Ukrainian law

Legal news in Ukraine: decision of Constitutional Court of Ukraine on judicial reform, formation of High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine is under threat, how coronavirus affects Ukrainian justice, privileges for attorneys’ fees are establish

14.03.2020 / 09:30
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Legal news in Ukraine: decision of Constitutional Court of Ukraine on judicial reform, formation of High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine is under threat, how coronavirus affects Ukrainian justice, privileges for attorneys’ fees are establish

The Constitutional Court declared the president’s reform of justice partly unconstitutional

On March 11, 2020, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine ruled in the case on the constitutional submission of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Laws of Ukraine «On Judicial System and Status of Judges» of June 2, 2016 No. 1402 – VIII.

The provisions of the Law «On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine «On Judicial and Status of Judges» and some Laws of Ukraine on the Activity of Judicial Governments» of October 16, 2019 No. 193 – IX, and the Law «On the High Council of Justice» of December 21, 2016 No. 1798 – VIII were also examined.

The Constitutional Court recognized, in particular, the norms on reducing the composition of the Supreme Court from 200 to 100 judges and reducing the salaries of judges of the Supreme Court from 75 to 55 living wages (from 145 000 to 106 000 UAH), as unconstitutional.

The norm on the establishment of the Commission on Integrity and Ethics by the High Council of Justice of the Commission was also recognized as unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court also considers it unlawful for the High Council of Justice to establish the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine, which consists of twelve members and which is elected by the results of the competition for a term of four years.

The Constitutional Court recommended that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine immediately harmonize the provisions of the legislation of Ukraine in accordance with this decision.

The formation of a new composition of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine is under threat

On March 10, 2020 the term of formation of the committee for selection of members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine has ended.

The High Council of Justice, which should approve the composition of this commission, has already twice postponed the date of its creation.

The High Council of Justice recalls that on November 7, 2019, Law of Ukraine No. 193-IX «On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine «On Judiciary and Status of Judges» and some Laws of Ukraine on the Activity of Judicial Governments» came into force. From that moment the powers of the entire composition of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine were terminated, as was the existence of this body of judicial administration as a whole.

Under the new law, the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine includes 12 members appointed by the High Council of Justice on the basis of the competition. To do this, the High Council of Justice must approve the regulations on the competition and the staff of the competition committee.

«Meanwhile, without a valid Commission, which is responsible for the selection of candidates for judicial positions and the qualifications of judges, it is impossible to fill vacancies in courts, the number of which is already about two thousand. Due to the lack of judges, cases in the courts have been waiting for a decision for years. This actually deprives Ukrainian citizens of access to justice», the High Council of Justice notes.

It should be noted that Ukrainian and international experts have criticized the law and the new procedure for forming the Commission.

The High Council of Justice believes that the only way to resolve the situation is to amend the law, taking into account all the observations.

How coronavirus affects justice in Ukraine

The coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 touched Ukrainian justice as well - the Council of Judges of Ukraine asked citizens to refrain from participating in court hearings if the hearings do not provide for the mandatory presence of participants in the parties.

Ukrainians are also asked not to visit the courts if they have signs of any viral disease.

However, the holding of the 18th regular Congress of Judges of Ukraine, scheduled for April 6-7, 2020, is not postponed.

At the same time, the Ukrainian National Bar Association postponed six events, including the National Bankruptcy Forum and roundtables.

In addition, the free legal aid system restricts legal education activities. But free legal aid will intensely inform citizens about their rights through the official website and pages on social networks, the media, and information resources of partner organizations.

Let’s note that due to the coronavirus outbreak, a quarantine and a ban on mass events were introduced in Ukraine until April 3.

The procedure for providing benefits for the payment of attorney fees has been established

The Council of Advocates of Ukraine has determined the categories of attorneys who are exempted from paying an annual fee to ensure the implementation of advocate self-government.

So, dismissal, reduction or deferment of payment of the annual fee fall into the following categories of lawyers:

persons with disabilities of groups 1 and 2;

persons with disabilities due to war, participants in the war, participants in hostilities, war veterans;

persons, who took part in hostilities in the territories of other countries, ­– participants in hostilities, invalids of war and participants in war;

persons, who have received the status of a participant of combat in accordance with the Law of Ukraine «On the status of war veterans, guarantees of their social protection»;

persons, who participated in the liquidation of the consequences of Chornobyl accident, I and II categories;

persons, who have been forced to leave their place of residence, in connection with an anti-terrorist operation;

persons mobilized for military service, if such contribution has not been previously paid.

The decision to release, reduce or delay the payment of the annual fee shall be made on the basis of appropriate documents.

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