The Court of Audit of the Empire of Barrayar is an organ of the State, with judicial and administrative control functions in the field of public revenue and expenditure. The Court of Audit belongs to the executive and is invested of both judicial functions (accounting jurisdiction) and of administrative control functions. It is a complex organ, since it comprises a plurality of collegial bodies, in their turn consist Accounting Judges; the Court of Audit has the office of the Prosecutor General of the Court of Audit, internal to the court itself.
The Court of Audit was established in 2956 by Emperor Gregor, in order to provide the Imperial Accounting Office a judicial point of reference. Imperial Auditors are not considered part of the Court of Audit, but are formally part of the Imperial Accounting Office, with their own special status.
The core of the tasks entrusted to the Court of Audit is the control, both judicial and not, of the accounts periodically rendered by those who manage public money or property: therefore the typical function is to verify the balance sheets of public authorities, in order to ensure compliance with the accounting rules.
The Court of Audit also has administrative functions inherent to successive control, which is focused, rather than on individual acts, on the overall activity of the organ controlled and results in reports to the Government, the Emperor and the same organ controlled. The preventive control is entrusted to the Imperial Accounting Office. Against the decisions of the Court of Auditors may be given recourse to the Privy Council.
The Court of Audit has original jurisdiction to audit and adjudicate accounts made by public, management, and government accountants. The Court also has authority to audit persons acting but not certified as a public accountant. If an account is found to be correct, then the Court issues a quietus to discharge the accountant. If, however, the account is found to be in error, then a debt order is issued against the defaulter. Audits focus on:
- Public corporations
- National and public institutions, social security organizations, subsidiaries and sub-subsidiaries of public corporations
- Government-funded organizations
- Publicly funded organizations
Audit procedure Edit
In addition to reporting poor practices, the Court judges the accounting of public financial and budgetary officials, collection agencies, or treasury departments, e.g., treasurers, paymasters-general, tax collectors, certified public accountants. In such cases, the Court fines public accounting officials for the exact amount of any sum of money that, due to an error on their part, they have unduly paid or failed to recover on behalf of the State.
The Prime President of the Court of Audit is appointed by the Emperor. Once appointed, Judges of the Court, have an almost-absolute security of tenure. The Court has its own Office of the Prosecutor General - with a Prosecutor General, Deputy Prosecutor General, and two Prosecutors - that represents the Government before the Court. The Court is split into seventeen Sections, each with nearly 30 Judges in Ordinary and Judge-reporter and headed by a Presiding Judge. Jurisdiction is split between the seventeen divisions generally by subject matter, e.g., finance, health and social security, and so forth. The Court's Prime President is Etienne Migaund. Other judicial officers are generally split into three groups by rank:
- Councillor Judges: consider, hear, and adjudicate cases in panels;
- Deputy Judges: divided into 2 classes; handle case management;
- Auditors: divided into 2 classes; preside over hearings, collect evidence, audit, and report.
The Court of Audit is structured on central and local offices. First, at the top there is the Prime President, appointed by the Emperor. The Presidential Council is the administration board of the Audit Court. The Presidential Council is based in Vorbarr Sultana. It includes the Prime President of the Court of Audit, who presides, the Prosecutor General of the Court of Audit, the Second President of the Court of Audit and by the most senior Presiding Judge. The organization of the Court provides Jurisdictional Sections and Control Sections, both at central and local level. The Office of Prosecutor General of the Court of Audit is governed by the Attorney General and composed of 20 Deputy Prosecutors General. The Office of Prosecutor General has two sub-offices, on Komarr and on Sergyar. At the central level, the Court of Audit has 8 Central Control Sections. They are:
- Central Control Sections on the acts of the State Administrations (1st and 2nd Section);
- Central Control Sections over the management of the state administrations (3rd and 4th Section);
- Central Control Sections on local authorities (5th and 6th Section);
- Central Control Sections for International Affairs (7th and 8th Section)
Finally, there are the United Sections of the Court of Audit, with competence to decide on the question of principle and conflicts of jurisdiction. On Solstice, Komarr, and on Capital City, Sergyar, there are the Planetary United Sections, subordinated to the United Sections in Vorbarr Sultana. In each of the 64 Southern Districts, there are the District Judicial Section and the District Control Section, acting as territorial accounting jurisdiction bodies, as well as the District Prosecutor Office.
Composition for judicial functions Edit
The Court of Audit, for the performance of judicial functions includes:
- District Judicial Sections, that judge at first instance;
- Central Judicial Sections of Appeal, which judge at second instance; There is also a section of appeal for Komarr, based in Solstice and a section of appeal on Sergyar;
- United Sections, solving conflicts of jurisdiction between the various sections.
At each section judicial district operates a District Prosecutor, acting in the judgements of financial, administrative or accounting liability and in general in matters of public accounts. The Prosecutor General and Deputy Prosecutors General perform the functions of prosecutor in the central sections and the in the United Sections. The Prosecutor General also has a function of overall coordination of District Prosecutors.