Judicial reform to increase number of appeals to ECHR – lawyers

The judicial reform law adopted on October 3 will increase the number of citizens' appeals to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) due to the inability to challenge judgments in Ukraine, according to lawyers interviewed by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

In particular, Ihor Kravtsov, head of dispute resolution practice at the EVRIS law firm, noted that procedural savings were the goal of changes to procedural codes.

"In our opinion, the adopted amendments will increase the number of appeals to the ECHR. Many provisions are written out in a controversial and incorrect manner, and therefore it is rather difficult to apply them without giving grounds for appeal," he said.

At the same time, the lawyer said that the number of appeals to the ECHR had been growing in recent years even without this reform, with relatively stable legislation.

"Significant changes in the system will further strengthen the desire to seek justice in international courts," Kravtsov said.

He also said that the expected revision of the rates of a court fee could also limit access to justice.

"Given the lawyer's monopoly, which came into effect last year, the court is becoming an increasingly elite institution for those who can afford this 'expensive pleasure,'" he said.

Managing Partner at Suprema Lex Viktor Moroz, in turn, noted that "changes to the procedural codes and increase in the rates of a court fee, which now entails the main role of the formation of the judicial budget, may cause a certain restriction of the possibility of appealing judgments."

"It is particularly expensive and difficult to appeal the court decisions at the level of a cassation [court], which gets the right, at sufficiently high rates of court fees, to selectively determine which complaints can be considered and which of them rejected according to formal criteria," he said.

While commenting on the possibility of increasing the number of applications to the ECHR, Moroz recalled that one of the main reasons for the revision by the ECHR of the decisions of Ukrainian courts was the violation of the right to a fair trial and the restriction of access to justice.

"Given that with sufficiently progressive innovations, judicial reform leads to a significant rise in the cost and complexity of the trial, I believe that it is possible to predict an increase in the number of appeals of Ukrainian citizens to the ECHR," he said.

As reported, on Tuesday, October 3, the Verkhovna Rada adopted as a whole the law (No. 6232), which will ensure the functioning of the new Supreme Court as a single cassation institution, and also regulated procedural mechanisms in courts.

One of the main innovations of the law is the definition of the Supreme Court as a single cassation body in Ukraine and the introduction of a new procedure for the Supreme Court to consider cases.

Deputy Head of the Verkhovna Rada Oksana Syroid (elected from the Samopomich party) and several MPs from the Samopomich faction proposed cancelling this law. Batkivschyna believes that the changes in the Criminal Procedure Code exempted from accountability the accomplices of crimes of Ukraine's runaway president Viktor Yanukovych.