In late September 2012 amendments to the Arbitrazh Procedure Code of the Russian Federation (the “APC”) regulating simplified trial by commercial courts came into force.
The new rules of the simplified trial are aimed to substantially reduce the time taken for case review by the commercial courts and increase their efficiency.
The simplified procedure lasts two months and the case has to be resolved on the last day of this period. The ruling is executed immediately.
Due to the reduced terms for case review, as well as the parties’ limited access to direct involvement in the trial, we recommend that the website of the Supreme Commercial Court of the Russian Federation (the “SCC”) is monitored on a day-to-day basis for any actions that may be brought (http://kad.arbitr.ru/).
On 08 October 2012 the Plenum of the SCC enacted a Ruling “On certain aspects of simplified trial in commercial courts”.
Grounds for applying simplified trial
The simplified trial is available if directly provided in the APC (this is considered by the court when accepting the claim) or agreed by parties (it may be proposed by the court). Subject to the APC, the simplified procedure may be applied if:
- the claim is based on documents evidencing a debtor’s liabilities (which are acknowledged but defaulted) or debts arising from agreements (loan, credit, lease etc.). A written acknowledgement of debt by a debtor (in response to a claim, a signed reconciliation act or tax return) is also considered to be such a document. The amount of the claim in such cases, however, is not relevant;
- the claim arises from a notary’s protest of a bill in case of default, non-acceptance and non-dating of the acceptance of a bill;
- the amount of claim does not exceed 300,000 rubles (7,500 Euro) for legal entities and 100,000 rubles (2,500) for individual entrepreneurs;
- decrees of governmental bodies recovering cash assets or imposing administrative liability (by way of penalty exclusively) up to 100,000 rubles are challenged.
The scope of simplified procedure
Ultimately, any commercial dispute may be resolved via a simplified trial provided the parties agree to this.
However, the APC expressly prohibits corporate disputes and class actions from being subject to a simplified trial. In addition, the simplified procedure may not be applied if third parties intervene in the case independently.
The court shall also transfer the case for ordinary trial if within the simplified procedure it is established that:
- expertise, witness or evidence examination is required;
- the claim may affect rights and interests of others;
- the simplified procedure does not fulfill the requirements of an efficient trial; or
- divulgence of state secrets may occur.
The court shall transfer to an ordinary trial if there is no evidence that the parties have been duly notified about the case being heard under the simplified procedure by the date of enactment of the ruling.
The decision to transfer to an ordinary trial shall be reasoned by the court and may not be challenged.
A hearing of a case by a simplified trial may not be postponed. It is conducted without preparation and citation of the parties. All the documents are allocated on the official court website with limited access.
The parties have at least 15 business days to file evidence and defence statements. Additional evidence may be brought within a period of not less than 30 days. Documents filed after expiration of this term will be rejected by the court. The only defence available is that the parties failed to comply with the term due to “independent reasons”.
The ruling comes into force on the 10th day after enactment if not challenged on appeal.