KYIV - August 06, 2020. The concept of judicial reform proposed by the Office of Simple Decisions and Results contradicts the Constitution of Ukraine, is ineffective in improving the judiciary, and carries the risk of violating Ukraine’s obligations to ensure the independence of the judiciary under international standards and the right to a fair trial. This is stated in the resolution of the UBA Committee on Procedural Law, adopted today.
We should remind that the initiative in question was presented* on July 28 by Mikheil Saakashvili, Chair of the Executive Committee for Reforms, who called for its discussion. The Committee's experts stressed that the legal community is ready for a relevant discussion and will welcome professional debate:
“We believe that the introduction of any proposals for structural changes in the justice system should be preceded by a full expert (scientific and practical) discussion, forecasting the consequences of the proposed changes.”
At the same time, lawyers reminded of the already traditional trend of such reform and stressed that such attempts are repeated with each change of government in the country:
“These actions can be seen as nothing more than an attempt by each subsequent political elite to influence the judiciary, thereby limiting its independence,” the resolution reads.
The Committee's experts noted that such approach to reforming the judiciary violated the principle of independence and was unacceptable. Among other glaring gaps, they singled out:
1. Misconceptions about current problems of the judicial system of Ukraine. Lawyers noted that the presentation gave the impression that the problems in the Ukrainian judicial system are precisely in the structural dimension: "too many courts - too many problems." However, the number of courts and their hierarchy do not really have a decisive influence on access to and quality of justice.
2. Violation of the right to a fair trial due to non-compliance with reasonable time limits for consideration of the case, in particular, due to the deepening crisis of the staff shortage of judges and the possible collapse of the entire justice system.
3. Inconsistency of the liquidation of specialized courts with global trends to improve the quality of justice. Lawyers stressed that the existence of specialized courts is an objective necessity. Moreover, they have already demonstrated their own effectiveness. Argumentation The Office's proposed changes do not answer the question of how liquidation will improve the quality of justice and facilitate access to it.
In addition, the experts of the UBA Committee reiterated the urgency of resolving the critical situation with the financing of the judiciary and the inadmissibility of pressure on judicial independence due to the impact on the financial support of courts and judges.
*Note. The concept provides:
1. Liquidation of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine.
2. Merger of administrative, commercial and general courts.
3. Creation of new courts with uncertain functions.
4. Significant reduction in the number of judges of the Supreme Court.
5. Liquidation of High Council of Justice and High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine.
The full text of the resolution from the UBA Committee on Procedural Law is available by the link (in Ukrainian).