On 14 March 2011, the federal constitutional law “On Courts of General Jurisdiction in the Russian Federation” (the “Law”) – which regulates the authority, process of formation and the composition of courts of general jurisdiction, with the exception of military courts and magistrates – came into force.

The main innovation of the Law is the inclusion of an appeals process for court decisions that have not yet come into force.

The Law envisages the creation of a Board of Appeals of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (the “Board”) to replace the Board of Cassation. The Board will hear appeals of cases on which the Judicial Divisions of the Supreme Court have ruled at first instance. The Civil Procedure Code and the Criminal Procedure Code have been amended accordingly as part of the judiciary reform.

The Law’s provisions on the appeal procedure for civil cases and for criminal cases are set to come into force on 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, respectively. The Board will also perform the functions of the former Board of Cassation during the transition period.

The Law also provides for developing accessibility to the court process in Russia. To this end, a permanent court “presence” may be arranged in remote areas for individuals that are taking part in court proceedings. This “presence” may be organised under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (the “Court”), and it would be located outside the permanent location of the Court.

The establishment of the appeals process under the law is aimed at bringing Russia’s judicial system into line with European standards of justice, which should improve the quality of court proceedings.

[Federal Constitutional Law No. 1-FKZ “On Courts of General Jurisdiction in the Russian Federation”, dated 7 February 2011]