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On 5 and 6 December 2018 a delegation of the Ukrainian Appellate Administrative Court at the Supreme Court visited the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. Its President, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Klaus Rennert, welcomed his Ukrainian colleague Mykhailo Smokovych and eight other judges of the Appellate Administrative Court at the opening of the two-day expert meeting which the guests from Kiev held with the Presiding Judge at the Federal Administrative Court, Prof. Dr. Ingo Kraft, and the Judge at the Federal Administrative Court, Martin Steinkühler. The professional exchange between the German and Ukrainian Administrative Court judges focused on the role of an appellate court and how it works, the procedural law applicable to it as well as an effective and adequate case processing. They also discussed the role and the importance of the Federal Administrative Court as a court of first instance e.g. in major public infrastructure planning procedures.
The Ukrainian delegation had previously met the President of the Administrative Court of Mainz, Dr. Bettina Freimund-Holler, and her Vice-President, Dr. Christof Berthold, for two days of discussions in Mainz. The guests from Ukraine had also attended two hearings at the Administrative Court there. Before the hearings, the President and the Vice-President of the Higher Administrative Court of Rhineland-Palatinate, Dr. Lars Brocker and Dagmar Wünsch, as well as Dr. Stefan Hülshörster, Managing Director of the IRZ, had welcomed the delegation and introduced the professional part of the visit.
With its independent administrative jurisdiction established as early as in 2005, Ukraine plays a pioneering role among the East European states in this branch of courts which is of particular importance for developing the rule of law. Thus, administrative jurisdiction is in the focus of the IRZ’s cooperation with its Ukrainian partners.
In addition, the IRZ has been advising Ukraine for some years on the development of a – long expected – administrative procedure act, which has not yet been adopted. The Ukrainian Ministry of Justice has revived a working group to discuss the draft in partnership with the IRZ again, and the Verhovna Rada will hopefully adopt it soon.
Upon invitation of the IRZ a delegation of the Ukrainian Supreme Court, headed by its President Valentyna Danishevska, visited the Federal Court of Justice and the Higher Regional Court in Karlsruhe for expert talks on 7 August 2018. At the Federal Court of Justice Ms. Danishevska was received by her colleague Bettina Limperg, President of the Federal Court of Justice.
Dr. Eva Menges, Judge at the Eleventh Civil Panel of the Federal Court of Justice, and Dr. Ute Hohoff, Judge at the First Criminal Panel of the Federal Court of Justice, also participated in the expert talks which focussed on the consistency of case law. During the meeting President Danishevska also described impressively the current judicial reform in Ukraine, above all the establishment of the Supreme Court and the strengthening of the judiciary through the new “Law on the Supreme Council of Justice”.
In the afternoon the President of the Higher Regional Court, Alexander Riedel, welcomed the Ukrainian guests at the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe. Further participants in the talks were
Helmut Perron, Vice President of the Higher Regional Court;
Dr. Jens Martin Zeppernick, Presiding Judge at the Higher Regional Court; and
Dr. Julia Kürz, Judge at the Higher Regional Court.
The subjects of these talks were the independence of judges, the tasks of the presiding committee as well as the assignment of functions and the basic right to a lawful judge associated with it.
The importance of this working visit to Karlsruhe by the President of the new Supreme Court, founded in December last year, was also reflected by the participation of the Ukrainian Ambassador, Dr. Andrij Melnyk, as well as the Consul General of Ukraine in Munich,Yurii Yarmilko.
Background information: The restructuring and re-establishment of the Supreme Court was carried out in accordance with the new court constitution law adopted in June 2016, according to which the specialised Supreme Courts (Supreme Administrative Court, Supreme Economic Court, Supreme Court of Justice for Civil and Criminal Matters) were abolished and integrated as courts of appeal into the newly established Supreme Court. The administrative and economic courts of the first and second instance remain. Moreover, the independent administrative courts, which have been in existence in Ukraine since 2005, have now been integrated into the constitution through an amendment also adopted in June 2016.
For the 120 posts for judges (20 per court of appeal) at the new Supreme Court the applicants had to undergo a tough selection procedure, which was to ensure the high qualification and integrity of the judges. After the "Revolution of Dignity” in Maidan Square the trust of the Ukrainian population in the judiciary is also to be improved by this procedure. Therefore, the “Public Integrity Council” as an element of civil society had been involved in the selection procedure and gave a negative vote on some of the candidates.
Finally, on 11 November 2017 114 judges were sworn in. The new court, no longer called “Supreme Court of Ukraine” but merely “Supreme Court”, was opened on 15 December 2017.
From 14 to 19 May 2018, a delegation from the Ministry of Justice for Ukraine was invited by the IRZ to attend a working conference on the implementation of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (HCCA) in Wustrau and Berlin.
Following on from the conference led by the IRZ last year on the “HCCA and Mediation”, this event focussed on the necessary changes to national Ukrainian legislation in connection with the implementation of the HCCA.
The delegation was made up of the head of the department responsible for international agreements, Tamara Andriieva, the responsible section head, Olha Zozulia, and other representatives from the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice. The Ministry for Social Affairs and other authorities affected by the implementation of the HCCA, such as the National Border Service, the legal service of the Supreme Court and the National Police, were also involved.
From the German side, the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV) was represented by Simon Trost and the German Federal Office of Justice, the main authority responsible for the HCCA, was represented by Christian Höhn. The liaison magistrate for the HCCA, Martina Erb-Klünemann, a judge at the Local Court of Hamm, also attended the conference.
The event offered an opportunity for participants to discuss the proposed changes set out in the draft agreement. Following on from the expert discussions with their German colleagues, who reported on the German experience of implementing the HCCA and on the relevant legal regulations, the members of the delegation devoted themselves to working in more depth on their draft texts.
To round off the working week, further concluding talks were held at the BMJV, attended by two heads of division, Senior Government Official Dr. Nicola Wenzel and Chief of Department, Dr. Matthias Heger.
In the past, this German-Ukrainian meeting has led to definitive practical progress in the settlement of child abduction cases in accordance with the HCCA, offering the potential for a direct exchange of expertise between the authorities and people concerned. The work on the changes to legislation should make a further contribution to the effective implementation of the HCCA in Ukraine.