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Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada has introduced electronic litigation, allowed involving legal experts to be brought to trial, and allowed judges to circumvent the norms of laws, if they contradict the Constitution.
Bill 6232 has been under consideration for two plenary weeks, and 234 MPs supported it. This is a record large document (more than 700 pages), which makes changes to three codes – Economic, Civil Procedural, and Code of Administrative Proceedings, as well as other laws.
Electronic proceedings will begin a year after the entry into force of the law. It is expected that this will enhance the impartiality of the judges, because they will be selected by an automated system. The critics emphasize that if the case is considered by the collegium "honestly and fairly" they will choose only one judge-rapporteur, and others will be appointed, which means that the human factor will affect what is happening. And even if the system of electronic legal proceedings does not work for 5 days, judges can be appointed (not randomly). This rule can lead to abuses and deliberate attempts to stop the system.
What does this mean for Ukrainians? They might submit documents to the court in electronic form, using an electronic signature. And they do not need to file copies for all participants in the case - the court will send them the appropriate files. But if a lawsuit, appeal or cassation was filed electronically, the rest of the documents in the case should be sent in the same way. And if you registered an official e-mail address in the electronic legal system - all documents on the cases will be sent there, without paper form. Critics argue that the person may not have constant access to the computer and the Internet.
At the same time, the right to apply to the court in paper form remains in effect.
"The indisputable advantages of the new draft of the Civil Procedure Code are increased effectiveness of the proceedings by introducing electronic legal proceedings, simplified procedures for examining, shortening the time for consideration of cases, optimizing the order of cases and bringing it is in a state of public relevance," says Serhiy Chvankin, chairman of one of Odesa city courts.
Serhiy Kivalov, People's Deputy from Opposition bloc, member of the Committee on Legal Policy and Justice, former member of the Venice Commission, is convinced that the proceedings would become more expensive.
The plaintiff would have to pay 150% of the amount of the court fee for handling the claim (now he pays 110%), cassation - 200% (now - 120%). For example, in property disputes relating to real estate, the rates of the court fee for handling appeals and cassations have reached 485 USD and 650 USD respectively. But paying the court fee is not enough. If the judge-speaker believes that the amount of the court fee, which you have paid, is not included and a special fund of the State Budget of Ukraine - a lawsuit, complaint or statement would not be considered until the admission is done," Holos Ukrainy quoted Kivalov.
He added that the document provides for the opportunity to save money. In particular, you would get 20% discount when filing a suit, appeal or cassation in electronic form.
In the meantime, the representative of Blok of Petro Poroshenko, the chairman of the committee for legal policy and justice Ruslan Knyazevych stressed that when the document was finalized for the second reading, norms were removed to increase the rates of the court fee.
The document was discussed for a long time, hence, it was criticized by many experts. The right of judges to be directly guided by the norms of the Constitution, if the law contradicts them, seems to be vey controversial. Critics stressed that now the Constitutional Court can only recognize the norms of laws as unconstitutional.
The bill provides an opportunity to bring a legal expert to the case. Opponents of this rule argue that it is the judge who is an expert in the field of law, and no one else can perform such a role.
Among the most controversial moments are the norms, according to which people are allowed to sit in court only if there are vacant seats; the court could choose a place from which could be conducted or might ban broadcasting it at all. However, just before the voting, the committee proposed to exclude such norms - and the people's deputies supported this position.
The document is aimed at combating the "abuse of rights" of the plaintiffs. If a person appeals against a court decision that is not subject to appeal, duplicates the claim, resorts to a "groundless challenge" or deliberately failed to disclose people who should be attached to the case, he/she will be subjected to sanctions. The court can return the complaint without a review; give a fine in the amount of 2-20 subsistence minimums for able-bodied persons (as of the moment it is 130- 1180 USD) or oblige the offender to pay legal costs in full or in part - regardless of who will win the case.