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Court System in the Republic of Belarus

22 January 2014

 

In late 2013 - early 2014 the court system of the Republic of Belarus overcame through structural changes.

If previously the court system consisted of the Constitutional Court, general courts and economic courts, since January 1, 2014 general and economic courts have merged into a single system of courts of general jurisdiction with the Supreme Court at the head.

Economic courts continue functioning as courts of certain specialization within general jurisdiction courts system. The Supreme Economic Court joined the Supreme Court and there was established the Judicial Chamber for Economic Cases within the Supreme Court.

Thus, since January 1, 2014 the court system of the Republic of Belarus consists of the Constitutional Court and the courts of general jurisdiction.

1. The Constitutional Court


1.1. Competence

The Constitutional Court exercises the following powers:

  • verifies the conformity of legal acts with the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, international legal acts ratified by the Republic of Belarus, laws of the Republic of Belarus, decrees and edicts of the President of the Republic of Belarus;
  • provides a mandatory preliminary control of laws for their conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, international legal acts ratified by the Republic of Belarus;
  • on the proposal of the President of the Republic of Belarus decides on the conformity of international legal acts, which have not come into force, with the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus;
  • on the proposal of the Presidium of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus decides about the facts of systematic or gross violations of local Councils of Deputies legislative requirements;
  • on the proposal of the President of the Republic of Belarus officially interprets decrees and edicts of the President of the Republic of Belarus concerning constitutional rights, freedoms and duties of citizens;
  • on the proposal of the President of the Republic of Belarus, the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, the Council of the Republic of Belarus of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus expounds its position on the documents adopted (issued) by foreign states, international organizations and (or) their bodies, which affect the interests of the Republic of Belarus in terms of compliance with generally recognized principles and norms of international law;
  • on the proposal of the President of the Republic of Belarus conducts a check of constitutionality of the legislation directions, determined by the Head of the State, enforcement practice of courts, enforcement agencies and public authorities;
  • decides on elimination of gaps in laws, on exclusion of a conflict in laws and legal uncertainty;
  • adopts annual messages to the President of the Republic of Belarus and the chambers of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus on the constitutional legality in the Republic of Belarus.


1.2. Procedure of verification of the conformity of legal acts with the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus


Only certain entities have the right to appeal to the Constitutional Court with a proposal of verification. They are:

  • the President of the Republic of Belarus;
  • the House of Representatives of the National Assembly;
  • the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly;
  • the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus;
  • the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus.


All other subjects are entitled to address to the above-mentioned bodies and persons only with the initiative to verify the conformity of legal acts.

Verification of the legal acts conformity is carried out, as a rule, in an open court session by the collegiate Constitutional Court on the basis of principles of adversarial process, equality of parties, presumption of constitutionality of acts.

Upon the results of verification of the legal acts conformity the Constitutional Court issues the conclusion, which has supreme legal force and direct action and comes into force since its adoption.


2. Courts of general jurisdiction


The system of courts of general jurisdiction consists of:

  • district (city) and military courts;
  • regional and Minsk city courts, regional economic courts and the Minsk City Economic Court, as well as the Belarusian military court;
  • the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus.


2.1. Competence


District (city), regional and Minsk city courts consider:

  • criminal cases;
  • civil cases arising from civil, family, labor, housing, land and other relations provided that at least one of the parties is an individual;
  • cases involving legal entities only if it is stipulated by laws of the Republic of Belarus, decrees and edicts of the President of the Republic of Belarus.

 

Cases involving creation, legal protection and use of intellectual property regardless of the parties are considered only by intellectual property judicial board of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus.

Military courts and the Belarusian military court consider civil cases arising from military service relationship, as well as criminal cases of all crimes committed by servicemen.

However since July, 1 2014 military courts and Belarusian military court will be abolished and all their authorities will be transferred to district (city), regional and Minsk city courts.

Regional economic courts and the Minsk City Economic Court consider:

  • cases on economic (business) disputes between legal persons, individual entrepreneurs;
  • cases related to realization of entrepreneurial and other economic (business) activities;
  • cases on appealing against non-normative legal acts and actions (inactivity) of a state body, which infringe the rights and legitimate interests of the applicant in the sphere of entrepreneurial and other economic activities;
  • cases on recognition and enforcement of decisions of foreign courts and foreign arbitral awards on the disputes concerning entrepreneurial and other economic activities;
  • cases with participation of the Republic of Belarus, administrative and territorial units of the Republic of Belarus, state bodies, bodies of local government and self-government, organizations, which are not legal persons, officials and citizens only in cases stipulated by laws of the Republic of Belarus, decrees and edicts of the President of the Republic of Belarus.


3. Economic Courts


As specialized economic courts, which were included into the system of courts of general jurisdiction, have remained their competence, economic courts will continue to adjudicate business (economic) disputes.


3.1. Jurisdiction of Economic Courts


The cases shall be considered on the first instance by the economic courts of the regions and the Minsk City Economic Court.

Specified cases shall be considered on the first instance by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus (the cases related to state secrets, disputes between the Republic of Belarus and administrative and territorial units of the Republic of Belarus, etc.)

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus shall have the right to accept to proceedings and to consider any case.


3.2. Terms


Considering of cases in the court of the first instance consists of two main stages:

  • preparation of a case for proceedings (as a rule shall be completed by holding the preparatory judicial session not later than 15 working days from the date of arrival of the application to the economic court);
  • proceedings.

As a rule the case shall be considered by the economic court of the first instance within no more than two months from the date of adoption of the ruling of the economic court on appointment of the case to proceedings.

The term of specified cases considering (disputes over state property, connected with state registration and liquidation of legal entities and individual entrepreneurs; disputes on the release of property from seizure) is one month from the date of adoption of the ruling of the economic court on appointment of the case to proceedings.

The term of consideration of cases on certain kinds of proceedings (cases on appealing against non-normative legal acts, actions (inactivity) of a state body, cases on recognition and enforcement of decisions of foreign courts and foreign arbitral awards) is one month from the date of arrival of the application (complaint) to the economic court.

The case with participation of foreign persons located outside the Republic of Belarus shall be considered within the term of no more than seven months, unless otherwise specified by an international treaty of the Republic of Belarus.

The cases with participation of foreign persons, if these persons or bodies of their management, branches, representative offices or their representatives, authorized to conduct the case, reside or live in the territory of the Republic of Belarus, shall be considered in the general terms.

In exceptional cases, taking into account special complexity of the case, the term of the case consideration can be extended by the chairperson of the economic court or his or her deputy up to four months, and the cases with participation of foreign persons located outside the Republic of Belarus – up to one year.


3.3. Writ  proceedings in economic courts


The writ proceedings means adoption by the economic court of a ruling on an injunction (court order) without consideration and summon of the parties on such demands that are:

  • uncontroversial;
  • that are recognized (not contested) by the debtor but not satisfied yet;
  • with the amount up to 100 base units.

The cases in the order of writ proceedings shall be considered within twenty days from the date of arrival of the application on institution of writ proceedings to the economic court.

3.4. Proceedings on appeal against judicial decisions

The judicial decisions of the economic courts may be appealed in the appeal and cassation instance, in order of supervision.

Appeal instance

The judicial decisions of the economic court of the first instance that have not come into force may be appealed in the appeal instance.

Petitions for appeal shall be considered by the economic court of the appeal instance of the economic court of the region and the Minsk City Economic Court.

A petition for appeal can be submitted within 15 working days after the economic court of the first instance has accepted the appealed judicial decision.

The petition for appeal shall be considered within 15 working days from the date of its arrival at the economic court.

In exceptional cases, with account of special complexity of the case, the term for consideration of the petition for appeal can be prolonged by the chairperson of the economic court or his or her deputy, but by no more than 15 working days.

A resolution of the economic court of the appeal comes into force upon its adoption.

Cassation instance

The judicial decisions of the economic court of the first and appeal instances that have come into force may be appealed in the cassation instance.

The economic court of the cassation instance is the Judicial Chamber for Economic Cases of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus.

A cassation appeal can be submitted within one month from the date of coming into force of the appealed judicial decision.

The cassation appeal shall be considered within one month from the date of arrival of the case to the cassation instance.

Order of supervision

Judicial decisions of the economic courts that have come into force may be reconsidered in the order of supervision only upon the protest of the officials which have the right to move the protests.

The following persons shall have the right to move the protests in the order of supervision:

  • the Chairperson of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus and his deputies;
  • the General Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Belarus and his deputies.


The economic court of the supervising instance shall be:

  • the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus – with regard to the judicial decisions adopted by the economic courts of the first, appeal and cassation instances;
  • the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus – with regard to the decisions of the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus.


The appeal in exercise of supervision on the judicial decision may be submitted within one year from the date of entry of the judicial decision into legal force.

The appeal in exercise of supervision shall be considered by the official within two months from the date of its arrival.

The protests shall be considered:

  • within no more than two months – by the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus,
  • within no more than three months – by the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus.


3.5. Rates of the state fee


Rates of the state fee for consideration of cases in the economic courts are established by the Special Part of the Tax Code of the Republic of Belarus. Their amount depends on a type (property or non-property) and a sum of the claim and other circumstances:

 

Type of the claim

Rates of the statefee

Сlaim of ownership with the amount:

up to 100 base units

15 base units

from 100 to 1 000 base units

5 % of the amount of the claim, but no less than 15 base units

from 1 000 to 10 000 base units

5 % of 1 000 base units
+ 3 % of the amount exceeding 1 000 base units

over 10 000 base units

1% of the amount of the claim, but no less than the amount established in the previous treatment form

Non-property claim submitted by:

legal entities
to the Supreme Court
of the Republic of Belarus

20 base units
for each request (act)

legal entities

to other economic courts

10 base units
for each request (act)

individual entrepreneurs and individuals

5 base units
for each request (act)

An application for writ proceedings with the amount:

up to 100 base units

2 base units

over 100 base units

5 base units

Appeals:

to appeal instance

40 % of the rate established for non-property claim (application, appeal);

40 % of the rate calculated on the basis of the disputed amount - for the claim of ownership

to cassation instance

80 % of the rate established for non-property claim (application, appeal);

80 % of the rate calculated on the basis of the disputed amount - for the claim of ownership

in order of supervision

 

The basic unit is established by the legislation of the Republic of Belarus and since October 1, 2013 has been fixed at the rate of 130 000 Belarusian rubles (BYR), which is approximately equal to 10 Euro.

 

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