Constitutional Council, Supreme Court, Court of Auditors, Courts and Tribunals
The Constitutional Council rules on the constitutionality of Assembly Rules of Procedure as well as national laws; and on the regulatory nature of legislative provisions, the constitutionality of organic laws, the admissibility of draft laws and amendments originating in a parliamentary motion, the constitutionality of international commitments, the unconstitutionality exceptions brought before the Council of State or the Court of Cassation and, more broadly speaking, on any conflict between the Council of State and the Court of Cassation and between executive and legislative powers.
The Constitutional Council receives candidacies for the Presidency of the Republic, draws up the list of candidates, adjudicates on disputes arising from the election of the President of the Republic and Members of the National Assembly, and declares the results of the votes.
The Constitutional Council hears the oath of the President of the Republic, as well as records his resignation, incapacitation or death, or the resignation, incapacitation or death of those replacing him under the aforementioned conditions.
In addition, the Constitutional Council exercises the powers under Articles 46 and 47 of the Constitution when the President of the Republic decides to put a draft law to referendum or pronounces the dissolution of the National Assembly.
Members of the Constitutional Council are chosen among former Chief Presidents of the Supreme Court, the President and former Presidents of the Council of State, the Chief President and former Chief Presidents of the Court of Cassation, former Prosecutors General of the Supreme Court, Prosecutor General and former Prosecutors General of the Court of Cassation, former Division Presidents of the Supreme Court, Division Presidents and former Division Presidents of the Council of State, Presidents and former Presidents of Chamber at the Court of Cassation, former Chief Advocates General of the Supreme Court, the Chief Advocate General and former Chief Advocates General of the Court of Cassation, Chief Presidents and former Chief Presidents of Courts of Appeal, and Prosecutors General and former Prosecutors General of Courts of Appeal.
Moreover, two out of the five Members of the Council may be chosen from current and former full Professors at Faculties of Law, State Inspectors General, and former State Inspectors General and Lawyers, providing they have at least 25 years of experience in the public service or have exercised their profession for at least 25 years.
The Senegalese Constitution of January 7, 2001, in Article 6 (amended by Constitutional Act No 2008-34 of August 7, 2008), stipulates that, among the institutions of the Republic, the Supreme Court, according to Article 88 of said Constitution, exercises judicial power in conjunction with the Constitutional Council, the Court of Auditors, and the Courts and Tribunals.
The Supreme Court has national, single and fixed jurisdiction, established in Dakar, and has been placed at the pinnacle of the judicial hierarchy by the legislature. Its organization and functioning, as well as procedures of its units are defined by Organic Law No 2008-35 of August 7, 2008.
The said organic law assigns to the Supreme Court an advisory function alongside its traditional judicial activity.
As part of its advisory work, the Supreme Court holds an annual Consultative General Assembly to communicate its views to:
• The President of the Republic whenever legislative or regulatory provisions require that it be consulted, and when it is consulted on issues relating to administrative matters.
• The Speakers of the National Assembly or the Senate on draft laws set before the Court.
• The Government on draft laws and decrees set before the Court for review .
As pertains to its judicial activity, in Senegal, the Supreme Court is the first and last instance judge in instances of misuse of power by the executive authorities, as well as in cases relevant to the legality of decisions taken by local authorities.
It is also the final instance in disputes arising from voter registration issues and elections for Regional, Municipal, and Rural Councils.
With respect to matters falling within the competence of other jurisdictions, the Supreme Court decides on applications for judicial review of judgments and rulings handed down on the grounds of incompetence, violation of law, or violation of custom, for all jurisdictions including arbitration boards of collective labour disputes. It also rules, in cassation, on appeals brought against decisions taken by the Court of Auditors, and final instance decisions of judicial administrative bodies.
Being of the last instance, the Supreme Court’s review is limited, unless otherwise specified by law, to examining the legality of rulings. This allows the Supreme Court to ensure uniformity in the interpretation of the law through single jurisprudence, which lies behind its decisions.
Guarantor of due administration of justice, the Supreme Court also decides on:
Applications for review;
Requests for transfer from one jurisdiction to another on grounds of bias or in cases pertaining to public safety;
Judges’ rulings between jurisdictions having no other higher jurisdiction in common than the Supreme Court;
Applications for damages against a Court of Appeal, an Assize Court, or an entire jurisdiction;
Conflicting final judgments or rulings concerning similar parties and cases between various jurisdictions.
Court of Auditors
Good governance and transparency in managing public affairs require effective control by an independent institution endowed with the appropriate means.
In Senegal, the role of supreme auditor of public finances was historically, and as early as 1960, granted to an establishment of the judiciary power.
In 1999, when creating the Court of Auditors as the supreme higher audit institution, the legislator confirmed not only its decision to give greater specialization to jurisdictions at the top of the judiciary system, but also of allowing Senegal to become the first country in the sub-region to implement one of the WAEMU directives on the obligation to set up an independent board of auditors.
The Court of Auditors thus derives extensive powers from the Constitution, and exercises these through specific organizational principles, procedures, and resources set forth in the Organic Law No. 2012-23 of December 27, 2012 regarding the Court of Auditors.
Its core competence is to exercise judicial control over the accounts of public accountants, to monitor the enforcement of finance laws, to oversee the para-public sector, and to sanction errors in management.
Thus, its mission may be summarised as follows:
Monitoring accounts of public accountants and management de facto (judicial control);
Assisting the Parliament and Government in controlling finance laws;
Screening management of public bodies and other entities subject to the control of the Court (non-judicial control or management control);
Sanctioning management errors.
The Court has its own audit procedures, which it supplements by implementing international auditing techniques and standards.
As an autonomous institution, the Court of Auditors may directly publish the results of its investigations through its annual general public report.
Courts and Tribunals
Senegal has two types of jurisdictions: ordinary jurisdictions, applying common law, and exceptional or special jurisdictions.
Ordinary jurisdictions are made up of the District Court, the Regional Court, the Court of Appeal, and the Assize Court.
Exceptional jurisdictions do not have comprehensively defined jurisdiction, but are only competent for matters exhaustively laid down by law. In Senegal, they are the Labour Court, the Court for Suppression of Illicit Enrichment, the High Court of Justice, and the Extraordinary African Chambers.