the provisions of Article 71 of the present decree-law.
The public prosecutor and the concerned ministry or administration are notified with a copy of the decision; a copy is also sent to the Ministry of Finance for enforcement of the decision, in accordance with the direct tax collection law.

Article 74:
A compulsory lien is placed on the real estate of the convicted party.
The legal interest on the liability decided upon shall start from the date specified in the decision.

Article 75:
In all cases, the Audit Court may recommend to the concerned minister to take legal action against the officer in a criminal or administrative court, provided a copy of the recommendation is notified to the Central Inspection Administration.


Paragraph D: Ways of Appeal
 

Article 76:
The final judicial decisions of the Court may be appealed either by an application to reopen the proceedings or by an appeal to the Court of Cassation.

Article 77:
1- a decision may be reconsidered by the Audit Court:

a- In case the examination of another formality reveals an error, omission, forgery, or recurrent entry.
b- In case new documents or facts are discovered, with a bearing on the decision.
2- The reconsideration of the decision takes place at the request of the public prosecutor, the Minister of Finance representing the Treasury, the accountant, the concerned officer, or the concerned administration or agency.
3- The request of reconsideration is submitted by the accountant or the concerned officer within two months from the discovery or the emergence of a new, justifying fact. The acceptance of the request shall depend on the posting of a bond in the amount of ten thousand Lebanese Pounds, paid in exchange for a Treasury receipt. This bond is appropriated by the Treasury as a revenue if the request for reconsideration is rejected, whether in the form or on the merits of the case. It is restituted to the accountant or officer in other cases.
4- The reconsideration request does not prevent the execution of the contested decision, but the Court may grant a stay of execution, at the request of the accountant or of the concerned officer, if it finds that the execution may cause a great damage and that the request is based on serious reasons.
5- The reconsideration process is carried out by the panel which issued the contested decision.

Article 78:
Within two months from the date of the decision's notification, an appeal may be filed with the State Council for lack of jurisdiction, violation of procedural rules, or violation of the law.

The appeal may be filed by the public prosecutor at the Audit Court of the Minister of Finance for the interest of the Treasury, or by the concerned officer, administration or agency.

Article 79:
In case of reversal of its decision, the Audit Court shall comply with the State Council's decision.