On 18 October 2023, the Law of Ukraine "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Mandatory Registration and Use of Electronic Offices in the Unified Judicial Information and Telecommunication System (UJITS) or its separate subsystem (module) that provides for the exchange of documents" No. 3200-IX dated 29 June 2023 (hereinafter - the Law) was enacted. The Law amends the provisions of the procedural codes, in particular the Civil Procedure Code of Ukraine (hereinafter - the CPC).
The Law, inter alia, provides that starting from 18 October 2023, attorneys, notaries, public and private enforcement officers, insolvency officers, forensic experts, state and local authorities and other legal entities shall have an electronic account in the UJITS. Thus, registration in the UJITS remains voluntary only for individuals, and they are not required to have an electronic cabinet.
From now on, any procedural document submitted to the court must contain information on the presence or absence of an electronic cabinet of a party to the case. If a person who is obliged to register an electronic cabinet but has not fulfilled his or her obligation applies to the court, the documents of such a person will be left without movement by the court or returned, depending on the type of procedural document. For example, if a response to a statement of claim is filed by a person who is obliged to register an electronic cabinet but has not fulfilled such an obligation and has not provided valid reasons for its failure, the court has the right to decide the case on the basis of the available materials, i.e., to disregard the information contained in the response.
Upon entry into force of the Law, subpoenas, summonses, copies of court decisions and court orders will be sent to the electronic accounts of the parties to the case, and if the party does not have an electronic account (in the case of individuals), the documents will continue to be sent by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt or by registered mail.
Mandatory registration of litigants in the electronic cabinet will allow courts to send notices and summonses to litigants electronically. This, in turn, will optimize budget expenditures on paper, postage stamps, envelopes, stationery, etc. In addition, the electronic procedure for sending notifications will relieve the workload of court staff and significantly reduce the time for receiving court documents (almost instantly after sending). At the same time, the parties to the cases are not deprived of the right to receive copies of court decisions in paper form, upon a separate application.
Separately, the Law introduced amendments to the Civil Procedural Code of Ukraine regarding the grounds for leaving a claim without consideration (Article 257(1)(3) of the Civil Procedural Code of Ukraine). From now on, the court may leave the claim without consideration in case of repeated failure of the plaintiff to appear not only at the court hearing, but also at the preparatory hearing. Prior to the Law's entry into force, the Code of Civil Procedure of Ukraine stipulated that repeated failure to appear at a court hearing was a ground for leaving a claim without consideration. The previous approach led to delays in the consideration of cases, as the courts could not leave the claim without consideration due to the repeated failure of the plaintiff to appear at the stage of preparatory proceedings. This legislative gap has now been eliminated.
Thus, the amendments introduced by the Law are justified and appropriate, aimed at introducing modern electronic record keeping in courts, electronic case management, and electronic communications with courts. At the same time, the practice of law enforcement may reveal certain problems related to the implementation of such changes in the work of courts and the conduct of court proceedings. It will soon be possible to summarize the first interim conclusions on the effectiveness of the introduced changes.