Judicial Foundation and Legal Codification
The legal system in Mauritania is based on Civil Law. The constitution and the constitutional charter are considered the highest laws, followed in rank by laws promulgated by the legislature, then by organizational decrees issued by the executive authority. Islamic Law (Shari'a) is one source of legislation.
Judicial Structure and Court System
Mauritania's judicial system adopts a multi-layer or gradual court system that consists of courts of first instance, courts of appeal and a supreme court (cassation court). Each court is made of several chambers each of which specializes in one kind of disputes. First instance courts consist of a single judge; while every chamber of appeal courts and of the Supreme Court consists of 3 judges (a presiding judge and two judges who act in advisory capacity).
Judicial Authority and Appointment of Judges
The Military Council for Justice and Democracy issued legal order No. 12/2006 dated July 12, 2006 that re-affirmed the principle of independence of the judiciary; called for reviewing the system of assessing judges and promoting them; introduced a code of ethics; and restricted membership of the Higher Judicial Council, currently headed by the President of the Supreme Court, to judges in disciplinary cases. A comprehensive program for training judicial employees was implemented. The program focused on priority topics, such as occupational ethics, protecting liberties, expeditionary courts and fair trials.
The Supreme Court is the highest judicial body that oversees all other courts. Public law suits are pursued by public prosecutors who carry out their work under the supervision of the attorney general at the Supreme Court. Public prosecutors are assisted by the judicial police.
An arbitration code was issued in 2000, however, it has not yet been put into effect because the procedures of accrediting arbitrators are still unfinished.
Judicial Education and Profession
Mauritania's national lawyers bar is recognized by courts and its members are able to plead before courts and to represent disputing parties in all aspects.