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BIICL Roundtable on Ukraine attended by the Presidents of the Supreme Courts of Ukraine and the UK

Leading judiciary and experts gather at BIICL to discuss support for Ukraine's courts and legal reform programme.

On 30 January 2023 the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) hosted the Roundtable "Ukrainian courts and the justice system during a war".

The Roundtable was attended by a delegation of senior judges and politicians from Ukraine, led by the President of the Ukrainian Supreme Court, Vsevolod Knyazev. Ukrainian participants also included His Excellency Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Kingdom, Vadym Prystaiko and Sergii Ionushas MP, Head of the Legal Reform Commission under the President of Ukraine and Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Law Enforcement.

The Roundtable was chaired by BIICL President, The Right Hon. Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (2012-2017). Keynote addresses were given by The Right Hon. Lord Reed of Allermuir, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom Mr Knyazev, President of Ukraine's Supreme Court. UK participants included Sir Anthony Hooper, Deputy Chair of the Ethics Council of Ukraine and retired judge of the Court of Appeal, and Professor Spyros Maniatis, Director of BIICL.

Also attending were representatives from the Ministry of Justice and the EBRD as well as senior UK judges and legal experts on war crimes and reparations, law reform and court digitisation programmes.

The Ukraine delegation informed the participants about the situation in Ukraine. Supreme Court Judge, Ivan Mishchenko, gave a presentation on "Judicial institutions capacity building: the process of selection and appointment of members of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges in Ukraine"; Supreme Court Judge, Tetyana Antsupova, presented "Ukraine and the Legal Framework for Justice and Accountability, and Supreme Court Judge, Olena Kibenko, presented "Digital transformation of the Ukrainian courts and judiciary at the time of war".

The issues discussed included:

  • The setting up of a specialised international tribunal for crimes of aggression and other international mechanisms for prosecution of war crimes;
  • Sanctions and mechanisms for reparations, seizures and asset recovery;
  • Capacity of Ukrainian courts and enforcement agencies to prosecute war crimes;
  • The setting up of the judicial institutions, namely the High Council of Justice and High Qualification Commission of judges, responsible for selecting, vetting and appointment of judges;
  • Capacity building of Ukrainian judiciary including training programmes for judges, implementation of digital technology in the work of courts;
  • Setting up of a specialised court on IP and investment to support the technological development and reconstruction of Ukraine.

The Roundtable was moderated by Maria Tymofienko, Project Coordinator and Research Associate at BIICL and Helen Dodds OStJ, Honorary Senior Fellow at BIICL. The Roundtable was sponsored by Mishcon de Reya.

Following the Roundtable, BIICL organised meetings for the Ukrainian delegation with UK Government's representatives including the Attorney-General, The Right Hon. Victoria Prentis KC MP, Ministers of Justice, The Right Hon. Mike Freer and Lord Bellamy as well as Sir John Whittingdale MP OBE and other members of the UK Parliament. The delegation also met with Sir Geoffrey Vos, Master of the Rolls and visited the UK's Supreme Court

The President of Ukraine's Supreme Court Mr Knyazev thanked his British colleagues for all their support as well as UK's leadership in helping Ukraine during the war, including the assistance provided to judges, their families and all the Ukrainian refugees that found a safe home in the UK.

Speaking about the event Lord Neuberger said ""At BIICL, our scholars work on a broad range of international law issues, including state responsibility, displaced persons, cultural heritage, business and human rights, laws of war and other important and contemporary topics. We will continue to engage with leading international and Ukrainian experts, representatives of the judicial community, governmental officials and international organisations in order to provide expert support and advice to Ukraine, while at the same time learning from developments in law and practice in Ukraine"

BIICL Ukraine International Law Response 

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