On April 11, 2014 enters into legal force the Law of Ukraine No. 4378-1 “On restoring trust in the court system of Ukraine”, which was adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament on April 8, 2014.
This Law provides for the formation of the Interim Special Commission of the High Council of Justice with the authority to conduct examination of judges. The Commission will function for one year only. During this period the Commission should complete the process of examining judges.
Examinations will be conducted with respect to judges who ruled to restrict rights and freedoms of citizens during the period starting on November 21, 2013 (“revolutionary period”) or rendered decisions in cases in which the European Court of Human Rights established a violation by Ukraine of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
According to the new Law, examination of a judge will be commenced based on an application. Applications may be submitted by any interested party within 6 months following the date when the Commission was formed.
After the completion of the examination, the Commission, rather than rendering any decisions as to liability of a judge, will instead deliver a report of the judge’s violation of his or her oath. This report, together with the materials reviewed, will be sent for consideration by the High Council of Justice. The High Council of Justice will then decide whether a particular judge violated his or her oath and whether he or she should thus be dismissed.
The Interim Special Commission of the High Council of Justice consists of 15 members. The Supreme Court of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada and the Government Plenipotentiary for anti-corruption policy appoint 5 members each.
As of April 11, 2014 all chairmen and their deputies of all Ukrainian courts of general jurisdiction including civil, administrative and commercial courts are considered to be released from their positions. At the same time they remain judges and could be reelected as chairmen or deputy chairmen of a court based on a new procedure.
In particular, the Law amends the Law of Ukraine “On the court system and the status of judges”, which provides that a chairman of the court and his deputy are elected by secret ballot of a majority of three-quarters of the total number of judges of the court for 1 year and could be early relieved from their post in the same way. Before the enactment of this Law the election of a chairman was not secret, and thus, this new procedure may help to minimize the pressure on judges in the voting process.
In addition, starting from April 11, 2014, the credentials of all members of the High Council of Justice and the High Qualification Commission of Judges are terminated and these individuals may no longer be reappointed to these positions.