Unified Judicial Practice in Land Disputes and Integrated State Registers – in the focus of Lviv RJRC’s Round Table
On November 19, a round table discussion entitled “Land Market: Judicial Practice and State Registration Issues was organized by the Lviv Regional Justice Reform Council (RJRC), the EU Project Pravo-Justice together with the Western Economic Court of Appeal.
The discussion was attended by the experts of the EU Project Pravo-Justice, judges of the Supreme Court, judges of the Western Economic Court of Appeal, the Economic Court of Lviv region, representatives of the Notary Chamber of Ukraine and the Western Interregional Department of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, and Lviv RJRC members.
“Lviv Regional Justice Reform Council was established by the EU Project Pravo-Justice three years ago to bring information about the region's legal problems up to the central authorities. So, today we managed to bring together various professionals to discuss the future of the open land market and highlight the problems that we can solve today,” said Marta Mochulska, moderator of the event, coordinator of Lviv RJRC.
During thefirst session, the participants discussed judicial practice on land disputes. The session was moderated by Maksym Zhelik, Deputy President of the Western Economic Court of Appeal.
Yurii Chumak, judge of the Cassation Economic Court of the Supreme Court, presented the legal opinions of the Supreme Court on concluding land lease agreements, transferring lease rights, amending and terminating lease agreements.
"As a court, we must guide the judicial practice and determine the remedy which will lead to the effective restoration of a right. That is why such round tables with practitioners are very useful,” emphasized Yurii Chumak.
Vitalii Urkevich, Judge of the Cassation Economic Court of the Supreme Court, developed on the position of the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court on the jurisdiction of land disputes, which is conditioned by the following aspects:
- nature of litigants;
- subject of the dispute;
- nature of the disputed substantive legal relations;
- statutory-based guidance on applicable jurisdiction of a relevant category of cases.
“A dispute must be resolved by a court only once. So that there is no situation where the plaintiff goes first to an administrative court – in order to cancel the order of the State Geocadastre, and then – to a commercial or a civil court, - said Vitalii Urkevich.
Svitlana Boiko, judge of the Western Economic Court of Appeal, used real cases to talk about problematic issues that arise in the field of land-relating legislation.
The second session of the round table was dedicated to the features and prospects of the state registration of land-relating rights. Roksolana Kostur, lawyer, partner of the Matviyiv & Partners Law Firm, member of Lviv RJRC, moderated that session.
Taras Hren, Head of the Western Interregional Department of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, outlined the problematic issues related to the acquisition and state registration of rights to agricultural land, including:
- errors in the State Geocadastre, such as lack of land plots, wrong area measurement, or purpose of use;
- absence in the State Register of Real Rights of registrations of land ownership before 31.12.2012;
- cases of double registration of lease rights due to improper search by state registrars or lack of data in the registers;
- problems with interaction of registers, which are administered by different authorities, etc.
Yurii Pylypenko, Head of Lviv Regional Branch of the Notary Chamber of Ukraine, covered the practical aspects of state registration of land rights by notaries: “Today, any registration of land rights is carried out through direct interaction between the State Land Cadastre and the State Register of Real Rights. If during the state registration, there is no information about the registered land plot in the State Geocadastre, the state registrar cannot even accept the application for state registration of rights. If the information is incomplete or inaccurate, the state registrar shall suspend consideration of the application and send a request to the state cadastral registrar to update the information, enter reliable information, or double-check certain data”.
In turn, Roman Savchuk, National Expert of the EU Project Pravo-Justice, focused on the challenges on the way of ensuring control over the concentration of agricultural land:
- deeper integration of all state registers – to simplify and automate inspections;
- providing access to state electronic registers not only to state registrars and notaries, but also to courts.
“One of the promising areas for further engagement of the Project is to initiate and implement measures to improve and integrate the state electronic registers within one platform,” said Roman Savchuk.
Given the large number of unresolved land market issues, the EU Project Pravo-Justice plans continuing discussions in other Ukrainian regions.
Regional Justice Reform Councils (RJRCs) have been established with support of the 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.