Russia: changes proposed to CSO court application procedures
Ministry of Justice proposes changes to CSO court application procedure
The ministry believes that a mandatory pre-trial dispute resolution mechanism for CSO-related public service provision will lighten court workloads and help CSOs save on legal fees.
A draft bill providing for this change has gone out to public consultation on the federal portal for draft regulatory and legal instruments.
The proposal is that, before appealing a Ministry of Justice decision in court, CSOs must lodge an appeal with a higher authority. Justice ministry spokespeople said this would help to “improve the appeals process”.
The main reason for the change is that officials are aiming to lighten court workloads. According to a statement on the justice ministry website, “The reforms will reduce the amount of resources spent on considering appeals, as well as relieving the pressure on the courts that has been created by hearing these cases. They tend not to be particularly complex, and could be promptly resolved elsewhere within the judicial hierarchy.”
The draft law sets out the process to be followed, deadlines for lodging appeals, and what the appeals should contain. The Ministry of Justice stated that the initiative “will reduce financial burdens” on CSOs: they will no longer have to pay fees to the state when filing administrative claims at court, and can also avoid legal bills.
Darya Miloslavskaya chairs the board of the association Lawyers for Civil Society. In an opinion piece in the newspaper Vedomosti, she identified the current problem: there are discrepancies between the laws governing CSOs and community organisations and the provisions of the Civil Code.
“The Code was amended in 2014: they changed the way that CSO organisational and legal structures are defined; corporate and unitary organisations are now treated differently; and in some case, changes have been made to their management systems. The basic laws governing CSOs were not in line with the Civil Code. <…> From what I understand, the Ministry of Justice want this draft law to remedy the situation insofar as it is now prepared to sort matters out itself without involving the courts, and probably come to its own conclusions – and that’s a good thing. It’s also an advantage for the appellants: they don’t have to find solicitors and advocates, take up the court’s time, and pay state admin fees; plus the actual issue can also be resolved more quickly,” said Ms. Miloslavskaya.