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Supreme Commercial Court criticises President's proposal to merge courts

12 November 2013 

Source: (info)
The Supreme Commercial Court has officially criticised the presidential plan to create a single Supreme Court, which would mean making changes to the constitution. The business daily Кommersant has a copy of the Supreme Commercial Court's official reply in its possession.

Kommersant writes that the 14 page reply signed by the Court's chair Anton Ivanov was drafted as a result of the joint efforts of the relevant departments of the Supreme Commercial Court’s administration and judges. The document not only criticises the text of the reform but the procedure proposed for its implementation.

As Russkaya Planeta reports, the creation of a single court proposes inserting amendments to a list of 28 laws in the future. However, the Supreme Commercial Court believes that this transitional period will give rise to "uncertainty with regards a large number of questions". Most notably, if a deadline for the law to come into force is not specifically stated, then the procedure for the abolition of the Supreme Commercial Court and the transfer of questions that come under its jurisdiction will commence from the moment that the law is published. Thus, the judges believe, "it will be impossible to transfer these powers without changing the law".

The authors of the official response noted that the bill does not mention how the review of the judicial acts of the Commercial courts will be carried out after it is adopted and what will be done with the clarifications produced by the Supreme Commercial Court over the last 20 years. "The bill does not establish the procedure for determining a start date for the work of the newly formed Supreme Court and a period of six months is clearly insufficient to dismantle and abolish the Supreme Commercial Court," the court noted, adding that the creation of the new Supreme Court will require the abolition of the current one because "otherwise they will be in breach of the principle of the equality of courts".

The Supreme Commercial Court believes that the examination for new members of the Supreme Court "does not accord with the constitutional principle of the irremovability of judges", because the abolition of a court is insufficient grounds for the termination of a judge's authorities.

With regards the proposed amendments to the Constitution required to implement the reform, the Supreme Commercial Court stressed that the exclusion of any references to the Commercial procedural legislation and the Commercial courts could lead to the "destabilisation" of civil legal relations.

President Putin first announced plans to merge the Supreme Commercial Court and the Supreme Court in June of this year at the Petersburg Economic Forum. In his opinion these changes would ensure a unified approach to the resolution of disputes between citizens, organisations and the authorities.

Translated by Simon Geoghegan