Project : Transparency and efficiency of the Judicial System of Ukraine (TEJSU)

Justice and Legal Co-operation Department

Title Transparency and efficiency of the Judicial System of Ukraine (TEJSU)
Project area Ukraine
Budget EUR 6 000 000
Funding 10% by the CoE and 90% by the EU
Implementation Legal and Human Rights Capacity Building Department (LHRCB)
Duration 01/06/2008 - 02/06/2011 (36 months)

Overall objective:
To assist with the establishment of an independent, impartial, efficient and professional judiciary in Ukraine, and to ensure that the Ukrainian judiciary is transformed into a transparent and fair judicial system that is accessible to all citizens, working effectively and transparently vis-à-vis citizens and civil society.

Specific objectives:

  • Legal framework for a transparent, accessible and efficient judiciary established. Legal framework on the judiciary is brought in line with European standards
  • Judiciary system accessible to all.
    Court rulings, prosecution decisions and procedural information accessible to the public
    Legal aid system established
    Lawyers profession organised in a transparent and unified manner
  • Efficiency of the judicial system strengthened and quality of judicial decisions corresponding to European standards.
    Administrative organisation of courts and case management strengthened
    Financing system of the courts is improved
    Initial and continuous training system for judges and prosecutors becomes efficient
    Legislation for Alternative Dispute Resolution is in place and institutionalised
  • Transparency and accountability of the judicial system increased.
    Increased accountability of members of the judiciary (judges, prosecutors, lawyers, etc.) regarding integrity and ethical standards
    Clarity of judicial procedures at all stages is reinforced and confidence of the population in the judiciary is strengthened.

Outputs and results and possible follow up

The reform of the judiciary was one of the major commitments undertaken by Ukraine when it joined the CoE on 9 November 1995. Since then, a number of co-operation programmes, including joint initiatives with the EU, aimed at building an effective and transparent national judicial system. The present project has been one of the milestones on this way. 2010 was an important year since it was the last full year of the project’s implementation. The project will end on 2 June 2011. The project continued providing, in close co-operation with all partners and beneficiaries, assistance to the Ukrainian authorities on the reform of the judiciary.

Although the uncertain political situation in the first few months of 2010 slowed down the process of judicial reform, the newly elected President and the new Government of Ukraine made it their priority to speed up the reform of the judicial system. As a consequence, the project activities for providing the Ukrainian institutions with expert advice on judicial reform, in particular concerning the legislative framework, were particularly timely and relevant. Given the adoption of the latest legislation in May and July (Law of Ukraine No. 2181-VI on amending certain legislative Acts of Ukraine in relation to the prevention of abuse of the right to appeal and the Law on the Judiciary and the Status of Judges), the project focused on supporting the priorities and requests of its Ukrainian counterparts, in particular as regards the preparation of the legal expertises for both laws, jointly with the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission).

A major result achieved by the project is related to the drafting of the legislation on automatic case-management system in Ukrainian courts. The project, along with its Ukrainian counterparts, prepared a draft regulation, commonly agreed, which was adopted and took effect on 1 January 2011. This regulation helps to make the courts’ work more efficient and transparent. In addition, a list of categories of cases and levels of their complexity was drawn up within the framework of the project. The implementation of those documents allows the further specialisation of judges, based on objective criteria, and provides an efficient and realistic tool for the evaluation of the workload and allocation of resources between courts. This will contribute to an efficient administrative organisation of the judicial system.

The project also started improving the system of funding for the judicial system. Both judicial and governmental institutions emphasised their interest in the results in this area and requested the project’s assistance.

The implementation in a short period of time of new additional activities requested by the stakeholders, such as training for judges on the application of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), as well as the organisation of a conference on judicial education, proved to be viable and successful for promoting European human rights standards and their domestic application by legal professionals. The project managed to bring together, for the first time under the same umbrella, the key stakeholders: the Academy of Judges and the Academy of Prosecutors. This has resulted in their dialogue and improved co-operation.

As a tool of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), mediation was included by the project on the map for Ukrainian citizens and authorities. Mediation was successfully introduced in four pilot courts around the country (Bila Tzerkva City Court of Kyiv Region, Vinnitsa Circuit Administrative Court, Appeal Administrative Court of Donetsk Region and Ivano-Frankivsk City Court) as a means for decreasing the number of cases in the courts, as well as strengthening the judicial efficiency. The project organised in-depth training on mediation focusing on skills and tools for judges to carry out mediation in cases assigned to them. Mediation has proved to be an important indicator of the project’s success.

The Local Area Networks (LANs) and the Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) in the courts of Ukraine have been key initiatives under the project. On the one hand, the purchased LAN equipment resulted in establishment of necessary internal networks in all courts of general jurisdiction throughout Ukraine. Such infrastructure was necessary for the subsequent mass computerisation of the courts. On the other hand, the VPNs aimed at providing remote offices with a secure access to their organisational networks. Thus, the beneficiaries have been provided with necessary equipment to establish a proper link between the central judicial authorities and local courts.

During 2010, capacity building for the main beneficiaries of the project continued to be a priority within the framework of all project objectives. The Project Team assisted them through institutional support to overcome differences and to facilitate a dialogue. It also enhanced networking and the exchange of information through participating in conferences, seminars and training activities organised by other donors.

2011 will be the last year of implementation of this challenging project. It will be important to ensure that the legislative reforms adopted in 2010 are effectively implemented and that Ukraine continues to benefit of the CoE experience in promoting support to its member states so that they can achieve an independent, efficient and transparent judiciary. Focus will be put on reinforcing the national capacities for the reform of the judicial system, and in particular supporting the Academy of Prosecutors and the future National School of Judges through series of targeted activities including improvement of the regulatory frameworks for their functioning.