Russia has just adopted a federal law* that substantially reforms procedural legislation. The law introduces professional representation and amends the rules of simplified and summary proceedings, as well as some aspects of the consideration of cases at the appellate and cassation levels, and the execution of judicial acts.

This law is yet another piece in the set of new laws aimed at improving Russian procedural legislation. It is expected that the quality of consideration of both civil and commercial cases will improve as a result.

Professional representation

The law introduces professional representation in commercial (“arbitrazh”) courts and courts of general jurisdiction. After the law comes into force, only persons with a law degree will be able to act as representatives in court proceedings. An exception has been made for representation in the district courts and before magistrates. Also, this requirement does not apply to insolvency officers (“arbitrazhnye upravlyayushchie”), patent attorneys and trade unions in the relevant categories of cases.

This new requirement should increase the professionalism of representatives in court proceedings and have a positive impact on the interests of parties to a court case.

Simplified and summary proceedings

In order to reduce the burden on judges, the law increases the maximum threshold under which monetary claims can be considered in simplified commercial proceedings. For legal entities the threshold is raised from RUB 500,000 to 800,000 (EUR 6,600 to 10,600), while for individual entrepreneurs it has been increased from RUB 250,000 to 400,000 (EUR 3,300 to 5,300).

In addition, there is now a single requirement for the maximum threshold under which monetary claims can be considered in summary proceedings. Thus, this amount cannot exceed RUB 500,000 (EUR 6,600) for both civil and commercial proceedings.

Consideration on appeal

The courts of appeal will have additional grounds for returning a case to the court of first instance. In particular, this possibility is provided in cases where the court of first instance did not:

  • consider an application for the restoration of time limits for filing the appeal;
  • consider comments on the minutes of the court hearing;
  • consider an application for a supplementary decision; or
  • set out the grounds on which the decision was adopted.

Consideration in cassation

The law provides that the courts of general jurisdiction acting as cassation instance (new cassation courts on which we previously reported) will consider all complaints received. In accordance with the current regulation, cassation claims are first considered by a single judge who decides whether or not to transfer the case to the court of cassation. This, in essence, limits the possibility of challenging a decision at the cassation level.

Change in enforcement proceedings

As a general rule, the law exempts the courts from issuing a writ of execution to the applicant. After the law comes into force, such an act will only be issued at the request of the applicant, except when money is being recovered for the public treasury.

Dropped initiatives

During the discussion of the law, a number of initiatives proposed in the initial bill were abandoned. In particular, the legislator rejected the idea of cancelling the requirement for the courts to set out the grounds for their decisions and obliging participants in civil proceedings to monitor the progress of a case on the internet.

Entry into force of the law

As of this writing, the question of this law’s entry into force remains uncertain. The legislation should enter into force when the new cassation and appeal courts of general jurisdiction begin operation. However, this date is to be separately determined by the Plenum of the Russian Supreme Court no later than 1 October 2019.