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The work of courts under martial law

First of all, it should be said that de jure there is no single procedure for the work of courts under martial law and de facto the procedure for the work of the court is determined by its administration, depending on the situation in the region.

The main “regulator” of the judiciary in the conditions of the martial law is the Supreme Court (hereinafter – the SC), which on its official website publishes recommendations and clarifications on the work of the courts during the martial law, as well as on the change of territorial jurisdiction in the regions of active hostilities: lists of courts, which do not work, and the corresponding names of the courts where the cases are transferred (the Odessa region is not yet in such lists).

According to the explanations published on the website1 of the Supreme Court, the decision to suspend proceedings by a particular court is made in case of threat to life and safety of court visitors. That is, as a general rule, courts in Ukraine, where there is no active hostilities, work, and cases from the active war zone are transferred to courts in other regions.

In addition, it is reported that cases that are not urgent will be considered only with the written consent of all participants in the proceedings. At the same time, in the absence of a general legislative definition, the classification of a case as urgent depends on the wording of a specific procedural code (or, probably, is determined by the court).

For example, according to the procedural codes, the following are considered urgent:

– among civil cases – cases on establishing the fact of birth or death of a person in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine;

– among administrative cases – cases on detention of foreigners or stateless persons, as well as issues of peaceful assemblies, etc.;

– among criminal casespreliminary seizure of property or funds for up to 48 hours, application or change of pre-trial detention, cases of detainees, minors, as well as cases of offenses committed against children.

If the court did not stop hearing cases, the participants in the proceedings may apply for the adjournment of the case in connection with hostilities and/or for the consideration of the case by videoconference by any technical means, including their own. It is also reported that martial law is a serious reason to resume procedural deadlines.

In addition, an official letter of the Supreme Court on the procedure for considering criminal cases was specially published2, including:

in case of impossibility to enter information on a criminal offense into the Unified register of pre-trial investigations, information on the registration of the offense and the beginning of the pre-trial investigation may be confirmed by a resolution of the pre-trial investigation body;

– at the request of the suspect, it is appropriate to decide to change the measure of restraint: instead of bail – to establish a measure of restraint in the form of a personal obligation (fulfillment of court obligations), if the request is based on the desire to transfer the bail to the accounts of the National bank for the purposes of defense of Ukraine;

– in places of active hostilities at the request of the suspect to consider the issue of changing the measure of restraint: instead of house arrest – to establish a measure of restraint in the form of a personal obligation (fulfillment of court duties), etc.

Given the above, for process participants we see the following algorithm:

1. go to the website of a particular court in the “News” section and study the reports on the peculiarities of the relevant court for the period of the martial law (if they are published);

2. try to contact all possible telephone numbers of the court (because, as a general rule, courts in Ukraine are working);

3. if the phones do not answer – write to the emails listed on the court website;

4. if you have not succeeded to contact the court to clarify the procedure and term of your case – send a request to postpone the case until the end of martial law. Applications can be sent through the e-Court system or to court e-mails published on its website.