EU Project "Pravo-Justice" initiated a discussion on simplifying civil and commercial proceedings in Ukraine
On May 24, there was held expert discussion "Improvement of writ and summary court proceedings under the Civil and Commercial Procedural Codes: is it possible to simplify what has already been simplified?". National and international experts from EU Project "Pravo-Justice", judges, representatives of the EBRD, the Ministry of Justice, the Parliament, Regional Justice Reform Councils (RJRCs) and other participants discussed how to make Ukrainian civil and commercial justice more efficient.
“One of our key goals is to help make justice more efficient. Based on European practices, we have high hopes for the full-fledged usage of a payment order as well as a reasonable limitation of workload of the courts of appeal. In addition, it is important to give judges more leverage to manage the process and transfer certain powers to court staff,” emphasized Dovydas Vitkauskas, EU Project "Pravo-Justice" Team Leader.
According to Andrii Kostin, Member of Parliament of Ukraine, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Policy, about 4 million court cases are heard in Ukraine every year, so simplifying consideration of non-complex cases is extremely important.
"As a dedicated committee, we are always open to new ideas that can improve and refine litigation," said Andrii Kostin.
Oleksandr Banchuk, Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine, expressed hope that improving writ and summary proceedings would help reduce the length of trials: "The more typical minor cases are heard in summary and writ proceedings, the more time and resources judges will have to deal with complex cases."
Bert Maan, international expert of EU Project "Pravo-Justice" stressed the importance of fulfilling minor financial obligations: “We do a lot of online shopping, we use cell phones, we pay for medical and other types of insurance, rent, etc. Such claims are relatively small, but together they make up quite significant amounts. Undoubtedly, these funds must be paid, otherwise, companies will not be able to continue to exist. Therefore, for the sake of the economic well-being of the country, there should be mechanisms that would allow implementing these procedures quickly and efficiently."
In turn, Semen Kravtsov, national expert EU Project "Pravo-Justice", presented draft report on the peculiarities of "minor cases" in civil and commercial proceedings in the courts of first and appellate instances in Ukraine prepared under Bert Maan's guidance.
Among other things, the expert stressed the importance of wider use of payment order: “Creditors should start with the payment order. Should there be an appeal, there should be two additional options depending on the amount of the dispute: a summary procedure which is immediately transformed into a dispute, and a general procedure."
The importance of writ proceedings for business was confirmed by Anna Savchenko, Senior Legal Adviser of Litigation Department of Kyivstar PJSC: "Writ proceedings give us more opportunities and really simplify the procedures of going to court and the deadlines that are so much important in debt collection."
Judge of the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court Olena Kibenko drew attention to the need to digitalize the judiciary: “It is very important that we have online courts without court hearings. [...] Especially for commercial jurisdiction, where the relations are mostly recorded in the documents. That is, there is no need to hold a court hearing in current framework, especially given the opportunities for digitalization and because of pandemic restrictions."
The topic of e-court in Ukraine is rapidly developing. EBRD Senior Adviser Veronica Bradeucanu presented the concept of a pilot project to assist Ukraine in setting up online courts for small claims.
Regarding appeals in small cases, Roman Chumak, lawyer and Kharkiv RJRC coordinator, said: “It is necessary to make challenging judgments to courts of appeals more expensive. Then the debtor will not use appeal mechanism to play around with the system and not pay debts.
In conclusion, Oksana Tsymbrivska, Key National Expert of EU Project "Pravo-Justice" stressed that the Project will continue expert discussions on this topic. The presented draft report after adjustment based on consultations with the representatives of the Regional Justice Reform Councils and the legal community will be refined and finalized by the Project experts.
Regional Justice Reform Councils (RJRCs) have been established with support of EU Project "Pravo-Justice" and function in Chernivtsi, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Lviv, Odesa regions and Donbas. To date, Councils members have been actively participating in drafting a bill on mediation, amendments to the Bankruptcy Code, proposals to improve legislation on enforcement proceedings, introducing e-court and discussing the concept of transitional justice.
RJRCs act as permanent working groups to promote bottom-up reforms: bringing region-specific challenges and potential solutions thereof to the level of central government.