KW decided in this week’s issue to recommend 5 steps in order to seriously reduce the level of corruption in Ukrainian courts. KW correspondents asked a number of renowned lawyers: “What must be done to stem the tide in courts in principle?”

All lawyers without exception believe the introduction of a common law should be the main step in resolving the problem of corruption in the system of justice. “In this case, judges should not have any grounds to hand down a contrary ruling in cases with similar circumstances,” says Andriy Reun, Manager of the Tax and Legal Consulting Department at KPMG Ukraine.

“We need to do way with the position of court chairmen. Now, when all cases should be distributed through an electronic system, such a position is a relapse. On the other hand, when a chief justice has any chance of meddling with the procedure, there will always be somebody who orders such intervention,” says managing partner of the Moris Group Andriy Romanchuk.

Within the framework of commercial and civil judicial proceedings it would be rational to introduce the mechanism of pre-trial settlement of disputes. Should a case not make it to court, it is quickly considered and those who lose the case are obligated to pay all expenses and fees (including the attorney’s fee).

Some experts suggest another way of uprooting corruption. “Extension of a judge’s term in office upon expiration of the first term should be introduced and judges should be held personally responsible for losses incurred by their rulings that were recalled,” says Reun. Within this context public control over the actions of judges is crucial. “We may deprive them of their titles (or discontinue their authorities) if a certain number of people residing in counties under the jurisdiction of a particular court sign in favor of this,” suggests Minin.

We can introduce the notion of presumption of guilt for judges. In such case judges suspected of taking bribes must prove their innocence. Such a principle was registered legislatively for the first time in the UK and was in effect for nearly a century,” suggested a lawyer at Hramatskiy and Partners Mykhailo Soroka.