Article title The Right of Access to Justice in Civil Cases: Principles of the European Court of Human Rights and the National Context
Authors

   

Name of magazine Legal journal «Law of Ukraine» (Ukrainian version)
Issue 10/2018
Сторінки [64-85]
DOI 10.33498/louu-2018-10-064
Annotation

Upon ratification of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) and emergence of the idea on unification of civil procedural law, the issue of access to justice in civil cases, after being a purely national one gradually turned into a supranational issue, and currently different subjects attempt at finding the ways to resolve this issue acting both independently and by joint efforts within common comparative legal projects. In this context, a relevant research is always underlain by the requirements of cl.1, Article 6 of the ECHR which proclaims the right to a fair trial. However, as the ECHR practice shows, despite the fundamental nature of this right and the right of access to justice, they are not always respected by national courts and this, among other things, is due to their non-absolute nature, i.e. the possibility of legislative regulation, and also to a certain autonomy of the States – parties to the ECHR in imposing restrictions which may reflect the national specifics of a particular legal system. At the same time, the final assessment regarding the right of access to justice is made by the ECHR, and this requires that its principles be taken into account while reforming the procedural legislation. The purpose of this article is to determine the contents of the right of access to justice with due regard for the historical origins of the issue of access to justice and the ECHR practice, to identify the obstacles to its exercise and the potential ways to overcome them. At the same time, given that in 2016–2017 Ukraine implemented a judicial reform which also had an impact on the civil court procedure, there is a need to analyze certain innovations with the aim of assessing their appropriateness in terms of the ECHR. The article suggests that the concept of “access to justice” be understood in two ways: firstly, as the right of access to justice ensuing from cl. 1, Article 6 of the ECHR and existing along with other rights which are directly enshrined in the above-mentioned provisions and formulated by the ECHR; secondly, as accessibility of justice, i.e. a certain international standard of a fair and efficient court protection covering the requirements which should be complied with not only within the civil court procedure, but also within the entire domain of justice. Alongside this, given the ECHR principles, the right of access to justice is defined as a positive right which includes the possibility of initiating proceedings in a case in the trial court and, as a rule, in higher courts, and also proper notification about the proceedings opened in a case to which the person is a party, consideration of the case by court and adequate information about the full text of the court decision. The author states that neither the civil procedural legislation previously in force nor the new legislation contains a single provision which would fully reproduce the contents of this right in the interpretation of the ECHR. Besides, not all of its aspects are legally regulated in general. With due regard for the ECHR principles, the author divides all of the restrictions of the right of access to justice into two groups. The first one is comprised by restrictions which, as a general rule, do not result in a breach of the right of access to justice but act only as “potential obstacles”: jurisdictional, subjective, temporary, procedural and financial constraints introduced with the aim of ensuring the appropriate administration of justice. To some extent, they are inherent in the national civil court procedure. In contrast to the first group, the practical obstacles of the second group are generally not provided for by law but do exist in the law practice: excessive formalism (legal purism), conflict of law application and impossibility to obtain free legal assistance which may result in a breach of the right of access to justice and therefore should be remedied.

 

Keywords right of access to justice, Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, ECHR practice, potential obstacles to access to court, practical obstacles to access to court
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