Level of Jurisdiction
Level of Jurisdiction
(Russian, instantsiia), a level, or link, in a system of coordinated agencies (state, party). In a system of judicial bodies, it is the court that examines a case at a certain stage of the proceedings. The concept of level of jurisdiction is also used to designate identical links in the judicial system, that is, courts with the same functions and powers in examining cases.
In the USSR the Basic Principles of Legislation on Judicial Organization of the USSR and the Union Republics distinguishes between the examination in court of cases of original jurisdiction, cassationary jurisdiction, and supervisory jurisdiction. The legislation provides that a court of original jurisdiction has the authority to render a judgment or decision; the court of cassation (court of appellate jurisdiction) reviews cases based on complaints or protests of judgments and decisions which have not entered into legal force; the court of supervisory jurisdiction reviews cases based on complaints and protests of judgments and decisions that have entered into legal force. The judicial consideration of cases in the USSR is basically carried out on two levels of jurisdiction (supervisory jurisdiction is exceptional).
District courts, municipal people’s courts, and the tribunals of large military units and garrisons function only as courts of original jurisdiction. The courts above these function as courts of original jurisdiction in cases that are subject to their jurisdiction and as courts of appellate or supervisory jurisdiction in cases that have been considered in lower courts. If the Supreme Court of the USSR or a supreme court of a Union republic considers cases under original jurisdiction, no cassational appeal is possible because they are at the apex of the judicial system (of the USSR and of the republics).
The jurisdictional arrangement for the review of criminal and civil cases, in which higher courts verify that the actions and decisions of lower courts conform to the principle of legality and are based on the law, is an important guarantee of the completeness, thoroughness, and impartiality of the judicial procedure, as well as of the protection of the rights and legal interests of the participants in the process and of the timely exposure and elimination of judicial errors.