Judiciary & Martial Law 

September, 2022 - Dmytro Monastyrskyi

On February 24, a lot changed in Ukraine, and the judicial system was no exception. What new has the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation brought to the resolution of legal disputes and what does the judiciary look like under martial law - we will consider further.

The first months after the invasion

Immediately after the Russian invasion, the courts took some time to recover from the shock. Judges and staff members, like the rest of Ukrainians, had to take care of their own safety and the safety of their relatives. On the websites of many courts, announcements were made that the cases would be withdrawn from consideration until further notice.

In early March, the Council of Judges of Ukraine published recommendations on the work of courts under martial law. Among them are to determine the specifics of the work of each court by meetings of its judges, taking into account the security situation in the respective region, to postpone or cancel court sessions when possible, to take a balanced approach to the issue of compliance with procedural terms and not to hurry with the return of procedural documents.

When the settlements where certain courts are located were under temporary occupation, the Supreme Court changed the territorial jurisdiction of court cases by its decrees , determining it according to the courts located in the controlled territory. Together with the successes of the Ukrainian army at the front, the territorial jurisdiction of the courts was restored.

Courts in those regions where active hostilities were not taking place were the first to return to a relatively normal mode of operation. Towards the end of spring, courts began to resume work in the de-occupied territories of the northern regions. Currently, more than 60 courts remain suspended in the territories of Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions, which were already occupied after February 24.

Procedural terms

The analysis of court practice shows that the courts mostly renewed procedural terms that expired after the introduction of martial law. For example, the Supreme Court noted that "the introduction of martial law in a certain territory is a valid reason for renewing the procedural terms". However, such wording should not be perceived as permission to skip the procedural terms until the end of the martial law. As the country adjusts to life in new realities and the security situation in many regions remains stable, courts increasingly take into account the circumstances of each specific situation, such as, for example, the location of the court and its mode of operation, the location of the participant in the case or his representative, and specifically the circumstances related to martial law, prevented from taking a procedural action within the time limit.

Calls and messages

After the introduction of martial law, the procedure for issuing subpoenas and notifications did not change.

At the end of July, the Verkhovna Rada adopted draft law No. 7315 . It amends the norm of the Law "On the Judicial System and the Status of Judges" regarding the publicity and openness of the judicial process and provides that an additional way of informing about the court considering the case, the parties to the dispute and the subject of the lawsuit, the place, date and time of the court session may be the provision of such information through the "Action" application. At the same time , the draft lawdoes not make any changes directly to the procedural codes in terms of the procedure for notifying the participants of the case about its consideration, and the actual text of the rule does not allow us to say that a notification in "Diya" will be considered a proper summons to a court session. What's more, "Diya" has been receiving notices about upcoming meetings before. However, it will be interesting to see how such a rule will be applied by the courts.

A significant problem after the beginning of the full-scale invasion became the notification of those Ukrainians who were forced to leave the country. Hardly anyone, escaping from war, thinks about removing from the registered place of residence or changing it. Instead, the courts, having received information that a person remains registered at his address, formally have the right to consider the case against him, without finding out whether he remained in the country when the great war began or not. This issue requires additional legislative regulation in order, on the one hand, to provide such people with proper access to justice, and on the other hand, to prevent them from fleeing from courts abroad.

Registers and services of the web portal of the Judiciary

Immediately after the start of the full-scale aggression, the State Judicial Administration closed access to the Unified State Register of Court Decisions and services of the web portal of the Judiciary of Ukraine. When litigants started to resume their workflows and inquire about the status of cases, it made life a little more difficult. However, at the end of June, access was restored, and now all systems are working (almost) without complaints.

Court sessions

The courts, which are located at a relatively safe distance from the front, mostly resumed hearing cases in court sessions. At the same time, the party's participation in the mode of video conferencing using its own technical means, which was introduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic, became useful and is actively used during martial law. According to my observations, the courts go towards the participants of the case who wish to participate in the hearing remotely, even in cases where there are formal reasons to refuse to grant such an application, which, in my opinion, is positive.

At the same time, formally, the ability to participate in video meetings using one's own devices remains tied to the quarantine introduced in connection with Covid-19, which is still ongoing. Therefore, it would be advisable either to add martial law as another reason for holding such a meeting, or to remove any similar conditions from the norm altogether and make video conferences a full-fledged alternative to a regular meeting. Considering, of course, the technical capabilities of the court itself.

Bodies of judicial governance

The new phase of the war temporarily paused the work on updating two bodies of judicial governance: the High Council of Justice and the High Qualification Commission of Judges. Let me remind you that within the framework of the current judicial reform, candidates are selected with the participation of commissions, half of which are authoritative international experts. But already at the end of April , the meetings of the Ethics Council, which checks candidates for the new composition of the VRP , resumed . A little later, in July, the Competition Commission for the selection of candidates for the positions of members of the Central Committee of the Central Committee resumed its work. This is extremely positive, because the completion of the integrity check of the candidates for the members of the VRP and the selection of candidates for the VCKS is one of the conditions under which Ukraine was granted the status of a candidate for EU membership.


According to the Law , even under martial law, courts must continue to administer justice. Abbreviation or acceleration of any form of judicial proceedings is prohibited. Six months after the beginning of the full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, it can be stated that the judicial system has withstood the blow and continues to work relatively stably (of course, with an adjustment for the military situation in a specific area). One can only monitor the situation, do one's work and hope that all the challenges of war will eventually be overcome.



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