On 30 March 2020 Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Law of Ukraine "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts Aimed at Providing Additional Social and Economic Guarantees Due to Spreading of Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019)" (Bill No. 3275).
The Law, among other things, made amendments to the procedural codes, designed to regulate the procedure for holding court hearings during the quarantine period.
In particular, the changes address the following issues:
(1) Access to courtrooms.
The Law allows courts in commercial and civil cases to restrict access to the courtroom to persons who are not parties of the trial, but if there is a threat to the life or health of persons.
The new edition of the codes does not regulate how and by which criteria a court will assess the existence of threats to person's life and health.
The Law also does not entitle the court to restrict the access to a courtroom to those who are parties to the trial.
Therefore, the adopted Law does not limit the right of companies and other litigants to participate in a court hearing.
(2) Court hearings via videoconference.
Parties may attend a court hearing via videoconference outside the courtroom.
The new provision provides following options for verifying a participant's identity:
First option – electronic signature.
Second option – in the absence of an electronic signature, the identification of a person shall be carried out in accordance with the procedure established by the Law of Ukraine "On the Unified State Demographic Register and Documents Confirming the Citizenship of Ukraine, Certifying the Person or His Special Status" or the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine.
The adopted novelty does not clarify, which hardware and software are sufficient to remote identification of the participants. Therefore, the parties and the court will have to find a way out of this situation on their own using different channels of communication.
(3) Extension of terms for performing procedural actions by participants.
Amendments to the legislation are automatically extended almost all procedural deadlines until quarantine expires, such as for: filing statements and motions for litigants, considering cases and suspension of proceedings, appealing court decisions and opening proceedings, etc.
In administrative process there was also increased the time limit for applying to court.
Thus the adopted edition does not suspend the justice in general, but provides more time for procedural actions that can be used by the participants of the case, including using it in bad faith (e.g. to delay proceeding).
All these novelties are introduced for the quarantine period established by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and will not be applied after its completion.
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