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Secondment of judges does not solve the problem of staff shortage in the courts, – Oleksii Malovatskyi

23.11.2020

The problem of critical shortage of staff in the courts cannot be solved with the help of such temporary support measures as seconding judges to work in other courts. The High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine must be formed immediately and the selection of judges resumed. This was stated by the Deputy Chairman of the High Council of Justice, commenting on the decision of the Council to return to the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine a notification of the secondment of judges to Zhashkivskyi district court of Cherkasy region.

Currently, only two judges work in the Zhashkivskyi district court. Almost 35,000 people live in the district. Due to the excessive workload, the High Council of Justice on September 15, 2020 began the procedure of seconding two judges to this court and set a ten-day deadline for submitting the necessary documents. No judge agreed to be seconded during this period, so the term was extended until October 26, 2020. Despite the extension, it was not possible to increase the number of judges in this court. According to the Procedure for secondment a judge to another court of the same level and specialization (as a temporary transfer) in the absence of judges who have expressed a desire to be seconded to another court, the notice of the need to consider the judge's secondment is returned to the SJA of Ukraine.

As the HCJ reported, from November 2019 - after the adoption of the Law of Ukraine No. 193-IX "On making amendments to the Law of Ukraine "On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges" and some laws of Ukraine on the activities of judicial governance bodies" the HQCJU was terminated and the selection of judges was blocked. For this reason, today in Ukraine three courts do not work at all (one has no judge, in two others judges have no authority). The outflow of staff continues - since 2017, under general circumstances, 1,053 judges have resigned (including 207 in 2020). The system lacks 30% of judges.

It should be reminded, the Law of Ukraine "On making amendments to the Law of Ukraine " On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges" concerning seconding of judges and settlement of other issues of ensuring the functioning of the justice system in the absence of the authorized composition of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine" establishes, that the HCJ decides without the recommendation or submission of the HQCJU on seconding a judge to another court of the same level and specialization. However, the practice of applying the HCJ provisions of the law in terms of seconding judges to another court indicates the impossibility of fully addressing the problem of staff shortages, ensuring a smooth workload and stable judicial proceedings in separate local courts of general jurisdiction.

In view of the above, it is urgent that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopts the draft law "On making amendments to the Law of Ukraine "On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges" and some laws of Ukraine on the activities of the Supreme Court and judicial governance bodies" (registry No. 3711), which will allow to form the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine, which, in particular, is entrusted with the functions of selecting judges.