Law of Ukraine

"On the Judicial System and Status of Judges"

Date of entry into force:
August 3, 2010

The Law determines the legal principles of the organization of judicial power and administration of justice in Ukraine in order to protect the human and citizen rights, freedoms and legitimate interests, rights and legitimate interests of legal entities, and the interests of the state, based on the principle of the supremacy of law; determines the system of courts of general jurisdiction, the status of a professional judge, a people's assessor and a juryman, the system and procedure for judiciary self-government; and establishes the system and general procedure for providing for court work, and regulates other issues related to the judicial system and status of judges.

According to Article 1 of the Law, the judicial power of Ukraine, according to the constitutional principles of division of power, is exercised by independent and impartial courts created according to the Law. Judicial proceedings are carried out by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and courts of general jurisdiction.

According to Article 3 of the Law, the court system of Ukraine consists of courts of general jurisdiction and the court of constitutional jurisdiction.

Article 7 of the Law establishes that everyone is guaranteed protection of their rights, freedoms and legitimate interests by an independent and impartial court created according to the law.

Article 15 of the Law envisages that cases in courts are reviewed in courts, by a sole judge and, in cases determined by the procedural legislation, by a panel of judges, as well as with participation of people's assessors and jurymen. A judge reviewing a case alone acts as a court.

Article 17 of the Law states that the system of courts of general jurisdiction, according to the Constitution of Ukraine, is built based on the principles of territoriality, specialization and instance.

The system of courts of general jurisdiction consists of:
  • local courts;
  • courts of appeal;
  • supreme specialized courts;
  • the Supreme Court of Ukraine.

According to Article 19 of the Law, courts of general jurisdiction are created and liquidated by the President of Ukraine as advised of the Minister of Justice of Ukraine, based on a suggestion of the head of the appropriate supreme specialized court.

Local general courts are district courts, municipal district courts, city courts and city district courts. City economic courts are economic courts of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the regions, the cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol. Local administrative courts are district administrative courts, and other courts provided for by the procedural law (Article 21 of the Law).

Article 26 of the Law envisages that the system of courts of general jurisdiction includes courts of appeal that act as courts of the appeal instance for reviewing civil, criminal, economic and administrative cases, and cases of administrative offences.

A court of appeal:
  • reviews cases of the appropriate court jurisdiction according to the appeal procedure, in accordance with the procedural law;
  • in cases provided for by the procedural law, reviews cases of appropriate court jurisdiction as the first instance court;
  • analyzes judicial statistics, studies and summarizes court practice;
  • provides methodical assistance to local courts on the application of the legislation;
  • exercises other authority determined by the law.

Article 31 of the Law envisages that the system of courts of general jurisdiction includes supreme specialized courts, acting as courts of the cassation instance for reviewing civil, criminal, economic and administrative cases. The supreme specialized courts are:
  • the Supreme Specialized Court of Ukraine for Civil and Criminal Cases;
  • the Supreme Economic Court of Ukraine;
  • the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine.

According to Article 32 of the Law, a Supreme Specialized Court:
  • reviews cases of the appropriate court jurisdiction according to the cassation procedure, in accordance with the procedural law;
  • in cases provided for by the procedural law, reviews cases of appropriate court jurisdiction as the first instance court or the court of appeal;
  • analyzes judicial statistics, studies and summarizes court practice;
  • provides methodical assistance to courts of lower levels to ensure unified application of the norms of the Constitution and the Laws of Ukraine in judicial practice, based on the summarized and analyzed judicial statistics; provides courts of lower levels with explanatory recommendations in the issues of applying the legislation to resolve cases of the appropriate court jurisdiction.

According to Article 38 of the Law, the Supreme Court of Ukraine is the supreme judicial body in the system of courts of general jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court of Ukraine includes twenty judges five judges from each specialized jurisdiction (civil, criminal, economic, and administrative), from which the Head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine and his deputy are elected.

Article 45 of the Law establishes that the Plenum of the Supreme Court of Ukraine is a collegial body. The Plenum of the Supreme Court of Ukraine includes all judges of the Supreme Court of Ukraine.

In his/her judicial activity, a judge is free of any illegitimate influence, pressure or interference (Article 47 of the Law).

Article 48 of the Law envisages that a judge is untouchable. A judge cannot be detained or arrested before a verdict of conviction, except by approval of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

Article 49 of the Law envisages that expression of disrespect towards the court or the judge on behalf of the participants of the process or the persons present at the court hearing results in liability established by the law.

A judge is a citizen of Ukraine who has been appointed or elected as a judge according to the Constitution of Ukraine and the Law, holds a full-time judicial position in one of the courts of Ukraine, and professionally administers justice (Article 51 of the Law).

According to Article 57 of the Law, a people's assessor is a citizen of Ukraine who, in cases determined by the procedural legislation, reviews cases as part of the court, together with the judge, ensuring direct participation of the people in the administration of justice, according to the Constitution of Ukraine.

According to Article 64 of the Law, a person can be recommended for the position of a judge if they are a citizen of Ukraine, at least twenty-five years old, with a higher education in the legal field, and a minimum of three years of work experience in the legal field, residing in Ukraine for a minimum of ten years and fluent in the national language.

The following citizens cannot be recommended for the position of a judge:
  • declared partially or fully legally incapable by court;
  • persons with chronic psychical or other diseases that interfere with fulfilling obligations of a judge;
  • persons with criminal record that has not been cleared or removed.

Article 67 of the Law establishes that first appointment of a judge is carried out exclusively according to the procedure established by the Law and includes the following stages:
  • an announcement is published by the Supreme Judge Qualification Commission of Ukraine publishes on its web portal, announcing a call for candidates for the position of a judge, taking into consideration the forecasted number of vacant judge positions; the announcement is published in the Golos Ukrainy or Uryadoviy Kurier newspapers;
  • persons wishing to become judges submit an appropriate application and documents determined by the Law to the Supreme Judge Qualification Commission of Ukraine;
  • the Supreme Judge Qualification Commission of Ukraine, based on the documents submitted by judge candidates, inspects the correspondence of the applicants to the requirements for judge candidates, and organizes a special inspection in their respect;
  • persons that meet the established requirements to judge candidates take an examination before the Supreme Judge Qualification Commission of Ukraine in order to demonstrate the level of their general theoretical knowledge in the legal field;
  • the candidates who have successfully passed the exam and the appropriate inspections are sent to special training;
  • the candidates who have successfully completed the special training are allowed to take the qualification exam before the Supreme Judge Qualification Commission of Ukraine;
  • the Supreme Judge Qualification Commission of Ukraine determines the rating of judge candidates based on the qualification exam results and includes them in the reserve for filling vacant judge positions;
  • in case vacant judge positions are open, the Supreme Judge Qualification Commission of Ukraine announces a competition for filling such positions among the candidates included in the reserve;
  • based on the candidate's rating and according to the number of vacant judge positions, the Supreme Judge Qualification of Ukraine selects a candidate from the number of candidates who took part in the competition, and submits its recommendation on appointing the judge candidate to the Supreme Council of Justice;
  • the Supreme Council of Justice, based on the recommendation of the Supreme Judge Qualification Commission of Ukraine, reviews the issue of appointing the judge candidate at its meeting, and, in case of a positive decision, submits a recommendation to appoint the judge candidate, to the President of Ukraine;
  • the President of Ukraine makes a decision to appoint the judge candidate to the position of a judge.

According to Article 74 of the Law, the judge whose term of authority has expired can be, at their application, recommended by the Supreme Judge Qualification Commission of Ukraine to be elected as a permanent judge, in case of absence of any circumstances that prevent it, according to the Law.

Chapter V of the Law regulates ensuring the appropriate qualification level of a judge.

The National School of Judges of Ukraine is a state institution with a special status that provides for educating highly qualified staff for the judicial system, and carries out scientific and research activity. The legislation on higher education does not apply to the National School of Judges of Ukraine.

Article 83 of the Law envisages that a judge can be brought to disciplinary liability in the course of a disciplinary proceeding.

A disciplinary proceeding in respect of a judge is carried out by:
  • the Supreme Judge Qualification Commission of Ukraine in respect of judges of local courts and courts of appeal;
  • the Supreme Council of Justice in respect of judges of specialized courts and judges of the Supreme Court of Ukraine.

According to Article 90 of the Law, the Supreme Judge Qualification Commission of Ukraine is a legal entity, with a seal including the State Coat of Arms of Ukraine and its name, an individual balance sheet, and accounts in the bodies of the State Treasury of Ukraine.

Article 101 of the Law establishes that a judge is dismissed from his position by the President of Ukraine.

Issues of internal activity of the courts in Ukraine are resolved through judicial self-government the process of independent collective resolution of the above issues by the judges (Article 113 of the Law).

The supreme body of judicial self-government is the meeting of judges of Ukraine.

According to Article 129 of the Law, the judge's compensation consists of their official salary and bonuses for:
  • period of service;
  • holding an administrative position in court;
  • scientific degree;
  • work requiring access to the state secret.

Article 136 of the Law establishes that a retired judge receives a severance pay amounting to 10 monthly salaries effective for their latest position.

Financing and appropriate conditions for the functioning of the courts and the work of the judges are provided for by the state according to the Constitution of Ukraine (Article 140 of the Law).

Article 145 of the Law determines that the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine provides for administrative support of the work of judicial power bodies with the scope of authority established by the legislation. The State Judicial Administration of Ukraine reports to the meeting of judges of Ukraine.

According to Article 149 of the Law, the organizational support of the work of the court is provided by the court staff, headed by the head of staff.
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