UNBA proposes to recognize COVID-19 as a justifiable reason to adjourn the court hearing at the legislative level

Legislation 21:35 Fri 19.03.21 311 Reviews Print

The National Bar Association of Ukraine calls on the parliament to amend the procedural codes and to indicate that COVID-19 is a justifiable reason to adjourn the case.

This was stated by the President of UNBA Lydia Izovitova at a meeting of the Bar Council of Ukraine on March 19, 2021.

 She noted that over the past year, quarantine has led to pressure on attorneys and restrictions on their professional rights as litigants. A lawyer's failure to appear in court due to health or inability to be physically present was often considered as an unreasonable excuse. And there were many such cases throughout Ukraine.

"This was particularly true for the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court, which is located in the capital city, but in which by attorneys from the regions have their practice. Some judges have even appealed to the Higher Qualification and Disciplinary Bar Commission of Ukraine, insisting that such attorneys` conduct violates rules of professional ethics. In the middle of the last year, there were more than 30 such complaints. Judges can be expected to continue this practice for the time being, and we need to be informed of such cases and respond appropriately. I ask the regional councils to inform us immediately if such cases occur", - Lydia Izovitova said.

UNBA has repeatedly appealed to the Council of Judges of Ukraine, the High Council of Justice regarding the fact that quarantine measures cannot be used against the defense and attorneys. However, judges continue this practice. According to the Head of UNBA, the problem can be solved at the legislative level.

Lydia Izovitova said: "UNBA and High Council of Justice, and we were united in this, proposed to the parliament to adopt a bill to amend the procedural codes and indicate that COVID-19 is a justifiable reason to adjourn the court hearing. If such amendments are made, it would be a way out not only for us, the attorneys but also for the judges".

 It will be recalled that during 2020, UNBA leaders took part in amending the legislation to introduce quarantine measures, as well as made proposals on the activities of the judiciary during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 In the report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human rights, released in December 2020, it was stated that COVID-19 restrictions affected access to justice and the guarantee of a fair trial.

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