Lebanon News

Unconstitutional public notary bill abolished

File - Head of the Constitutional Council Issam Sleiman speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Wednesday, May 8, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: The Constitutional Council Tuesday abolished a controversial law appointing Justice Ministry employees as public notaries, putting an end to the short life of a bill deemed unconstitutional by many.

“Practically, the council has struck down the entire law,” Judge Issam Sleiman, head of the Constitutional Council, said. “Parliament cannot pass the same law again.”

The council’s decision abolished Articles 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the law for “violating the Constitution.”

Endorsed by the legislature in April, the law allowed 45 Justice Ministry employees, who have been working as acting-public notaries, to temporarily replace full-timers on holiday or unable to work, to become full-fledged public notaries so long as they passed a special exam.

Many existing public notaries argued the law violated employment equality requirements, as it ignored the normal requirements for becoming a public notary: being between the ages of 25 and 44 and passing the standard Justice Ministry examination, as well as holding a law degree.

The bill created a new, altered exam especially for the 45 employees, as some of the candidates had already taken the normal exam and failed it. Others would not normally qualify as they are older than 44.

The law was challenged by 11 MPs from the Change and Reform bloc, the Development and Liberation bloc and the Lebanese Forces bloc.

Also Tuesday, the council rejected a challenge filed by a number of MPs to a law making Civil Defense contract workers and volunteers full-timers after they passed certain tests.

The MPs called for amending the law so it would apply to Civil Defense workers who retired before the bill was passed.

“The Constitutional Council looks into the constitutionality of the law and cannot amend a law,” Sleiman said. “Parliament can only amend a law.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 04, 2014, on page 4.




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