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Overcoming the staff shortage, ensuring independence, fighting corruption and digitalization of the judiciary are the main tasks of the judiciary

The Court Index expert survey conducted by the European Business Association in partnership with AEQUO law firm showed a slight positive change in the court system’s performance in 2023. All components of the index have slightly increased compared to 2021, but not enough to speak of tangible changes.

In 2023, the integral score of the Court Index increased to 2.73 points on a 5-point scale (in 2021 it was 2.51 points).

The level of trust in the judiciary by company leaders has increased from 1.96 points in 2021 to the current 2.17 points. The assessment of CEOs is traditionally much lower than that of the legal community.

For the first time in the history of the survey, legal professionals’ assessment of the factors of organization and operation of the court system has moved from negative to neutral and amounted to 3.13 points in 2023. As a reminder, in 2021, this indicator was 2.92 points. Lawyers’ assessment of the impartiality of the court system has improved from 2.64 points to the current 2.88 points.

Respondents generally gave a positive assessment of the Supreme Court. The respondents also noted the need to preserve the system of commercial courts and the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court as a mechanism for harmonizing legal positions between courts of different jurisdictions and resolving interjurisdictional disputes. At the same time, a number of respondents noted the need to update the personnel of the Grand Chamber.

Among the factors of the organization and operation of the court system, the experts gave the best ratings to the accessibility of court decisions, qualifications and professionalism of judges, quality of court decisions and predictability of court outcomes. The worst scores were given to the timing of court decisions, the independence of the judiciary, and the objectivity of the judicial process. It is worth noting that 49% believe that the situation with court independence has not changed over the past two years, and 27% believe that the situation has different dynamics in different courts.

The top three factors that negatively affect trust in the judiciary are (1) corruption and bribery in the court process, (2) too high workload of courts, which leads to a decrease in the quality of court proceedings, and (3) ambiguity of the legislation that the court deals with.

Commercial courts received the highest rating from the professional community – 2.83 points out of 5 possible (2.62 in 2021). Administrative courts are in second place with a score of 2.72 points, and general courts are in third place with a score of 2.63 points. This trend was also observed in the previous wave of the survey.

Respondents generally gave a negative assessment of the cassation filters introduced in 2019, noting the legal uncertainty they created and the increased risks of subjective obstacles to access to justice in the cassation court.

The idea of creating a specialized court for investment disputes was also generally negatively assessed by respondents, primarily due to the inability to properly delineate the jurisdiction of such a court from other courts and a number of expectations about the impact of such a court on the quality of justice.

The most urgent tasks for the judiciary are to overcome staff shortages and corruption, ensure the independence of the judiciary from the influence of other branches of government, and ensure the unity and consistency of court practice.The results of the Court Index were presented on December 19 during the EBA’s expert discussion with the participation of the legal community, the judiciary and judicial governance bodies, and the relevant Committee of the Verkhovna Rada.

The participants of the event emphasized the need for digitalization of court proceedings, which, in their opinion, will simplify access to justice and reduce corruption risks.

Anna Derevyanko, Executive Director of the European Business Association "The business demand for qualitative changes in the court system remains huge. This is a reform that affects the future of Ukraine, investments, and the trust of international partners. And we are glad that there is a dialog with the authorities implementing changes in the court system, and that they realize the importance and urgency of such changes. At the same time, it is worth remembering that each of us can influence the situation - the honest and principled position of business leaders in their relations with the court system is also an important part of the changes."

Oleksiі Filatov, Senior Partner at Aequo Law Firm "The results of the Court Index are of significant importance for Ukraine′s economic development and its further integration into the global economic system. Foreign investments, as well as investments of Ukrainian business leaders, will be one of the key factors in rebuilding our country, and investors′ opinion on the court system should be taken into account when deciding on the reform of this system."

For reference

The European Business Association has been conducting the Court Index since 2013 to monitor and timely identify problematic aspects in the relationship between business and the court system. It consists of three equivalent components: an assessment of the level of trust in the court system by EBA member companies' CEOs, an assessment of the impartiality of the court system, and an average assessment of the factors of organization and operation of the court system. The survey, which was conducted from October 23 to November 9, involved 75 lawyers of the EBA member companies. The research partner in 2023 is AEQUO.


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