GENTLS is a dis­pute res­o­lu­tion law firm based on a new con­cept. Its dis­tinc­tive fea­ture is that the firm takes up highly com­plex cases, re­quir­ing unique ex­pe­ri­ence in lit­i­ga­tion. In the con­text of ju­di­cial re­form, we de­cided to ask for com­men­tary from the

Kyiv Post Legal Quarterly - - News -

J.: At what stage is ju­di­cial re­form now?

Cur­rently, two key events within the frame­work of ju­di­cial re­form are un­der­way: a con­test for po­si­tions of judges at the Supreme Court of Ukraine, and the adop­tion of new pro­ce­dural codes. The con­test for po­si­tions at the Supreme Court is at the fi­nal stage of con­sid­er­a­tion of can­di­dates for judges by the High Coun­cil of Jus­tice, and the pro­ce­dural codes are ex­pected to be adopted by the Verkhovna Rada as laws.

J.:when, in your opinion, will the ju­di­cial sys­tem gain the trust of cit­i­zens and of the busi­ness?

The is­sue of trust in the ju­di­cial sys­tem is in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to pub­lic con­fi­dence in the Ukrainian au­thor­i­ties and the law en­force­ment sys­tem as a whole. Today, the ju­di­cial sys­tem in Ukraine is dis­cred­ited. This is a con­se­quence not only of the prob­lem of cor­rup­tion, but also of the to­tal in­for­ma­tion pro­pa­ganda of

mistrust in the courts. The au­thor­i­ties were prob­a­bly in­ter­ested in com­pletely dis­cred­it­ing the ju­di­ciary in or­der to shift re­spon­si­bil­ity for fail­ures in the fight against cor­rup­tion from the in­ves­tiga­tive bod­ies to the court sys­tem. In ad­di­tion, the dis­cred­it­ing of the ju­di­cial sys­tem makes it pos­si­ble to strengthen the in­flu­ence of the pros­e­cu­tor's of­fice and the po­lice, which is in­ad­mis­si­ble in a coun­try with the rule of law. Un­der such con­di­tions, trust in the ju­di­cial sys­tem will come much later than the re­cov­ery of the ju­di­cial sys­tem it­self. That is, the courts will work much bet­ter, but so­ci­ety will not per­ceive the fact im­me­di­ately, be­cause of a num­ber of prej­u­dices. The de­ter­min­ing fac­tor will not only be the qual­ity of the per­for­mance of the ju­di­cial sys­tem, but also the as­sess­ment of it by the me­dia, opinion lead­ers, and other in­sti­tu­tions of power.

J.: How can one ev alu­ate the suc­cess of ju­di­cial re­form?

I would sug­gest eval­u­at­ing it in fig­ures. Namely, com­pare how much in pub­lic funds and money from in­ter­na­tional donors was spent on ju­di­cial re­form, and what eco­nomic ef­fect was achieved as a re­sult of the re­form. If for­eign in­vestors be­lieve in the fair­ness of Ukrainian courts and come to the coun­try with in­vest­ments, then the re­form will have been a suc­cess.

J.:what is your vi­sion of the Ukrainian court of the fu­ture?

This is a court of jus­tice. In ad­di­tion, I want the courts to be­come more pre­dictable as a re­sult of the re­forms, that is, if there is a dis­pute it should be com­pletely clear what the likely out­come of the case may be, based on ju­di­cial prece­dents in sim­i­lar cases, the length of the court pro­ceed­ings, and ex­penses to be in­curred by the client be­fore the mo­ment of sat­is­fac­tion – the en­force­ment of the court rul­ing. What does fair jus­tice mean? In my opinion, it doesn’t just mean the res­o­lu­tion of cases in strict com­pli­ance with law. It is very im­por­tant in a court rul­ing to in­form the party about the rea­sons for mak­ing a spe­cific rul­ing. Af­ter read­ing the rul­ing, the los­ing side should see that the de­ci­sion is fair and that it does not raise sus­pi­cions of bias. The fair­ness, pre­dictabil­ity and trans­parency of the court sys­tem will foster trust.

J.:what is your opinion of the new draft of the pro­ce­dural codes, and what in­flu­ence will they have on the ju­di­ciary if adopted?

I as­sess the new codes pos­i­tively. For ex­am­ple, they pro­vide for the cre­ation of elec­tronic doc­u­ment cir­cu­la­tion be­tween the par­ties and the court, the list of ev­i­dence is sup­ple­mented by ev­i­dence from the In­ter­net, and the judge is given the pow­ers of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of the par­ties. On the other hand, the codes tighten for­mal re­quire­ments for doc­u­ments, which en­tails the need to en­gage only qual­i­fied at­tor­neys in the pro­ceed­ings. Oth­er­wise, the court can dis­miss the case for the rea­son that it does not com­ply with for­mal re­quire­ments, or for mi­nor er­rors made by in­ex­pe­ri­enced lawyers. In the con­text of these changes, the in­tro­duc­tion of a mo­nop­oly for at­tor­neys in rep­re­sent­ing clients in courts seems rea­son­able.

J: Why did your law firm choose to spe­cial­ize in lit­i­ga­tion?

Firstly, all key lawyers of our firm have his­tor­i­cally prac­ticed in courts, that is, they have a great deal of ex­pe­ri­ence as lit­i­ga­tors. Only a few lawyers can ef­fec­tively work in court pro­ceed­ings - not only be­cause of lack of nec­es­sary ex­pe­ri­ence and qual­i­fi­ca­tions, but also due to the peculiarities of their per­son­al­ity. Lit­i­ga­tion lawyers have strong per­sonal qual­i­ties, the abil­ity to per­suade and achieve vic­tory. Se­condly, I’m con­vinced that it is spe­cial­iza­tion that al­lows us to win com­plex court cases that other lawyers sim­ply don’t dare to take on. This is our com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage. We take up cases both at the ini­tial stage and at the stage of ap­peal or cas­sa­tion, when the cases have al­ready been lost. Of- ten, clients ask us to con­duct a pro­fes­sional re­view of on­go­ing court cases and give our in­de­pen­dent as­sess­ment of the cor­rect­ness of the le­gal po­si­tion in the case. We rec­om­mend how to make cases bet­ter, or take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the case and bring it to a con­clu­sion. It some­times hap­pens that we have to hon­estly tell the client that the case is un­promis­ing, and that it would be bet­ter to close it rather than waste ef­fort and re­sources on it. We ap­pre­ci­ate hon­esty in re­la­tions, and peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate this and trust us for it.

J: What does your firm do to im­prove the ju­di­cial sys­tem?

GENTLS law firm has a mis­sion and so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, which were de­clared right at the time of its cre­ation. Our mis­sion is to help our clients. Our so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity is to con­trib­ute to the es­tab­lish­ment of fair jus­tice in Ukraine. Such a so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity is nat­u­ral to us, since in un­der con­di­tions of un­fair, bi­ased jus­tice, an in­tel­lec­tual bar is not re­quired, and we would sim­ply lose our pro­fes­sion. There­fore, we are ac­tively in­volved in the devel­op­ment of new pro­ce­dural leg­is­la­tion. It is cru­cial for us that the codes be bal­anced and equally take into ac­count the in­ter­ests of the courts and the par­ties to the dis­pute. It is very im­por­tant to make ju­di­cial pro­tec­tion ac­ces­si­ble and ef­fec­tive. We co­op­er­ate with as­so­ci­a­tions of judges, and com­mu­ni­cate to judges our ex­pec­ta­tions about what must be im­proved in their work, and vice versa. This is a very valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence.

J.: You act as a lawyer for key politi­cians of the coun­try, in­clud­ing Volodymyr Groys­man, Arseniy Yat­senyuk, and a num­ber of in­flu­en­tial peo­ple's deputies. How does pol­i­tics in­flu­encey­our pro­fes­sional ac­tiv­i­ties?

We are a po­lit­i­cally in­de­pen­dent law firm. Among our clients are not only politi­cians, but also large for­eign com­pa­nies. Talk­ing about the pro­tec­tion of the in­cum­bent and for­mer prime min­is­ters, I will be la­conic: Our co­op­er­a­tion is in court cases on the pro­tec­tion of honor, dig­nity, and rep­u­ta­tion (defama­tion cases). We have the best ex­pe­ri­ence in defama­tion cases and, thus, politi­cians and busi­ness­men turn to us for help. At the mo­ment, we have not lost a sin­gle case in this cat­e­gory.

J.: You say GENTLS is a new type of a fir m spe­cial­iz­ing in lit­i­ga­tion. How are you dif­fer­ent from the oth­ers?

Firstly, we don’t bribe judges. We do our work so that the judge could un­avoid­ably make judg­ment in fa­vor of our client strictly in com­pli­ance with law. This goes in line with our mis­sion and so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity. Se­condly, we pro­vide a full range of ser­vices - that is, support not only at the stage of lit­i­ga­tion, but also at the stage of en­force­ment. It is im­por­tant for us to pro­vide the client with full sat­is­fac­tion. Thirdly, we han­dle highly com­plex cases that many other firms do not want to un­der­take. Of­ten we save cases that are mis­tak­enly seen as hope­less. The main thing is that we do not de­ceive our clients, be­cause we be­lieve that trust is the most valu­able thing that there can be in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween clients and their lawyers.

Oleh Gro­movyi, at­tor­ney, man­ag­ing part­ner at GENTLS Law Firm

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