On 16 July 2022, a new set of provisions of the Law of Ukraine "On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as the State Language" ("Law") will come into force, including requirements concerning the language of software user interfaces and websites. Moreover, the Commissioner for the protection of the state language ("Commissioner") will finally be able to enforce these and and other provisions through the imposition of a range of fines. More information on a part of the earlier effective provisions is in our previous Legal Alert.

Key takeaways

Following the three-year transition period, the following requirements of Article 27 of the Law will eventually become effective as of 16 July 2022:

  1. User interfaces of software installed on products marketed in Ukraine shall be in Ukrainian and, in terms of volume and content, the Ukrainian version should contain no less information than the foreign-language versions of such interface. Noncompliant products will be considered defective, and this may give rise to consumer protection liability.
  2. Internet representations (e.g., websites and social media pages) of media registered in Ukraine, as well as businesses that market their products/services in Ukraine and are registered in Ukraine, shall be in Ukrainian. The Law allows having internet representations in other languages provided that the Ukrainian version is available for users by default and contains no less information than the foreign-language versions, in terms of volume and content.
  3. Foreign entities that market their products/services in Ukraine and have subsidiaries, affiliated entities, and/or representative offices in Ukraine must ensure that the volume and content of the Ukrainian version of their website is sufficient for convenient user navigation and presenting the business activity of the owner of such internet representation, and that such version is available for users by default.

For the first-time violation of the provisions under 2 and 3, the Commissioner may give a warning. Succeeding violations will be punished with a fine up to USD 145 (or up to USD 340 if repeated within a year since the last violation). Additionally, the provisions empowering the Commissioner to impose fines for violations of the Law will also come into force as of 16 July 2022. Hence, the Commissioner will soon be equipped with new powers to enforce the Law more strictly. The fines may vary between USD 96 and USD 240 for first-time violations and between USD 240 and USD 340 if it is repeated within a year since the last violation.

Recommendations

Taking into account the current situation in Ukraine, compliance with the Law has become an even more sensitive and important issue. Local consumers will likely be eager to identify and complain about violations of the Law or even initiate boycotts of noncompliant businesses. Therefore, aligning business activity with the requirements of the Law is highly recommended. It is also advisable to closely monitor developments in enforcement practice and watch out for new guidelines or clarifications from the Commissioner.