On 5 October 2017, Ukrainian Parliament passed the Law ratifying Protocol No. 15 (“Protocol 15”) and Protocol No. 16 (“Protocol 16”) to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the “Convention”).

This accession is important for Ukraine, which, being a member of the European Council, is in the top list of the countries against which the highest number of applications is filed in the European Court of Human Rights (the “Court”).

Protocol 15 amends the Convention to ensure that the Court’s practice is consistent and to cope with bottlenecks. The significant change for the applicants is that the time limit to submit an application has been decreased from six months to four months following a final decision by the domestic court of final instance.

The purpose of Protocol 16 is to solve the problem of the member states’ domestic courts failing to implement the Convention correctly. It introduces the option for domestic courts to seek from the Court non-binding advisory opinions on the case in question and on issues related to the interpretation or application of the rights and freedoms defined in the Convention and its protocols. Ukraine designated its Supreme Court as the only court having the right to request an opinion. Protocol 15 introduces remarkable changes to the procedures of the Court, which must be considered and followed by potential applicants to the Court.

With regard to Ukraine, Protocol 16 introduces to Ukrainian court system an unprecedented mechanism of consultations between the highest judicial body of the state (i.e. the Supreme Court) and an international court, potentially increasing cohesion between the Ukrainian national legal system and the system of international rules established by the Convention.

However, the ratification of the Protocols will not lead to immediate effect upon Ukrainian parties considering application to the Court. This is because Protocol 15 needs to be ratified by all parties to the Convention in order to enter into force (Ukraine’s ratification is 37th out of 47 members of European Council), and Protocol 16 needs to be ratified by 10 countries to enter into force (Ukraine’s ratification is the ninth).

Legislation: Draft Law of Ukraine “On Ratification of Protocols No. 15 and 16 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” passed by the Parliament on 05 October 2017.