Ukrainian and Polish legal professionals and academicians discuss the developments in administrative justice in Ukraine, share best practices of the EU and of Poland in particular.
The newly introduced simplified proceedings, as well as complete reimbursement of the court fees, are to approximate the Ukrainian administrative justice to the European standards. Complete reimbursement of the court fees will open the access to the services of professional lawyers to everyone and is supposed to motivate the authorities to not let the dispute develop to the court proceeding stage. Simplified proceeding foresees a 60-day term for simple cases. More complicated cases are to be considered within a maximum of 90 days. It was stated by Viktor Korolenko, head of the Office of the Presidential Administration for Representing the Interests of the President of Ukraine in Courts at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Reimbursement of the court fees is foreseen in full for both persons and legal entities. “It is supposed to make the authorities work in a more thorough way over the decisions they adopt. They will keep in mind that unmotivated decisions may lead to the need to reimburse the lawyer’s fees in court to another side at the expense of the state budget. Moreover, a civil servant may get a disciplinary fine or get fired,” emphasized Viktor Korolenko.
Roman Kuibida, deputy head of the board at the Centre for Policy and Legal Reform noted that the increased court fee may lead to the situation when some persons or legal entities will find themselves unable to use their right to have an administrative case considered in court. Viktor Korolenko emphasized that the court fee will not exceed the financial capacities of the citizens. “In the EU today over 50 percent of financing for judiciary comes from the court fees. In Ukraine the respective figure is low. These novelties will make judiciary develop faster and in a more efficient way,” said the head of the office for representation of the President in courts.
Mykhailo Smokovych, Judge, Secretary of the Plenum of the High Administrative Court of Ukraine, said that much of the criticism coming from the international community targets the right of the authorities to file cases to the administrative court alongside natural persons and legal entities. Viktor Korolenko said that starting from 2020 lawyers will be representing the rights of the state agencies in administrative courts. “It will also serve as a motivation for the state agencies to adopt decisions in accordance with the law and will decrease the number of court cases,” Korolenko said.
Another novelty is to become the practice of engaging external experts into the proceedings. They will be engaged by the case participants. Today administrative cases have become complex to the extent that the opinion of external experts in some aspects is needed, said Marek Wierzbowski, chairman of the scientific board of the Institute of Legal-Administrative Sciences at the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Warsaw, a partner at the Wierzbowski and Partners. However there is a risk that the experts will be taking up the role of the judge when it comes to adoption of the final decision, the lawyer added. Michał Jabłoński, attorney, a partner at Dentons Warsaw legal firm added that it may affect the objectivity of expert decisions. In his turn, Viktor Korolenko emphasized that the experts will not be empowered as participants of the proceedings but will voice their position when explanations on foreign law or application of a similar law are required. The position of a legal expert will not be considered a source of proof but will serve as additional information for both the court and the case participants. EU courts often engage legal experts into proceedings when there is a need for a professional opinion in a very narrow branch of the law.