Justices of the High Anti-Corruption Court Discussed the Application of the Rule of Law Principle in Practice

On April 19, 2019, a three-week orientation program for newly appointed justices of the High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC) and its Appellate Chamber has come to a close. The training was organized by the National School of Judges with the support of international donors – the USAID New Justice Program, EU Anti-Corruption Initiative (EUACI), EU Project “Pravo – Justice”, EU Advisory Mission (EUAM), “Support to Judicial Reform Project” Canada and International Development Law Organization (IDLO) .

As a closing activity, the participants discussed modern approaches to understanding the rule of law and its application in the administration of justice.

The discussion was moderated by Vice-Rector of the National School of Judges Volodymyr Mazurok. The Constitutional Court Justice, Serhiy Holovaty, took an active part in the event. Justice Holovaty consistently and in great detail explained the origins of the rule of law, its evolution as a phenomenon and difficulties in the understanding of the rule of law by Ukrainian lawyers given the Soviet time experience when rule by law prevailed. The participants focused on the correlation of the principle of legality with other elements of the rule of law, the notion of legal certainty and judicial independence in light of the provision that stipulates judge’s criminal liability for a knowingly unlawful decision.

According to Serhiy Holovaty, intentional unlawfulness of decisions as a criterion for assessing the quality of a court decision is a consequence of “socialist legal thinking” and “should be removed from legislation”. The decision may be legal or not, well-reasoned or unjustified, but not knowingly unlawful, or not,”- he emphasized during the discussion. He also explained why the Ukrainian term for the rule of law “pravovladdia” is more acceptable in contrast to the term “verkhovenstvo prava”. It contributes to the universal understanding of the respective legal doctrine stating that there is rule of law and not the rule of man.

This discussion contributed to a better understanding by HACC and its Appellate Chamber justices of the importance of a unified practical application of the rule of law principle while exercising judicial power. At the end of the event, participants of the training program received certificates.

The National School of Judges will continue to work with justices in the format of regular thematic professional development programs.