Lidiia Izovitova, head of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, drew the attention of the delegates to the opinion of the experts of the Legislation Institute of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. They concluded the following: (i) the High Council of Justice, as the constitutional body, is not synonymous with the High Judicial Council, and (ii) The Congress of Advocates of Ukraine has never before elected any members of the High Council of Justice.
Representative class: Pavlo Hrechkivskyi and Oleksii Malovatskyi were trusted to represent advocates in the High Council of Justice, and Oleksandr Drozdov – in the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine
The Congress of Advocates of Ukraine was held on 15 February this year in Plai ski complex, which is located at the foot of the eponymous mountain. Convening of advocates’ highest self-regulatory body was attributable to provisions of The High Council of Justice Act. The Act established requirements for the procedure of composition of the High Council of Justice. Those responsible for it were to choose their representatives two month before the expiration of term of the sitting members. If the members of the High Council of Justice were formerly elected as the members of the High Judicial Council, the Act determined a preclusive expiration term of their office – 30 April 2019.
The procedure of election of members of High Council of Justice was mentioned in the provisional agenda of the Congress. However, in fact, the Congress then turned to other trigger questions.
Notwithstanding the venue of the Congress and its remote location from big cities, it was the first time that 100% of delegates attended the Congress. 181 out of 181 delegates, which were formerly elected in 25 regions of Ukraine, have registered. The mandates commission confirmed credentials of 181 delegates (176 main delegates and 5 alternative ones). Accordingly, in order to pass a decision on human resources matters, 91 delegates (more than half of the registered delegates) must vote for it.
Council of Justice
There were 5 candidates for 2 positions of members of the High Council of Justice, which will be vacated on 30 April this year. These candidates were: Nataliia Alpatieva, Taras Budz, Pavlo Hrechkovskyi, Oleksii Malovatskyi and Yevhenii Oharkov (we wrote about them in the detailed publication ‘Сaptures both’, ‘Yuridicheskaya praktika’ No. 7 as of 12 February 2019).
Based on the results of special inspection determined by the Prevention of Corruption Act, as the secretary of the Congress reported, the candidates did not meet any barriers to the post of a member of the High Council of Justice.
Before the Congress started, the question was raised concerning the candidates Pavlo Hrechkovskyi and Oleksii Malovatskyi, who are currently serving as the members of the Council pursuant to transitional provisions of the special law.
In this regard, Lidiia Izovitova, head of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, drew the attention of the delegates to the opinion of the experts of the Legislation Institute of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. They concluded the following: (i) the High Council of Justice, as the constitutional body, is not synonymous with the High Judicial Council, and (ii) The Congress of Advocates of Ukraine has never before elected any members of the High Council of Justice.
The delegates of the Congress had some questions to other candidates. Thus, the delegates wondered why Yevhenii Oharkov did not reflect his income in the declaration for 2017. The latter explained that he did not work for family reasons. Thus, he had no income from his professional activity. The delegates also asked Nataliia Alpatieva why there is no information on the organizational form of her legal practice. The candidate is an attorney. However, she is practicing as the C.E.O. of the law firm.
Each candidate had an opportunity to address the Congress. Yet, not all the names of the candidates were included in the ballot papers for the secret vote. Thus, the following candidates were on the list: the delegates of the Congress, Pavlo Hrechkovskyi, Taras Budz, and Oleksii Malovatskyi. The latter was supported by 170 delegates of the Congress (with 37 required). 17 and 23 delegates only voted for Yevhenii Oharkov and Nataliia Alpatieva respectively.
In this way, the advocates elected 2 members of the High Council of Justice out of 3 candidates.
The results of the secret ballot were as follows: Pavlo Hrechkovskyi and Oleksii Malovatskyi were elected (161 and 142 votes of the delegates of the Congress accordingly).
The agenda also included the election (appointment) of the member of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine (the HQCJ). Given the fact that the term of the office of Pavlo Lutsiuk, the current representative of the Bar in the HQCJ, expires on 3 July this year, this issue was also included in the agenda of the Congress (in order not to hold the Congress in a couple of months).
There were 3 candidates who applied for this post, namely, Serhii Harhach, Mykhailo Hurtovyi and Oleksandr Drozdov. However, only two candidates were listed in the ballot. Mykhailo Hurtovyi was not included in the ballot, because he failed to pass a special inspection (he refused to give consent to conduct the inspection). As a result, the attorneys elected 1 member of the HQCJ out of 2 candidates.
Following the secret ballot, Oleksandr Drozdov was elected as the member of the HQCJ. 172 delegates of the Congress voted for him.
Accession to office
The members of the High Council of Justice took the oath before the Congress of Advocates of Ukraine (the body that elected them to the post) right after the announcement of the result of the secret ballot. Despite this, they will start to work only after the expiry of the term of Pavlo Hrechkovskyi and Vadym Belianevych, current representatives from the Bar (i.e. after 30 April this year). This procedure is expressly provided by the transitional provisions of The High Council of Justice Act for its members, who were elected by quota of congress of advocates, scientists and congress of prosecutors. At the same time, the members, elected by the Congress of Judges of Ukraine in December 2018, have immediately replaced their colleagues in the High Council of Justice.
Oleksandr Drozdov will be able to take up responsibilities of the member of the HQCG without any delay. Prior to the vote on election matters, the Congress of Advocates of Ukraine firstly expressed some mistrust. Afterwards, it dismissed Pavlo Lutsiuk from the post of the member of the HQCJ due to the violation – forgery of his attorney’s certificate. The advocates considered that their colleague, whose integrity was questioned, could not represent the Bar in the state body (especially if it is responsible for the integrity of judges).
At the time of election of Oleksandr Drozdov to HQCJ, was a chairman of the Higher Qualification and Disciplinary Bar Commission of Ukraine (HQDBC). For this reason, he had to resign from the post of a chairman of the HQDBC. In view of this, the Congress of Advocates of Ukraine has considered one more personnel issue. Following the open vote, Serhii Vylkov was elected as a member of HQDBC.
Published in ‘Yuridicheskaya praktika’
Authors: Svitlana Tarasova, Iryna Honchar