The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has announced the launch of a pilot project in Ukraine to provide assistance in creation of online courts to consider small claims (EUR 5,000-10,000), which is then planned to be extended to other countries.
"The project starts in Ukraine, where 49% of companies surveyed in Kyiv said that the courts are the main or very serious obstacle to their activities," the bank said in a press release on Thursday.
As explained by the EBRD, online courts involve a remote dispute resolution procedure, ranging from filing a claim and ending with a decision.
"These courts are available directly to litigants and their representatives, and are complemented by services and tools to facilitate access to justice and participation in the trial," the release said.
As a first step, the EBRD is launching a comprehensive assessment of court performance and performance standards based on the best international, European and national commercial court practices. These standards will set performance targets for the concept and development plan for online courts, which will be developed in the second phase, highlighting the necessary legal, technical and budgetary prerequisites for their creation. The concept and roadmap developed at the second stage for Ukraine can be replicated in other economies where the EBRD invests, the report explains.
For the pilot project, the category of low-cost cases was chosen, since in this case the cost of court costs and delays in proceedings are disproportionate and are unfair obstacles to justice. At the same time, these barriers can be removed through online courts, which will improve access to justice for small and medium-sized businesses.
"According to the World Bank, the cost of resolving a commercial dispute through a local court of first instance in Serbia is on average 39.6% of the cost of a claim, while in Ukraine this figure reaches 46.3%, and in the Kyrgyz Republic - 47%," EBRD reports in the message.
As the bank says, the pandemic has increased the relevance of the issue of accessibility of courts in the countries where the EBRD operates. This is explained by the overload of the judicial system with cases, as well as the cost and duration of the process, and the high level of its complexity.
At the same time, in such developed economies as Canada, the United Kingdom or the United States, online courts have shown impressive results, the EBRD notes. "The EBRD pilot project aims to develop a system based on the experience of these countries and make it available to the countries of the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia," the bank said in a release.