Conference on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine

On 7 and 8 October the international conference “Constitutional Control and the Processes of Democratic Transformation in Modern Society“ took place in Kiev on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. It was organised by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine in cooperation with the IRZ, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe and the OSCE project office in Kiev.

A large number of presiding judges and judges from other constitutional courts, many of them from IRZ partner countries, participated in the conference. The conference focused in particular on the role of constitutional jurisdiction in sometimes extremely difficult reform situations. This received much attention, given the fact that in recent months and years the development of democracy and the rule of law had suffered setbacks in some states.

The expert exchange was characterised by an open and problem-oriented discussion. From the German side the former judge at the Federal Constitutional Court Dr. Dieter Hömig, Prof. Dr. Lutz Arnold from the University of Regensburg and Dr. Matthias Hartwig from the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law took part.

The Ukrainian speakers pointed out the model function of German constitutional law several times. The IRZ has been supporting Ukraine for many years not only in the reform of its constitutional law, but also in the drafting of a law on the Constitutional Court, which is currently being revised, and of rules of procedure. With the last amendment of the Ukrainian constitution the instrument of the constitutional complaint was introduced. The IRZ has been asked for advice in this context and is currently playing an important advisory role. The IRZ had several expert talks and has submitted some expert opinions, which are to be followed by more. Now a particular focus must be placed on implementing the constitutional complaint in court practice.

The opening speeches at the conference were given by:

  • Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine
  • Yurii Baulin, Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine,
  • Gianni Buquicchio, President of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe
  • Veronika Keller-Engels, IRZ Director
  • Oleksandr Vodyannikov, representative of the Kiev OSCE Office and
  • Sviatoslav Piskun, former Public Prosecutor General and Chairman of the Union of Lawyers of Ukraine.

New law on enforcement proceedings in Ukraine: Delegation pay a working visit to Bonn

Within the context of the legal reforms of enforcement proceedings, which come into force in Ukraine on 5 October 2016, a working conference was held from 19 to 23 September 2016 at the IRZ offices, bringing together high-ranking representatives of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, including Deputy Minister of Justice Serhij Shkljar. The delegation was welcomed by IRZ Managing Director Veronika Keller-Engels.

The working conference focussed on the texts regulating the implementation of the new laws and on intense discussions between the Ukrainian delegation and the following German experts:

  • Ministerialrat Detlef Wasser from the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV);
  • Jan Laskowski, a local court judge;
  • Hans-Otto Bartels, President of the Regional Court of Aurich and IRZ expert with many years of experience;
  • Helmut Janssen, Bailiff at the High Court of Wittmund.

Even though the German experts take a critical view of the partial privatisation of law enforcement in Ukraine, both sides see the reciprocal exchange of expertise as very fruitful.

The Verhovna Rada adopted two new laws on 2 June 2016, bringing about extensive changes to the law on enforcement proceedings. At the centre of these comprehensive changes is the introduction of a mixed model, which provides for private law enforcement officers as well as state law enforcement officers. By introducing these measures, it is hoped that there will be a significant increase in the efficiency and quality of law enforcement. The IRZ, working in cooperation with the BMJV, has been supporting the reforms in Ukrainian law enforcement for years.

The Ukrainian delegation was primarily interested in the procurement and availability of information about debtors. They were hoping to benefit from the experience of their German colleagues in setting up official registers, which have not been available in Ukraine until now, and in training and educating law enforcement officers. There were also some interesting discussions about the special legal status accorded to selected companies in law enforcement proceedings in Ukraine.

During a final talk between the Deputy Minister of Justice for Ukraine, Serhij Shkljar, and the Deputy Director of the IRZ, Dr. Stefan Hülshörster, both parties agreed that there continues to be a considerable need for support in the field of Ukrainian law enforcement. Together, they have already started to talk about definitive steps for the future of the partnership.

Lectures and discussions for lawyers in Ukraine

On 14 June 2016 a second successful expert discussion took place in Odessa involving the National Lawyers’ Association of Ukraine (NAAU) and the German Federal Bar Association dealing with the issues “access to law” and “free legal assistance”. The first expert discussion which was held in partnership with the IRZ in April this year had covered the issues “regulation of the legal advice market in Germany and Ukraine“ and “professional liability insurance“.

The Federal Bar Association was represented at both expert discussions by lawyer and notary Dr. Ulrich Wessels, Vice-President of the Federal Bar Association and member of the IRZ’s board of trustees, who gave a lecture on the regulation of the legal advice market and the access to law.

Furthermore, the lawyer Bertin Chab and the lawyer and notary Dagmar Beck-Bever, chairwoman of the lawyer’s fees committee of the Federal Bar Association and Vice-President of the Bar Association in Celle gave presentations on lawyer’s policy issues. The Bar Association of Ukraine was represented at the expert discussions by the lawyer Lidiia Izovitova, NAAU President, and her deputy, lawyer Valentyn Gvozdiy.

Both events were financed by the “promoting the rule of law in Ukraine“ project of the Federal Foreign Office and have met with great interest from the Ukrainian side. This is particularly the case as the “part relating to the judiciary” of the draft amendment to the Constitution adopted by Verhovna Rada in early June of this year also envisages a gradual introduction of the lawyer’s monopoly. Even though this development constitutes a major step in the right direction, there are still many problems in Ukraine as regards the legal profession and its self-administration which have not been finally regulated yet.

The issue of a (professional liability) insurance for the services of lawyers is not sufficiently regulated from the German point of view and also meets with scepticism among Ukrainian lawyers. The present regulations on free assistance are moreover in some parts too complex and do not take the Ukrainian reality adequately into consideration. And for that very reason, the professional exchange of the two bar associations on this and other topics, supported by the IRZ, is particularly important to contribute to further reforms in this area and hence to support the legal profession in Ukraine.