The beginning of full-scale hostilities on the territory of Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022 and the introduction of martial law in the country, affected all spheres of public life, incl. for the administration of justice. In this article, we will analyze how the courts work in the new reality,
How courts work under martial law
First, Art. 26 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Legal Regime of Martial Law” stipulates that justice in the territory where martial law has been introduced is carried out only by courts. Courts established in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine operate on this territory. Reducing or speeding up any form of legal proceedings is prohibited.
Thus, according to information posted on the website of the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine, as of March 26, 2022, 136 courts of appeal and local courts (20% of the total) do not administer justice in connection with being in the combat zone, and 48 courts (7%) are located in the territories temporarily not controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. To date, 35 court premises (5% of the total) have been damaged or completely destroyed, 3 of which have been completely destroyed.
In this regard, on the official website of the Supreme Court and on the page of the Supreme Court on the Facebook social network, a map of the territories of Ukraine is updated weekly, where, due to the war, justice is not administered by courts of general jurisdiction, and the change in the territorial jurisdiction of the courts is also indicated. In particular, in connection with the conduct of hostilities on the territory of Ukraine (Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Nikolaev, Zaporizhia, Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk regions), as of 04/06/2022, the territorial jurisdiction of 128 courts has already been changed. On 04/08/2022, the territorial jurisdiction of 2 more courts was changed (the Krasnoarmeisky city district court of the Donetsk region and the Barvenkovsky district court of the Kharkiv region).
What cases are considered and how court sessions are held
It depends on many factors. Firstly, cases are considered only by courts that are located in territories where there are no active hostilities and which are not occupied. Secondly, whether the case is being considered depends on the type of legal proceedings, the procedural behavior of the participants in the case, whether the court has the technical ability to conduct a court session via videoconference, etc.
With regard to the consideration of cases in the order of administrative, civil and economic proceedings, most cases are adjourned when a participant in the case submits a petition for the adjournment or failure to appear at the court session at least one of the participants. This is explained by the fact that a large number of people are currently involved in work at critical infrastructure facilities or have joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine, territorial defense, volunteer military units and other forms of countering armed aggression against Ukraine, which means that they do not always have the opportunity to prepare in advance motion to postpone the consideration of the case and send it to the court.
The exceptions are cases where all participants in the case have provided written consent to the consideration of the case in their absence, or cases of consideration of the case in the order of written proceedings, or holding a court session via videoconference, provided that the court and all participants in the trial have such a technical capability. and they participate in the trial. At the same time, although the court notifies the participants of the case of the possibility of holding court hearings in the videoconference mode when deciding on the opening of proceedings, we advise you to clarify each time before submitting such a petition whether it is currently possible to ensure that the court session is held in the videoconference mode, in In particular, there is access to the Internet.
With regard to criminal proceedings, on 02.03.2022, the Council of Judges of Ukraine made recommendations on the need to focus on conducting urgent trials (imprisonment, extension of detention) and consider it impossible to postpone court hearings, which should consider the issue of election or extension of the measure of restraint in the form of detention.
How to communicate with courts under martial law
Before filing any petitions, statements on the merits of the case, other procedural documents, we advise you to clarify in a particular court whether its employees have the opportunity to receive postal items at the branch of JSC “Ukrposhta” and whether the court’s electronic box works, since some courts, in connection with the hostilities in territories in which they are located, reported, for example, that their e-mail boxes do not work.
There are also problems with communication with the courts over the phone. So, in areas where active hostilities were fought, telephone communication may be absent due to damage to cables or the work of the court in remote mode. If, nevertheless, it is possible to contact the information center or the office of the court, in order to obtain information about the status of the case, the receipt of new documents, the date of the court session or the receipt of the case from one court to another due to a change in territorial jurisdiction, as mentioned above, it may be denied with reference to the decision of the Council of Judges of Ukraine dated March 25, 2022 No. 11
Given the above, as we see, justice in Ukraine under martial law, although limited, is carried out. We hope that the situation in the country will soon improve, and the courts will be able to fully function, which will allow every citizen to exercise his right to access to court and justice, as well as to protect his violated rights and interests within a reasonable time.
If you have questions about the work of justice, and you are also looking for a lawyer who will represent your interests, you can always contact us!
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