Сurrent State of the Ukrainian Judicial System

The principles of ensuring justice are declared in the Constitution of Ukraine. The main ones are ensuring justice exclusively through courts and the inadmissibility of delegating the functions of courts, as well as appropriation of their functions by other bodies or officials; extension of the jurisdiction of courts for any legal dispute and any criminal charge; the binding nature of judicial decisions on the entire territory of Ukraine.

Today, Ukraine still finds itself on the edge of judicial reform, whose main purpose is to raise the efficiency of the judicial process, combatting corruption in courtrooms and actually creating an independent judicial system.

Ukraine has a three-level system of justice. There are local courts, courts of appeal and the Supreme Court of Ukraine, which is the highest court in Ukraine’s judicial system and which not only delivers justice but also performs the important task of ensuring uniform application of the rules of law by courts of different jurisdictions.

Local courts of first instance are the most numerous. These courts decide on the merits of a case, as they are endowed with the right to establish factual findings of a case via assessment of evidence collected in a case at their own inner conviction. Judgements made by local courts, as a rule, come into force after termination of the term for the appeal or after review of the case in question by a court of appeal if a judgement was not canceled or modified as a result of a review.

Consideration of a particular case by a court depends on the subject matter in a dispute and its nature and is governed, first and foremost, by the relevant codes of procedure (Civil Procedure Code of Ukraine (2004), Commercial Procedure Code of Ukraine (1991), Code of Administrative Justice of Ukraine (2005), Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offenses (1984), Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine (2012), with further amendments and additions.

Commercial courts generally resolve disputes arising from the conduct of economic activity from corporate relations, of a transaction on stakes, securities, rights of ownership or other property rights, cases on appeal against decisions of arbitration courts and other disputes between business entities, cases on the bankruptcy of individuals and legal entities.

The jurisdiction of administrative courts extends to cases on public law disputes, particularly disputes involving individuals or legal entities with subjects of authority regarding the appeal of its decisions (legal acts or individual acts), acts or missions, etc.

Local general courts consider civil, criminal, some administrative cases, cases of administrative infractions. Cases arising from civil, land, labor, family, residential and other legal relations are considered in civil proceedings, except for cases which are considered in the procedure of other legal proceedings. The system of general courts is the most ramified, as they can be created in regions, cities, and city districts.

Courts of second instance are courts of appeal formed in appeal districts. The functions of courts of appeal depend on the specialization of the court and the category of the case in question. As a general rule, the court of appeal reconsiders a case on the evidence it contains as well as additional evidence and verifies the legality and sufficiency of the decision of the court of first instance within the framework of the arguments and requirements of the appeal in question. The decision of the court of appeal comes into force from the moment of its proclamation.

The General Court of Appeal, whose jurisdiction extends to the City of Kyiv, deals with cases on the recognition and granting of permission to execute decisions of international commercial arbitration in Ukraine.

The last and highest instance in the system of courts is the Supreme Court of Ukraine, which started working on 15 December 2017, and is endowed with the right to review court decisions in the order of cassation proceedings. The Supreme Court consists of the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court, the Administrative Court of Cassation, the Commercial Court of Cassation, the Criminal Court of Cassation, the Civil Court of Cassation.

The Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court reviews, in cases determined by law, court decisions in a cassation order so as to ensure the uniform application of the rules of law by courts; act as a court of appellate instance in cases considered by the Supreme Court as a court of first instance; analyzes judicial statistics and studies judicial practice, generalizes court practice.

The Supreme Court continues to address the gaps which previously existed in court practice, to adopt legal conclusions aimed at ensuring the uniformity of court practice in Ukraine and the predictability of court decisions.

The Law of Ukraine On the Judicial System and Status of Judges provides High specialized courts to function in Ukraine. The High Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine began to operate on 5 September, 2019. Its jurisdiction is to consider criminal cases related to corruption crimes investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, as well as cases of recognition of unjustified assets and their recovery for the benefit of state coffers. The High Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine contains the Chamber of Appeal, which is authorized to consider claims against a decision of this court.

The High Court of Intellectual Property was formed on 29 September, 2017 by a decree issued by the President of Ukraine. The competition for judicial vacancies of this court and The Chamber of Appeal, which will function as part of it, is currently under way. According to the intention of lawmakers, this court will hear cases in disputes over intellectual property, rights to such objects and protection against unfair competition.

In Ukraine, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine acts as a body of constitutional jurisdiction, which ensures the supremacy of the Constitution of Ukraine, decides on compliance with the norms of the Constitution of Ukraine, laws, other acts, international treaties to which Ukraine is a party, issues proposals for adoption at an all-Ukrainian referendum at the initiative of the public, provides official interpretation of the Constitution of Ukraine and carries out certain other functions. The Constitutional Court of Ukraine has a Grand Chamber, two senates and six colleges.

Ukrainian courts continue to develop the practice of application of the Bankruptcy Code of Ukraine which came into effect on 21 October, 2019. It is worth recalling that by adopting this Code legislators systematized the rules on the procedure for the recovery of debtors’ solvency and their bankruptcy and also introduced the possibility of the implementation of bankruptcy proceedings against individuals.

A notable change in the system of administrative courts was made through the liquidation of the District Administrative Court of Kyiv and establishment of Kyiv City District Administrative Court in accordance with the Law of Ukraine No. 2825-IX which came into force on 15 December, 2022. Notwithstanding the notice of the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine of 17 March, 2023 on the registration of Kyiv City District Administrative Court, full launch of work of the new court is still awaited. In the meantime, prior to the start of work of the Kyiv City District Administrative Court, all the cases that were pending before the District Administrative Court of Kyiv, are considered and decided by the Kyiv District Administrative Court.

The implementation of “e-justice” is almost complete. In particular, the requirement of the registration of the electronic office in the Unified Judicial Information and Telecommunication System (hereinafter – the UJITS) was introduced for attorneys, notaries, public and private bailiffs, arbitration managers, court experts, state authorities and other state bodies, local self-government bodies, other legal entities by the Law of Ukraine On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Regarding Mandatory Registration and Use of Electronic Offices in the Unified Judicial Information and Telecommunication System or its Separate Subsystem (Module) Ensuring Document Exchange No. 3200-IX that was put into operation on 18 October, 2023.

The amendments to the Commercial Procedure Code of Ukraine, the Civil Procedure Code of Ukraine and the Code of Administrative Procedure of Ukraine provided for by Law No. 3200-IX led to significant development of electronic communications with the court, facilitated the mandatory registration and use of electronic offices in the UJITS by lawyers and legal entities, and also provided an opportunity for a party to send documents through the UJITS to other parties to the case, subject to them having an electronic office.

The forced change of residence of the participants in a case in connection with the military aggression of the russian federation led to an increase in the use of the right to participate in a case via videoconference, which enables the holding of court hearings in the physical absence of a participant in the case in a court room. The participants in a case increasingly participate in hearings online using their own laptops or even smartphones, subject to them being authorized to do so on a special Internet platform using an electronic signature.

General trends associated with changes of the role of courts in litigation are continuing in Ukraine. In particular, courts are increasingly using the status of “arbitrator”, placing the responsibility for committing, or failing to act, on the parties themselves, including in matters of evidence.

Moreover, the Law of Ukraine On Mediation, which came into force on 15 December, 2021 expanded the possibilities for settlement between parties. Previously, procedural legislation provided only for the procedure for dispute settlement with the participation of a judge, under which the court acted as an arbitrator, putting forward to the parties possible ways of reaching a peaceful settlement. From now on, the parties may involve a certified mediator for settlement of a dispute. The court proceedings in a court case are suspended for the period of mediation. The parties can conclude a settlement agreement, submit it to the court for approval and closing of the proceedings on the basis of the results from mediation.

It can be said in overall terms that changes in the Ukrainian Judicial System are improving the mechanism of administration of justice and are consistent with the aim of ensuring effective protection of any right that may have been violated.

  • Oleksandra Fedorenko

    Partner, ANTIKA Law Firm

  • Mykhailo Voitsekhovskyi

    Senior Associate,

    ANTIKA Law Firm



12 Khreschatyk Street, 2nd Floor,

Kyiv, 01001, Ukraine

Tel.: +38 044 390 0920

E-mail: office@antikalaw.com.ua

Web-site: www.antikalaw.com.ua

ANTIKA was established in 2010. Since formation, the Firm has built a strong reputation as an independent law firm and continues to grow in the Ukrainian legal services market. It is in the TOP-15 leading law firms in Ukraine

According to the results of the legal services market researches, held by reputable international and Ukrainian guides to the legal profession The Legal 500 EMEA, Chambers Europe, IFLR1000 Energy and Infrastructure, Best Lawyers, Ukrainian Law Firms, A Handbook for Foreign Clients, 50 Top Law Firms of Ukraine, Client Choice. The Top-100 Best Lawyers in Ukraine the Firm has been recommended in antitrust, dispute resolution, corporate / M&A, banking, finance and capital markets, real estate, land, energy, subsoil use, energy efficiency and energy savings, fixation and compensation of losses caused by the war.

The Firm received Legal Award 2012 in nomination “Law Firm – a Breakthrough of the Year”. The Firm is the Finalist of the Legal Award 2013 in the field of Antitrust, Litigation and Real Estate, in 2014-2016 – in the field of Energy. According to the results of the international research The Legal 500 EMEA 2024, Antika was named a leader in the energy industry and recognized as one of the best in the fields of employment, real estate and construction. The Senior Partner of the Firm, Prof. Dr. Oleksiy Kot received the title “Lawyer of the Year” in the field of litigation according to The Best Lawyers in Ukraine 2020 and was recommended in seven fields according to The Best Lawyers in Ukraine 2022. Oleksiy Kot named as the Best Lawyer in Competition according to the Legal Awards 2015 and got the The best Scientific Principal Award in the framework of the Competition “Lawyer of the Year – 2017”.

The Firm provides a full range of legal services to national and international companies that do business in Ukraine and abroad. The partners of the Firm have over 20 years’ experience in providing business law advice.

ANTIKA’s team has significant experience in various legal practices and provide a full range of legal services to national and international companies that do business in Ukraine, as well as abroad in the following fields: telecommunications, heavy machinery, chemical and food industries, automotive, complex development, construction and real estate, subsoil use, wholesale and retail, media and sports, banks and financial services market, energy efficiency and energy conservation.

The key practices of the Firm include litigation and arbitration, corporate, construction and real estate, subsoil use, energy and energy efficiency, legal expertise, antitrust.

The Firm’s main principles are high quality and timely legal services, strict confidentiality and a bespoke approach to every client’s project.

The company’s clients are Ukrainian and international companies that do business in Ukraine and abroad and work in such industries as telecommunications, heavy, chemical, food industry, automotive industry, subsoil use, integrated development, real estate and construction, wholesale and retail trade, media and sports, the banking sector and the financial services market.

ANTIKA is a member of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, the European Business Association.

The partners of the Firm are members of: the Judicial Reform Council, the Working Group on the updating of Ukrainian civil law, the Scientific and Advisory Council of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, the International Bar Association; the Ukrainian Bar Association.