People’s deputies suggest "unfreeze" litigation in civil, administrative and commercial cases
On April 23, the draft law “On Amendments to the Economic Procedure Code of Ukraine, the Civil Procedure Code of Ukraine, the Administrative Procedure Code of Ukraine on the Duration of Procedural Periods during the Quarantine established by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)” (hereinafter – the Draft Law) was registered in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
The draft law provides for the renewal and extension of procedural periods established by law or court for the duration of the quarantine at the request of a case participant or a person who did not participate in the case, if the court decided on his/her rights, interests or obligations. In addition, the procedural periods, which have been earlier extended due to the quarantine, will expire 20 days after the new law enters into force, and during this period the participants of the case and other interested persons may address the court with a request for their extension.
The “Anti-coronavirus” law, adopted on March 30, provides for an automatic extension of procedural periods in of civil, commercial and administrative cases for the quarantine period, which in practice threatened to freeze justice, as reported by the CPLR experts (see political points for March 23-30, 2020). The draft law, which was introduced by the people’s deputies, partially allows to address this problem.
At the same time, the draft law has the potential for improvement:
- it is unclear from the draft law whether the court has the right to decline the request of the case participant, whether it is the sole and unconditional reason for renewal/extension of the time period without the need to give reasons. It is more expedient to establish the authority of the court, upon a substantiated request of the case participant, to recognize a valid reason for missing the time limit or the inability to take the necessary procedural action within the determined period and to renew/extend the period. This reason must be related to quarantine;
- the court may only renew/extend the term for the entire quarantine period, which is unreasonable. The court should be empowered to determine the length of the extension, depending on the nature and validity of the reason given in the statement of the participant.
In addition, as previously recommended by the CPLR experts, it should be foreseen that in cases on administrative and disciplinary offences, the quarantine period is not included in the limitation period and in the procedural periods.
Taking the above into account, it is advisable to support the draft law with a view of its further improvement.