On 22 November 2013, the Russian State Duma adopted bill No. 352924-6 (the "Bill") in its third reading. The bill abolishes the Supreme Commercial Court of the Russian Federation (the "SCC") as an independent judicial institution and the highest commercial court in Russia.
It is expected that the Bill, which was approved by the Federation Council on 27 November 2013 and contains amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, will be signed by the Russian President in the near future.
The Bill in a nutshell
The Bill stipulates that the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (the "Supreme Court") will be the highest judicial authority in civil matters, economic disputes (i.e. that it will get the current functions of the SCC), criminal, administrative and other matters.
A six-month transition period is provided for the hand-over of the SCC’s authority to the Supreme Court. During this period, the judges of the SCC and the Supreme Court will continue to exercise their functions until the Supreme Court is operational in accordance with the Bill. The judges who will sit on the reformed Supreme Court (170 judges in total) will need to pass a qualifying exam before a special examination committee.
Until the reorganisation process of the higher courts in Russia completes, one can anticipate some organisational problems in the functioning of the Russian judicial system, as well as a certain level of nervousness in the manner the commercial courts, especially at appellate and cassation levels, will operate.