Statement on the Appointment of Judges on Non-Competitive Basis

2016-12-20

KYIV – 20 December 2016. The Ukrainian Bar Association (UBA) published a statement stressing the need to appoint judges whose term in office has been terminated, on the non-competitive basis (regarding the Draft Law “On the High Council of Justice” Reg. No 5180 of 23.09.2016).

The Ukrainian Bar Association addressed the people's deputies of Ukraine calling on them to provide in the Draft Law “On the High Council of Justice” (Reg. No 5180 of 23.09.2016) a unified mechanism of one time appointment on non-competitive basis of judges previously appointed for the term of five years, whose term in office has been terminated with the end of five-year term.

The UBA supports the reform of the judicial system of Ukraine, directed at strengthening the authority of the court, promoting an independent and professional judiciary.

Subparagraph 2, paragraph 16-1 of the Transitional Provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine envisages that the powers of judges appointed for a term of five years shall terminate with the end of the term for which they were appointed. These judges can be appointed to a position of a judge in the manner specified by law.

According to the Law of Ukraine “On the Judiciary and Status of Judges" of 06.02.2016 the appointment of a judge to a vacant position shall be carried out on a competitive basis.

Presently, the judicial system of Ukraine suffers from a serious shortage of judges. More than 2,000 judges have retired; about 1,000 judges have no authority to practice justice. During 2017-2018, the powers of more than 1,000 judges elected by competition under the supervision of international organizations will be terminated. According to the High Qualification Commission of Judges, more than 200 local courts have more than 50% open positions and feel serious shortage of judges.

This leads to the situation where judges who have the power to practice justice, work with excess load and cannot guarantee a reasonable time of the hearing.

The adoption of the Law of Ukraine No 5180 without a possibility of one-time appointment on the non-competitive basis of judges previously appointed for the term of five years, whose term in office has been terminated upon the end of five-year term, may lead to a disruption of work of a number of courts. The exercise of the constitutional right of citizens to access to justice in such case would be considerably difficult.

In 2015, the Ukrainian Bar Association has made an open appeal to the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman and Chairman of the High Qualification Commission of Judges Sergiy Koziakov stating the situation with non-election of judges for an indefinite term and warned that such actions could have negative consequences for Ukraine's legal system.

We understand the complexity of the situation that occurred with the appointment of judges, and the importance of the reform of the judiciary in Ukraine. However, we wish to emphasize the inadmissibility of limiting the access to court and delaying the consideration of cases.

Given the above, to ensure the efficient workload of judges and guarantee the consideration of cases within a reasonable time, the Ukrainian Bar Association addresses the people’s deputies of Ukraine  to envisage in the Draft Law  "On the High Council of Justice" (No  5180 of 23.09.2016) a unified mechanism of one time appointment on non-competitive basis of judges previously appointed for the term of five years, whose term in office has been terminated with the end of five-year term. 

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