Electronic court of Ukraine – 2022. Achievements and perspectives.
Electronic court of Ukraine – 2022. Achievements and perspective
Electronic court of Ukraine – 2022. Achievements and perspectives
How Ukraine differs from its enemy? The answer is unambiguous – completely! We don’t want to live in the past and strive for new horizons and perspectives. Ukrainians are smart and modern people keeping pace with the time. State development activities of Ukraine reflect this trend also. Electronic court and its integration with the IT sphere deserve special attention as it is gradually approaching European standards.
To start, let’s go five years back, to the year 2017 which laid the basement for the further establishment of the electronic court proceeding.
The Law of Ukraine № 2147-VIII “On Changes to Economic Proceeding Code of Ukraine and other Regulations”  (the Law of Ukraine № 2147-VIII) came into force to start the procedural reform.
Among many changes, the Law of Ukraine № 2147-VIII predetermined the creation of the Unified Court Information and Telecommunication System (hereinafter the UCITS). In simple terms, UCITS enables us to transfer the majority of court proceedings stages into a digital mode. Joining key instruments and services related to the court proceeding is among the key objectives of the system. For instance, the exchange of documents in the e-mode between the court and a participant of the proceeding, providing electronic pieces of evidence, participation in a court proceeding through a videoconference, etc.
Since the UCITS is an aggregate of informational and telecommunication subsystems including many modules and requiring stage-by-stage implementation, stability, and adequate financial and technical support, the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine (SJAU) decided to postpone its full-range start . On the contrary, the “Corona-crisis” of 2020 forced us to accelerate the mentioned processes.
So, the next steps occurred on May 26, 2021, when the Law of Ukraine № 1416-IX “On Changes to Some Regulations to Ensure the Stage-by-Stage Implementation of the UCITS” (the Law of Ukraine 1416-IX)  and on August 17, 2021, when the Highest Justice Council by its Resolution № 1845/0/15-21 (as amended)  approved the Regulation on the procedure for the functioning of separate subsystems (modules) of the UCITS.
One of these modules is the UCITS subsystem “Electronic court”, first launched in a test mode on January 01, 2019, and then in full range – on October 05, 2021. At the same time, two other models started their full-range functioning – “Electronic cabinet” and video conference subsystem.
Here, it is worth reminding about another two subsystems. They were launched earlier, however, a contemporary lawyer can’t even imagine his work without it – the Unified State Register of Court Decisions (the USRCD) and the official portal “Judicial Power of Ukraine”. The USRCD contains complete texts of decisions on cases, current judicial practices and so on. And the website of the Judicial Power provides information on the consideration of the cases, schedules of foregoing court hearings, current information on communications with respective courts, and options to pay court fees online.
Talking about the videoconference mode, in my opinion, this tool ensured the courts’ uninterrupted work during the pandemic and continues doing this during the war.
In the Autumn of 2020, courts and participants of judicial processes got access to EASYCON  communication platform. This system provides its users with a secure video conference connection without installing any additional applications, and it is rather convenient. Besides this mode allows participating in court hearings from outside of the court’s premises using its own technical means (part 4 article 212 of the Civil Proceeding Code of Ukraine). The EASYCON identifies a hearing participant using a qualified electronic signature, eliminating personal misidentification. The program’s functions enable all participants to exchange e-files directly during the conference. The practice demonstrates an annually increasing share of the cases heard in video conference more, confirming its popularity and meeting the demands of nowadays.
The module “Electronic cabinet” is the basic access tool for the USRCD’s users. According to part 6 article 14 of the Civil Proceeding Code of Ukraine, part 1 article 35 of the Criminal Processing Code of Ukraine, lawyers, notaries, private executors, arbitration managers, court experts, state authorities, local self-government bodies, economic units from state and communal sectors of the economy must have their official e-addresses registered in the USRCD system. For instance, the respective registration enables lawyers to create e-orders to get access to court cases where they represent their client’s interests.
Besides, on November 04, 2022, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted draft law №7574-d  as a basis. It proposes to impose the liability to have an e-cabinet registered in the USRCD on all legal entities and individual entrepreneurs. The final provisions of the documents (the first-reading version) establish that lawyers, notaries, state and private executors shall register e-cabinets in the USRCD or its separate subsystem (modules) ensuring the exchange with processual documents within thirty days from the day of this Law publication. Individual entrepreneurs shall have their electronic cabinets registered in the USRCD within four months of the Law coming into force. Moreover, they plan to enable parts of a court hearing to send documents through the USRCD to other participants, if they have an e-cabinet. When the respective changes come into force, applications (submissions) of those who had to register an e-cabinet but failed to do so, will remain null and void or returned without the court’s consideration, depending on the type of the document.
And, finally, the “Electronic court” subsystem. In my opinion, this is one of the most important modules of the USRCD, because it ensures the exchange of procedural documents (sending and receiving documents, copies, pieces of evidence, powers of attorney, etc.) in e-form between the courts, judicial bodies and institutions, between the court and court hearings’ participants, between the participants of a court proceeding.
With the help of the “Electronic court”, an authorized user can create procedural documents using the integrated text editor by filling in forms (templates) of documents and submitting them to the court. Papers will be delivered within the USRCD system and must bear an electronic digital signature. Indeed this is convenient, because we all strive not to print kilograms of paper documents to bring them to the court’s office or mail service department… The “Electronic court” subsystem ensures this possibility, saving its users’ time and money. The fast interaction of court hearings’ parties and the access to the case materials online are keys to the modern proceeding.
Of course, there are a lot of sceptics, who don’t use the respective options for some reason. Somebody may have a poor internet connection or don’t have it at all, or a court may lack the respective funding and technical support for full-range use of the subsystem. The factor of war affects the respective processes significantly. Moreover, there is also a staff shortage in the court system, overload, etc. No doubts, there still are a lot of challenges, but the work is being done, considering the mistakes, and filling gaps. People are changing and technologies are improving… life is going on!
Considering the above, I can see the USRCD’s significant potential to help the domestic court proceeding to turn gradually to an electronic court system, meeting the rules and standards of the EU.
Moreover it’s worth mentioning that the Order by the State Court Administration of Ukraine of 14.06.2022 № 178 approved a concept of a program on IT support for local and appellation courts and a project of the USRCD’s development within 2022-2024 . This concept contains a range of objectives to ensure: the enhanced furnishing of the courts with modern informational means; unification and optimization of courts’ activities; improved transparency, comfortability, and availability for the judicial system for citizens; minimization of a human factor and prevention of interfering into the judicial process.
The plans and objectives are rather ambitious, however, I believe that our state can do it because, I’d like to repeat, Ukrainians are smart and modern people keeping pace with the time. We can do it!
1. Law of Ukraine № 2147-VIII “On Changes to Economic Proceeding Code of Ukraine and other Regulations” (Digital resource) // website of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – access https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/2147-19
2. Resolution of the Highest Justice Council 28.02.2019 № 624/0/15-19 (Digital resource) // webpage ligazakon.net – access https://ips.ligazakon.net/document/view/mus31575?utm_source=jurliga.ligazakon.ua&utm_medium=news&utm_campaign=IPS_text&utm_content=jl01&_ga=2.18137407.704389383.1668672199-1249604658.1605087291
3. Law of Ukraine № 1416-IX “On Changes to Some Regulations to Ensure the Stage-by-Stage Implementation of the UCITS” (Digital resource) // website of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – access https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/1416-20#Text
4. Approval of the Changes to the Provisions on the procedures of functioning of separate USRCD’s subsystems (modules) (Digital resource) // website of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – access https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/rada/show/v083_910-22#Text
5. EASYCON Communication platform (Digital resource) // webpage of EASYCON. – access https://easycon.com.ua/
6. Draft law №7574-д on changes to some acts of Ukraine on the compulsory registration and use of electronic cabinets is the USRCD by professionals in law, legal entities and individual entrepreneurs (Digital resource) // website of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – access https://itd.rada.gov.ua/billInfo/Bills/Card/40629
7. The Order by the SCA of Ukraine of 14.06.2022 № 178 “On the Approval of the Branch-related Program of IT Support to Local and Appeal Courts and the Project of the USRCD’s development within 2022-2024 years” (Digital resource) // website Judicial Power of Ukraine. – access https://dsa.court.gov.ua/userfiles/media/new_folder_for_uploads/dsa/annex_1_178.pdf