The Council of Judges of Ukraine approved recommendations on the special quarantine regime. Most of the recommendations are reasonable, but some of them are against the law, – the CPLR experts believe
On March 17, the Council of Judges of Ukraine approved recommendations on the special quarantine regime for the courts. Earlier, this initiative was made by the Chairman of the Council of Judges of Ukraine B. Monich, who sent a letter to all courts with similar recommendations on March 16.
In accordance with the decision of the Council of Judges of Ukraine, for the period from March 16 to April 3, courts are recommended to introduce the following measures:
- explain to citizens the possibility of postponing the consideration of cases in connection with quarantine measures and the possibility of hearing cases in videoconference mode;
- suspend all activities, which are not related to the court's procedural activities and ensuring the activities of the judiciary (roundtables, seminars, open days, etc.);
- suspend the personal reception of citizens by the court management;
- limit access of persons who are not parties of court proceedings to court sessions;
- limit access to court sessions and court premises of persons with symptoms of respiratory diseases: pale face, redness of eyes, cough;
- make the court case materials available to the participants of the proceedings remotely, if there is a technical possibility to do so, by sending scanned copies of the court case materials to the e-mail specified in the respective application, to receive the notifications of acquaintance through remote communication channels;
- reduce the number of court sessions for consideration of cases that are scheduled during the working day;
- where possible, to hear cases without participation of the parties, by written procedure;
- judges and the court staff having at least the slightest signs of illness should take the self-isolation measures, inform the relevant health care institution and the court management by telephone, e-mail.
In addition, the Council of Judges of Ukraine recommends that citizens and other persons:
- submit all necessary documents (claims, statements, complaints, withdrawals, explanations, petitions, etc.) electronically to the court's e-mail address, via a personal account in the E-court system, by mail, fax or remote communication means;
- participants of court sessions should submit to courts their applications to hear cases in their absence on the basis of available case materials;
- refrain from visiting court premises, especially in the presence of illness (weakness, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, etc.).
The CPLR considers the efforts of the Council of Judges of Ukraine aimed at protecting the population and court employees from spreading a dangerous infectious disease are timely.
According to the CPLR expert Maksym Sereda, the recommendations to suspend all activities, which are not directly related to the administration of justice, to acquaint the case participants with the case materials remotely (online), to refrain from attending court in case of signs of illness by both employees and consumers of court services are reasonable.
Proposals to reduce the number of court sessions that are scheduled during one day, to explain to citizens the possibility to request a postponement of court proceedings, to consider cases in written procedure if there are legal grounds for this, are also rational. At the same time, the CPLR experts consider that the most effective way would be to postpone consideration of civil, commercial and administrative cases for the period of quarantine (except for urgent cases). This is because of the fact that the parties will not be able to fully enjoy their procedural rights in case of a mass hearing of the cases by means of written procedure.
In addition, the Council of Judges of Ukraine should refrain from making recommendations that are directly contrary to the law. In particular, the proposal to limit the access of persons who are not parties of the proceedings to the court sessions is not in line with the law. Pursuant to part 3 of Article 11 of the Law of Ukraine “On Judicial System and Status of Judges”, the court proceedings are open, except in cases established by law. Any person may be present at an open court session. Therefore, as the expert observes, there is currently no legal basis for limiting the admission of citizens to open court sessions. They can only be recommended to refrain from attending court.
According to Maksym Sereda, the CPLR expert, it is also illegal to recommend that persons with respiratory symptoms (paleness, eyes’ redness, cough) should not be allowed to court premises. After all, any of these signs does not necessarily indicate the presence of the disease. Attempting to put such approaches into practice can lead to numerous abuses, since it is unclear, who and in what way will decide whether to allow a person to enter the court promise.