With the acceptance of the primacy of Islamic law, the dual religious-secular
court structure was no longer necessary. In November 1973, the
religious judicial system of qadi courts was abolished. The secular
court system was retained to administer justice, but its jurisdiction
now included religious matters. Secular jurisprudence had to conform
to sharia, which remained the basis for religious jurisprudence.
In 1987 the court system had four levels: summary courts (sometimes
referred to as partial courts), courts of first instance, appeals
courts, and the Supreme Court .
Summary courts were located in most small towns. Each consisted
of a single judge who heard cases involving misdemeanors. Misdemeanors
were disputes involving amounts up to Libyan dinar (LD) 100 (for
value of the Libyan dinar--see Glossary). Most decisions were
final, but in cases where the dispute involved more than LD20
the decision could be appealed.
The primary court was the court of first instance. One court
of first instance was located in each area that formerly had constituted
a governorate before the governorates as such were abolished in
1975. Courts of first instance heard appeals from summary courts
and had original jurisdiction over all matters in which amounts
of more than LD100 were involved. A panel of three judges, ruling
by majority decision, heard civil, criminal, and commercial cases
and applied sharia to personal or religious matters that were
formerly handled by the qadi courts.
The three courts of appeals sat at Tripoli, Benghazi, and Sabha.
A three-judge panel, again ruling by majority decision, served
in each court and heard appeals from the courts of first instance.
Original jurisdiction applied to cases involving felonies and
high crimes. Sharia judges who formerly sat in the Sharia Court
of Appeals were assigned to the regular courts of appeals and
continue to specialize in sharia appellate cases.
The Supreme Court was located in Tripoli and comprised five chambers:
civil and commercial, criminal, administrative, constitutional,
and sharia. A five-judge panel sat in each chamber, the majority
establishing the decision. The court was the final appellate body
for cases emanating from lower courts. It could also interpret
constitutional matters. However, it no longer had cassation or
annulment power over the decisions of the lower courts, as it
did before the 1969 revolution. Because there was a large pool
of Supreme Court justices from which the panel was drawn at a
given time, the total number of justices was unfixed. All justices
and the president (also seen as chairman) of the court were appointed
by the GPC; most likely the General Secretariat made the actual
selections. Before its abolition, the RCC made Supreme Court appointments.
Data as of 1987