On 10 July 2018, the Russian State Duma passed a bill* in the second reading, which allows independent cassation courts of general jurisdiction to be created analogously with the commercial court model. In connection with this bill, the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation has adopted Resolution No. 20*, which proposes, in particular, amendments to the Civil Procedure Code.
These changes in legislation will be important, especially for companies selling to consumers and employers since disputes over consumer protection and employment are considered in courts of general jurisdiction.
Usually courts of cassation review cases as a court of third instance (i.e. after consideration of the case by a court of first instance, and then by an appellate instance).
Theoretically, a case can then be reviewed by the Judicial Collegium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, but this is extremely rare.
As a reminder, at present courts of appeal and cassation courts of general jurisdiction are based in the same court. Furthermore, cassation claims are considered by judges of the same court, and the right to judicial protection within the cassation instance is substantially limited. In particular, the court of cassation may not consider a claim if it does not find grounds for doing so.
In practice, the appellate instance is in fact “final” in the system of courts of general jurisdiction, since most cassation claims are rejected by the court of cassation without consideration of their merits.
Appellate and cassation courts will now be located separately from each other and may even be located in different cities and regions.
In addition to creating courts of appeal of general jurisdiction, the procedure for considering civil cases in a court of cassation will in fact be similar to commercial proceedings, where a cassation claim must be examined by the court on its merits.
The amendments are aimed at changing the powers of the cassation courts, as well as the procedure for reviewing cassation claims.
In particular, changes have been made to the timeframe and procedure for filing cassation claims, the timeframe and procedure for examining cassation claims in a court session, and the grounds for repealing or changing judicial decisions.
Independent cassation courts of general jurisdiction will be structurally separate, and the right to judicial protection in the courts of cassation instance will be expanded. These changes should improve the quality of review by courts of general jurisdiction, and expand the objectivity and independence of the justice system.
At the same time, judicial representation costs will obviously increase since cases in courts of cassation will now become widespread.
The decision on when the cassation courts start operating is to be taken by the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. According to the bill, this decision should be made no later than 1 October 2019.
* In Russian