Russian courts go into quarantine

26 mars 2020

In view of Russia's national measures against the spread of COVID-19, on 18 March 2020 the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and Presidium of the Judges Council of the Russian Federation suspended most hearings in the country's courts.

The restriction covers the arbitration (commercial) courts, which includes the IP Court, as well as the general courts.

The decree is effective as of 19 March 2020 and remains in force until 10 April 2020. During this period, the courts will hear time-sensitive cases concerning selection, extension, cancellation or amendment of preventive measures, protection of the interests of a minor or a person declared legally incompetent, and other such cases only. The courts will continue to rule on matters where the proceedings do not require the personal presence of the parties.

Further, the decree has imposed a number of measures, which are intended to limit social contact and to protect the health of court attendees and employees. The restrictions will affect the following aspects of the court process:

  • court filings are only possible via the online court filing system or by post – filing in person is temporarily unavailable;
  • where technical means allow for it, courts are instructed to hold the hearings by videoconference; and
  • access to court premises for persons not participating in the hearings is restricted. The limitation does not concern media representatives; however, the judge may decide not to let the public in the courtroom.

All judges and court staff are instructed to self-isolate at the slightest sign of illness.

This quarantine is unprecedented for the modern Russian court system. It is currently unclear how the suspension will affect the limitation periods and procedural filing terms. The Supreme Court is expected to issue clarifications in the near future as to how these issues will be managed.

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