Ultimate supervisory power rests with the minister of justice, who appoints the magistrates. Courts of first instance, of which there are fifty-six, are presided over by a single judge and deal with both civil and criminal cases; 17 of these courts are in Beirut. Appeals may be taken to eleven courts of appeal, each made up of three judges. Of the four courts of cassation, three hear civil cases and one hears criminal cases. A six-person Council of State handles administrative cases. A Constitutional Council, called for in the Taif Accord, rules on the constitutionality of laws upon the request of 10 members of parliament. Religious courts— Islamic, Christian, and Jewish—deal with marriages, deaths, inheritances, and other matters of personal status in their respective faiths. There is also a separate military court system dealing with cases involving military personnel and military related issues.
The law provides for the right to a fair public trial and an independent and impartial judiciary. In practice, politically influential elements succeed in intervening to obtain desired results.
Matters of state security are dealt with by a five-member Judicial Council. The Judicial Council is a permanent tribunal, and the cabinet, on the recommendation of the Ministry of Justice, decides whether to bring a case before the Judicial Council.
In the refugee camps, the Palestinian elements implement an autonomous system of justice in which rival factions try opponents without any semblance of due process. Hezbollah applies Islamic law in the area under its control.