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While the formation of the High Council of Justice most of the comments and suggestions of the Venice Commission and the Consultative Council of European Judges were taken into account

21.09.2020

«The creation of the High Council of Justice as it stands is based on European best practices», – noted the Chairman of the High Council of Justice Andrii Ovsiienko, speaking in front of the participants of the webinar «Regulation of work and appointments in judicial bodies - differences in approaches in EU countries», organized by the National School of Judges of Ukraine together with the European Union Advisory Mission.

Representing the composition and structure of the HCJ to foreign colleagues, Andrii Ovsiienko said that the Law of Ukraine "On the High Council of Justice", which entered into force on January 5, 2017, created a qualitatively new body of judicial governance with broad powers. It is called to take care not only of all issues of judicial career, but also of solving problematic aspects in the activity of the judicial system as a whole, to ensure cooperation between all state bodies in the field of justice, to protect the independence of the judiciary and to maintain the high authority of the judiciary in Ukraine.

«As a result, a body free of political influence was created, which, being independent of the legislature and the executive powers, is responsible for the career of judges, which is a guarantee of both the independence of the judiciary in general and the independence of each individual judge in particular», – noted the Chairman of the High Council of Justice.

According to him, in Ukraine was chosen the model of the judicial council, which has a mixed composition with a quantitative predominance of judges elected by their colleagues. After all, the "non-judicial component of the Council", as the Venice Commission once pointed out, is crucial for the effective exercise of its disciplinary powers.

According to Andrii Ovsiienko, while the formation of the High Council of Justice most of the comments and suggestions of the Venice Commission and the Consultative Council of European Judges were taken into account, which makes it possible to assert their compliance with basic European standards.

According to the Law of Ukraine "On the High Council of Justice", the term of office of elected (appointed) members of the HCJ is four years. Since all members of the HCJ are elected (appointed) at different times, it is constantly rotated. So, next spring, a third of the current composition of the High Council of Justice will change. 

According to Andrii Ovsiienko, an extremely important institutional step for the High Council of Justice would be to join the work of such a respected body as European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ). «This is important for sharing experiences and borrowing best practices that can be used in the HCJ activity, and will serve as a significant step in enhancing the institutional capacity of the High Council of Justice», – he noted.

In turn, the Head of the Council of Judges of Ukraine Bohdan Monich raised before foreign experts an equally important issue - the election of chief judges of courts, which is an essential aspect of the functioning of judicial institutions. He noted that the mechanism for electing or appointing judges to administrative positions had also undergone radical changes. However, the current procedure is highly controversial due to its complexity and duration and needs to be analyzed and refined.

The webinar was also attended by Head of the Supreme Court Valentyna Danishevska and the Head of the Supreme Court of Ireland Frank Clark, Head of the appellate court of Ireland George Birmingham, member of the High Judicial Council of Italy Filippo Donati, who highlighted issues related to the functioning of the Judicial Council of Ireland, appointings to the judiciary of Ireland and the activities of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary.