What changes still need to be made?
The reform continues. The judiciary’s transformation will last through 2020. The bulk of changes will be implemented once five more steps are made.
1. Finalizing the establishment of new courts
In the first half of 2019, two new courts will begin operations—the High Anti-Corruption Court and the High Court for Intellectual Property. The selection of judges for the High Anti-Corruption Court is already completed; on April 11, 2019, the President of Ukraine appointed the judges of the High Anti-Corruption Court. The selection process for filling the seats at the High Court for Intellectual Property is still ongoing.
2. Refreshing the human resources pool
The selection of judges for the district courts and appellate courts is still ongoing. It is happening on an unprecedented scale, as there are around 2,000 vacant seats. The requirements for potential candidates include having a law degree and from 3 to 7 years of experience working as a judge, attorney, or a legal scholar (depending on which court the candidate is applying to).
3. Completing the restructuring of the court system and the qualifications review
By the end of 2019, the system of local (district) and appellate courts will have been restructured. The qualifications review of appellate court judges is almost completed, while the qualifications review of the judges in local courts is in full swing.
4. Finalizing the reform of the bar
The reform of the bar is of key significance in the overall reform of the judiciary. A bill that presents a new version of the law “On the Bar and the Practice of Law” is currently under consideration by the parliament. The provisions of this bill bring the bar’s self-governance to a new level, introduce safeguards of attorneys’ independence, expand attorneys’ rights while also ratcheting up their accountability with regards to the quality of the justice process.
5. Passing new legislation on legal education
A reform of legal education is foundational to our future as a lawful society. The idea underlying the educational reform is the creation of a unified legal profession; having been trained in it, a person can work as a judge, an attorney, or a prosecutor. Pertinent bills will be developed in 2019.
Will we be able to then say that the reform is completed?
Nominally, yes. The legislative and institutional components of the reform will have been completed, and the necessary conditions undergirding the functioning of a law-based state will have been created—a solid building will have been erected, so to speak. However, the mode of life inside this building’s walls will be determined by its inhabitants—the people who will join the legal profession. They need to become carriers of a new legal culture and of values representing a new philosophy of life. Without this, the results of the legislative and institutional changes will never make a crossover into our real lives. That is why the human-resources component of the reform is one of the more complicated ones and requires more time to be implemented.