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The Verkhovna Rada Restarts Judicial Reform with Some Remaining Shortcomings – Roman Kuibida

The Draft Law No. 1008 “On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine Regarding the Activity of Judicial Bodies” adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on October 16, which envisages restarting the judicial reform, has both positive and negative aspects. This opinion was expressed by an expert of the RPR Coalition, a member of the board of the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform, Roman Kuibida.

The advantages of the draft law, according to Roman Kuibida: 

  1. Formation of a new High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ) by a selection committee consisting of 3 members of the Council of Judges and 3 representatives of the international community;
  2. Establishment of an Ethics Commission (3 members of the High Council of Justice and 3 representatives of the international community) that will have the authority to dismiss current members of the HCJ, as well as to verify HCJ prospective members;
  3. The Ethics Commission will become a disciplinary body for the judges of the Supreme Court;
  4. Reduction of salaries for the members of the HCJ, the HQCJ and the Supreme Court
  5. Termination of the powers of the current HQCJ, which left most unscrupulous judges in office.

At the same time, the draft law has the following disadvantages:

  1. Halving the number of Supreme Court justices under a procedure unregulated by the law without any mechanisms to reduce their workload;
  2. “Freezing” of current competitions for vacant positions in the courts due to the termination of the powers of the current HQCJ, which will preserve the existing “personnel gap”;
  3. Formation of a new HQCJ and dismissal of HCJ members will in fact depend on the Kyiv District Administrative Court;
  4. The composition of the new HQCJ will be reduced from 16 to 12 people, which will slow down the resolution of personnel problems in the judicial system.

One of the risks of the draft law passed mentioned by Roman Kuibida is that the new HQCJ would consist exclusively of lawyers with at least 15 years of experience, i.e., in fact, representatives of the old judicial system, which needs to be reformed.

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