On April 3, 2020, was held in the High Council of Justice the first coordination meeting on actual issues of the judiciary in the period of quarantine, established by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
It should be reminded that coordination meetings established in the HCJ according to the decision of the Council from March 26, 2020, No. 880/0/15-20 “On access to the justice in the conditions of the pandemic of the acute respiratory disease, caused by coronavirus COVID-19” for the purpose of prompt development by bodies of the system of justice offers regarding the implementation of effective measures, directed on providing the stable operation of courts, bodies of the system of justice in the conditions of the quarantine, established in Ukraine in order to prevent the spread of the acute respiratory disease COVID-19, caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
The participation in the online meeting took the Chairman of the High Council of Justice Andrii Ovsiienko, the Head of the Supreme Court Valentyna Danishevska, the Head of the Council of Judges of Ukraine Bohdan Monich, the Head of the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine Zenovii Kholodniuk, the Head of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on legal policy issues Andrii Kostin.
During the meeting was discussed an issue on the condition of the financing of the system of justice, the algorithm of implementation of the Law of Ukraine “On making amendments to some legal acts of Ukraine, directed on providing the additional social and economic guarantees due to spreading of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)” (№ 540-IX), the necessity of preparation of the clarifications regarding the implementation of amendments to the procedural codec, etc.
It should be reminded that on the eve the High Council of Justice, the Council of Judges of Ukraine addressed the leadership of the state with the request to refrain from adopting decisions regarding the limitation of judge’s remuneration. On March 30, 2020, the High Council of Justice at its extraordinary session adopted an Advisory Opinion to the draft Law of Ukraine “On making amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the State Budget of Ukraine for 2020” (No. 3279). The HCJ addressed the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with the proposal to refrain from adopting provisions that would violate the constitutional guarantees of the independence of judges, and noted the necessity of involvement of bodies of judicial governance to the development of the proposed amendments to the State Budget of Ukraine. The according decision on April 2, 2020, published the Council of Judges of Ukraine also.
Besides, at the session was again stressed the necessity of solving problems of deficit of the state budget for payment to employees of the apparatus of courts and for current expenses.
On the eve the High Council of Justice decided to address publicly to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine regarding the critical situation with the financial provision of courts, other bodies and institutions of the system of justice. The appropriate address was sent to the Government by the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine too.
The Head of the SJA of Ukraine during the coordination meeting emphasized that in 2020 budget assignments on payment to employees of the apparatus of courts comparatively to cash expenditures of 2019 is reduced on 89%. The total deficit of the wages fund in 2020 is 4.8 billion UAH. Budget allocations for current expenditures amount are 444.7 million UAH, which is 61.4% less than in 2019.
It should be reminded that at the expense of means for current payment of services for sending of judicial notifications, posting, purchase of paper, maintenance of premises, office equipment, information systems, jury compensation, etc. Therefore, it is not possible to purchase protection and disinfection means for the quarantine period.
In general, the deficit of a budget for 2020 by main directions of minimal use of funds (remuneration of employees apparatus of courts, accrual of remuneration, current expenses for the administration of justice, operation of existing information systems and establishment of the Integrated Judicial Information System) is 5 472,1 million UAH now.
A critical situation with the financing of courts caused to the occurrence of social pressure among employees of the apparatus of courts and the deficit of disinfection means in the conditions of quarantine.
During the meeting, it was emphasized that due to the pandemic of the coronavirus courts, the functioning of which cannot be stopped, need sharply additional financing as for the remuneration of employees, so for the current expenses.
During the meeting was also discussed the algorithm of implementation of the Law of Ukraine “On making amendments to some legal acts of Ukraine, directed on providing the additional social and economic guarantees due to spreading of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)” (No. 540-IX), published on April 2, 2020.
The Law, in particular, made amendments to the Economic procedural code of Ukraine, the Civil procedural code of Ukraine, the Criminal procedural code of Ukraine, the Code of Administrative Procedure of Ukraine, the Economic code of Ukraine, the Civil code of Ukraine, the Labor code of Ukraine, etc.
The main changes concerning the justice, was solved an issue on the continuation of the procedural terms for the quarantine period, courts got a right to make a decision on limitation the access to the trial of persons who are not the participants of the process during the quarantine. It is determined that during the quarantine the participants of the case can participate in the trial in the videoconferencing mode outside the courtroom using their own technical means. The identity of the person involved in the case will be verified by electronic signature, if person does not have a signature – in the order, determined by the Law of Ukraine “On the Unified state demographic register and documents proving Ukrainian citizenship certifying a person or his special status” or the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine.
As stressed during the meeting the Head of the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine Z. Kholodniuk, according to the adopted this week amendments to procedural codes by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the decision by the High Council of Justice from 26.03.2020, the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine is holding the work on setting up and launching a new video conferencing system that complies with legal requirements (authorization of participants using an electronic-digital signature) and will provide the participation in trials outside the courts using their own technical means. Starting next week, the training of court staff responsible for videoconferencing will begin. It is planned that from the beginning of May 2020 the system will operate in an industrial mode, and judges of all courts will be able to appoint hearings in economic, administrative and civil proceedings in the videoconferencing mode. The new system, specially designed at the request of the SJA of Ukraine, will not only provide communication and authorization of persons-participants of the court hearing, but also automate the process of processing the parties' requests for holding videoconferencing sessions, recording such meetings and keeping minutes of them, as requires procedural law. In addition, the same system will provide already in April the possibility of video reception of citizens by officials of the SJA of Ukraine, its territorial departments and courts.
Department of Information and