Requirements to commercial court assessors can be tightened

Sergei Levichev, attorney, commented on this subject for “Izvestiya” newspaper.

Requirements to commercial court assessors that take part in hearing of cases in Commercial Courts may become more severe that ones to criminal court assessors. It needs to be done to be sure of neutrality and fairness of court assessors, says the representative of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. Duma nation-building and legislation committee recommended deputies to pass a corresponding bill in the first reading. 

The Supreme Court offered the State Duma to improve requirements to commercial court assessors in June 2016. Today they can be summoned for hearing cases in comercial courts upon application of parties, if the dispute is “hard” or of its solving requires “special knowledge in the field of economics, finances, management”. Commercial court assessors take part in adjudgement and in decision making on equal terms with professional judges. Disqualification and self-disqualification rules are also applied to them.

In connection therewith the supreme judicial authority offered to consolidate by law a rule on prohibition of conflict of interests that can affect commercial court assessor’s work. In this regard the Supreme Court offers to specify in law “On commercial court assessors...” that those whose close family member (parents, children, grandkids, grandfathers, grandmothers and siblings) and whose wife’s/husband’s family member is court chairman of vice-court chairman in corresponding trial, cannot be court assessor. The same requirements have already been set for judges themselves, explained its initiative the Supreme Court. Explanatory note says that “The Changes will eliminate doubt of neutrality and fairness of court assessors” <...>

Sergei Levichev, attorney from Pavlova&Partners law firm, thinks that “kinship or similar relationships between commercial court assessor and the court chairman or the vice-court chairman can be basis for commercial court assessor’s disqualification, but it cannot be requirement imposed by the law to candidacy of commercial court assessor, as it is offered in the bill”.

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Ирина Кошечкина