Donors and Implementers of International Projects Discussed the Improvement of Justice Quality and Strategic Reform, as Well as the Results of a Survey on Commercial Dispute Resolution in Ukraine

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is supporting the improvement of the investment climate in Ukraine, including by bettering the commercial dispute resolution system, which directly affects the country’s attractiveness to potential investors, and promotes judicial and constitutional proceedings reform. These were the topics of the meeting of representatives of international assistance projects working in the area of strengthening the rule of law, which took place on July 7, 2021, with the organizational assistance of the USAID New Justice Program.

The participants got acquainted with the Government’s plans to improve the quality of justice to increase investments for Ukraine. Olha Magaletska, Head of the Office of the National Investment Council of Ukraine, presented these plans. According to Ms. Magaletska, potential investors need to be confident in an independent and impartial judiciary; therefore, there is a lot of hope for successful judicial reform in Ukraine and the adoption of bills that would unblock the operation of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges and improve the operation of the High Council of Justice.

According to the presenter, ensuring a transparent and corruption-free justice in parallel with the development of alternative ways of commercial dispute resolution can convince foreign investors of the attractiveness of doing business in our country.

In January-February 2021, with the support of the USAID New Justice Program, a survey of Ukrainian and international companies doing business in Ukraine was conducted regarding the experience of using and the need to resolve commercial disputes (the results of the survey will be available on this site soon). Olha Nikolaieva, the Legal and Judicial Specialist of the USAID New Justice Program, presented the results which were commented on by Patricia Shaughnessy, professor at Stockholm University, former Vice President of the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Crina Baltag, Senior Lecturer at Stockholm University, Former Secretary-General of the Arbitration and Mediation Center of the American Chamber of Commerce in Brazil, and Aleš Zalar, co-chair of the European Center for Dispute Resolution, former Minister of Justice of the Republic of Slovenia.

According to the results of the conducted research, there are some problems in Ukraine – distrust in providers of dispute resolution services and insufficient awareness of business representatives about the possibilities of alternative settlement and resolution of commercial disputes. The survey also revealed that small businesses have minimal access to dispute resolution and are negatively affected by this fact.

In the context of the general discussion on the need to improve the quality of justice and in light of the recently approved by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy the Strategy for the Development of Justice and Constitutional Justice for 2021-2023, MP Serhiy Ionushas also spoke at the meeting. As the Chairman of the Commission on Legal Reform under the President of Ukraine, he shared the story of the Strategy development and his vision of the areas and priorities in cooperation of the Commission headed by him with donors in implementing the Action Plan for the Strategy.

The Strategy pays special attention to resuming the work of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges and improving the work of the High Council of Justice, as well as improving the judicial process through the introduction of digital technologies,” said Mr. Ionushas.

In general, the Strategy outlines the main areas of improving the legislation regarding the introduction of urgent measures to improve citizens’ access to justice; proper work of the jury trial; development of the prosecution agencies and improvement of the Bar; improving the mechanisms for verifying the integrity of judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and their compliance with standards of professional ethics, etc.

Mr. Ionushas also invited international donors to join a separate meeting to be held by the Commission on Legal Reform under the President of Ukraine to develop a roadmap for the implementation of the Strategy, as the practical outcome depends on coordinated cooperation of all stakeholders.

At the end of the coordination meeting, participants had the opportunity to share and discuss their projects’ plans for the near future and identify common work areas.