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
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