VII East Ukrainian Legal Forum

2019-05-23

KHARKIV - May 23, 2019. The Eastern Ukrainian Legal Forum joined together lawyers from all over Ukraine.

The first day of the forum was devoted to discussing three topical issues: effective court proceedings, procedural codes and recent trends in the fight against corruption.

Andriy Stelmashchuk, President of the Ukrainian Bar Association, thanked the event partners: Vasil Kisil & Partners, Amber Law Company, LCF Law Group, Sheverdin & Partners, Shkrebets & Partners, Ares Law Firm, VB PARTNERS, Ario Law Firm, and informational partners for their support, and highlighted the importance of the event, where lawyers and colleagues from all over the country have the opportunity to communicate and share experiences.

The first session was devoted to the topic "Effective justice: expectations and realities". Moderator of the session, Andriy Stelmashchuk, said: "At the moment, we have a judicial reform that was launched five years ago, so there are many issues that need to be discussed."

Ivar Tallo, the key international expert of the EU PRAVO-Justice Project, told what exactly international experts are doing to the e-court in Ukraine, what are the expectations and obstacles on the way to its implementation. "The judicial system is always conservative - this is common all over the world. The problem is that everyone wants innovations, but nobody wants to understand them," - says Ivar.

He noted that despite the ambitious plans, the future prospect of the development of this system is still full of unsolved issues. Ivar also noted that there was a gap between IT specialists and lawyers: "IT specialists contributed in their own way, hoping that lawyers would adjust the system to themselves. Unfortunately that's wrong - in the modern world we do it a bit differently. It is necessary not to translate this burden on technicians, but to consider what innovations need to be implemented. Only compatible work can bring fast fruit."

Olena Kibenko, judge of the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court, spoke about the electronic court and its current state, as well as how effective the judiciary is: "The SC is trying to utilize such innovations, we are open to them. Now we need the right people who are ready to implement them. Lawyers should be actively involved in the introduction of electronic technologies into the legal market! You must understand that judges will be the first to oppose innovations, and this is normal, this is psychology. Therefore, we must recognize the problem, because now lawyers and problems are separated."

The judge emphasized: "It is unnecessary to introduce something global at once; you can start with the improvement of the small one that already exists."

Experts have come to terms with the need to change the culture from the very beginning. It's impossible to do this rudely in any case.

Feedback is everything to us, because with its help we can quickly eliminate problems together," - said Viktor Yatsyna, judge of Kharkiv Court of Appeal.

Olena Kibenko considered the issue of conflicts of interest in judiciary activities and dwelt in detail on concrete examples of settlement of such a conflict, provided clarification on the presence or absence of a potential and real conflict of interests.

From the experts' point of view, it became clear that the issue of conflict of interest in the activities of the judge is relevant. The current legislation on identifying, preventing and resolving conflicts of interest in the activities of a judge is imperfect. This fact is also confirmed by international experts. At the same time, the lack of consistency of legislation does not exempt a judge from liability for actions or decisions adopted in a conflict of interest.

Viktor Yatsina spoke about ways to prevent the court from abusing civil law, defining the notion of preventing abuse of rights, spoke about ensuring a reasonable time for trial by the court, the position of the ECHR on the role of national courts, and considered the active role of the court in ensuring the right to a fair trial consideration.

The participants discussed the status and prospects of the Code of Procedure during the second session under the moderation of Dovydas Viskauskas, Head of the EU PRAVO-Justice Project, and Roman Chumak, managing partner at Ares. During this session, the following issues were discussed: the first results on monitoring the implementation of the Civil and Commercial Procedural Codes, the features of simplified proceedings in the administrative process and the problems of proof, disclosure, presentation and evaluation of evidence.

In particular, Dovydas Vitkauskas said: "I will highlight the main theses on the vector of the law and practice delelopment: 1. We need more standardization - there is a lack of clarity over general principles, for example, the protection of the parties from formalism in the trial. 2. Evidence shall be based on European standards. It is very important to use the presumption of in the process of proof. This is much unregarded in Ukraine at this time. My key message is to adopt general principles and follow them the same way".

Jean Lagadeque, lecturer at the University of Paris, an international expert of the EU PRAVO-Justice Project, said, "It is a great honour for me to speak in front of such audience! We all well understand the importance of the role of the court in Ukraine, so I will express my impressions of talking with the judges:

1. The court acts legally. Judges believe that some moments were better organized earlier. They are worried about the poor organization of their work - the law fails to set clear limits and some important points.

2. A judge must be protected from the state. The judges claim, that there are grounds, according to the judges themselves, they often receive direct threats, there are obstacles in holding meetings."

Vasiliy Krat, judge of the Court of Cassation in the Supreme Court, spoke about ensuring the unity of judicial practice, horizontal power and mechanisms for the presence or absence of specialization.

Julia Atamanova, counsel at LCF, spoke about the principle of adversity and conscientiousness, how these principles work together and complement each other. She noted that with the adoption of new codes, these principles became truly effective: "Often the judge cannot estimate how fair is the trial goes. Accordingly, procedural leverage is needed in such a situation, in order to balance the positions that the parties bring to court," - she said.

Experts stressed that the mentality of the parties to the trial is gradually changing. Katerina Drobiazko, associate at Amber, drew attention to the need to work towards the introduction of modern technologies into the legal sphere by joint efforts.

Oleksii Brintsev, judge of the Economic Court of Kharkiv region, disclosed the principle of efficiency and how it is implemented in justice.

The judge described the benefits of universalization of court proceedings, "de-commercialization" of the commercial procedure and the main factors contributing to bringing the economic procedure closer to the civil procedure.

Volodymyr Vashchenko, partner at VB PARTNERS, touched upon the topic of evidencing, and talked about the problems of evidence, disclosure, presentation and evaluation of evidence and new procedural opportunities.

The third session was devoted to the latest trends in the fight against corruption, where a number of issues related to the corruption were discussed. Moderator of this session was Maksym Kosteckiy, legal counsel at Transparency International Ukraine.

Among the issues on the agenda: pre-trial investigations (DBR, NABU, Prosecutor's Office); nuances of disclosure of corruption schemes; automatic check of declarations; prevention of invalid declarations; protection of a lawyer the lawyer from illegal actions of law enforcement agencies etc.

The second day of the forum began with a session devoted to the topic "The mysterious world of lawyers: what is happening there". The moderator of this session was Andriy Romanchuk, managing partner at MORIS.

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