The judicial system

The judicial system looks fairly straightforward, with the due process for a case moving in commercial disputes from initial consideration at a court of arbitration to a court of appeal and court of cassation, all the way up to the Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation. There are also a myriad of other courts for different cases (district, military courts). You can find out more useful information from the EU-Russia Centre web site, in particular this link on the Judicial System of the Russian Federation.

However, the level of corruption and the lack of experience of the judges have been cited by both Russian and foreign law firms, companies and individuals.

Perhaps the clearest evidence of the dubious nature of the Russian judicial system is demonstrated by the fact that Russians (both individuals, as attested to by the current dispute between Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich, and companies, as attested to by the current litigation between the Russian-UK founders of TNK-BP) tend to prefer arbitration of disputes in the UK or other foreign jurisdictions. Furthermore local law firms in Russia often recommend that their foreign and Russian clients cite arbitration at a foreign court in the case of disputes, with such terminology added to standard contracts. As Russian courts only tend to recognise and enforce foreign court judgments if Russia has concluded a corresponding treaty with the country, the court of which issued the judgment, an investor should be careful when selecting the specific court. Another alternative is to cite an arbitration tribunal, including one based in Russia, as Russia has signed up to an international convention regarding the enforcement of awards issued by such tribunals.

Furthermore an increasing number of individuals and legal entities are taking their cases to the European Court of Human Rights for resolution owing to the biased judgments issued by Russian courts.

To date neither President Dmitry Medvedev nor Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have made any real attempts to reduce the rampant corruption of the judiciary. it is to be hoped that the next President of Russia will do something to rectify this situation.

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