Launch of New Judicial Reform

sudoustriy

On June 2, 2016, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has adopted a new Law of Ukraine “On the Judicial System and Status of Judges”. In turn, the effective law expires upon entry into force of the new regulatory legal act.

The proposed law stipulates changes to be made to the Ukrainian judicial system. The latter system shall consist of:

  • local,
  • appeal courts,
  • the Supreme Court.

Superior specialized courts shall act in the capacity of the first-instance courts regarding consideration of certain types of cases. In particular, there shall be:

  • the Supreme Court on Intellectual Property
  • the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court.

In addition, instead of the four courts of cassation a new single Supreme Court will be established, with:

  • the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court, 
  • Administrative Court of Cassation, 
  • Commercial Court of Cassation, 
  • Criminal Court of Cassation and 
  • Civil Court of Cassation being a part thereof.

It should be emphasized that judicial reform will be implemented gradually. District, inter-district and municipal courts shall continue exercising their powers and authority until the local district court, which jurisdiction extends over relevant territory, starts working.

Furthermore, provisions have been made regarding modifications to the regulations with respect to requirements imposed on a person applying for judicial seat. Position of the judge can be held by competent Ukrainian citizen, being not younger than thirty years old and not older than sixty-five, having law degree and at least 5 years of professional experience in the field of law, and fluently speaking the official language.

In addition, changes shall be made to the size of the judges’ official salaries. Beginning January 1, 2017 and each year thereafter until January 1, 2020 the size of the salary will increase. For example, as of January 1, 2017 the salary assigned to the position of a district judge will amount to 15 minimum wages, and - 30 times minimum wages as of January 1, 2020.

The proposed law partially alters the guarantee of the judge’s full immunity. Without the consent of the High Council of Justice, the judge cannot be arrested, taken into or held in custody before the judgement of conviction is passed. The only exception for this is if the judge is arrested during or immediately after committing grave or especially grave crime.

In an effort to bring the judge’s standards of living in line with property owned by him/her and his/her family members, as well as received income, judge’s way of life will be closely monitored. Pursuant to the provisions of the new law, every judge will be under obligation to annually file a declaration of family ties and declaration of integrity by February 1 of the current year.

It is important to note that on the same day, specifically June 2, 2016, the Parliament has registered a draft decree on revocation of the decision of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine dated June 2, 2016 regarding adoption of the draft law on judicial system and status of judges. As of June 3, 2016 the draft decree has not been published.

Automotive Industry De-shadowing

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On May 31, 2016, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine promoted the bill on tax reduction by customs clearing of second-hand vehicles. 237 people’s deputies voted for lowering the tax rates.

Thanks to the passed bill, the vehicles will become more affordable which, in turn, will allow improving the standard of living of the Ukrainian citizens.

Pursuant to the Bill No.3251, excise tax applied to the vehicles intended for transportation of persons, including light vans and racing cars shall be significantly reduced.

For example, tax rate applicable to the vehicles with engine capacity of not more than 1,000 cm3 is EUR 0.102 per 1 cm3 and EUR 2.209 per 1 cm3 for vehicles with engine capacity exceeding 3,000 cm3 respectively.

However, it must be noted that the law has a number of limitations. According to its provisions, the reduced excise tax rates shall not apply to the light vehicles, should they:

  • be manufactured prior to January 1, 2010;
  • originate from a country which is recognized as the occupier and/or aggressor state in relation to Ukraine under the Ukrainian laws or is imported from the said occupier/aggressor state and/or occupied territory of Ukraine defined as such by the Ukrainian legislation;
  • be imported into the customs territory of Ukraine by an individual for personal use or to the benefit of other persons pursuant to sale and purchase, exchange, delivery, gift, commission, agency, guarantees agreements, other economic and civil law contracts or under a court decision, in the amount exceeding one vehicle during the calendar year.

Ukraine and the US Concluded Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement

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On May 23, 2016, the Governments of Ukraine and the United States signed the Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement.

Prior to signing of this document, Ukraine and the United States have collaborated in the customs sector by virtue of an agreement signed back in the Soviet era, in 1990.

Agreement dated May 23, 2016 provides for simplification of the procedure for exchange of information required to prevent, investigate and combat the customs offenses infringing the economic interests of both countries.

Given the US’ successful experience in improving customs procedures and providing further training for employees of the customs authorities, the Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement will propel efficient reforming and modernization of Ukraine’s customs authorities.