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PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Good afternoon, colleagues,
The agenda of our traditional meetings with the judges serving in arbitration and general jurisdiction courts usually includes key measures to improve the judicial system. However, it is evident that the work of the courts is assessed according to a wide range of criteria. At our meeting today, to which we have invited judges from municipal and district courts, I would like us to address one matter: how does our judiciary affect the investment climate and to what extent it contributes to its improvement.
We have been paying a great deal of attention to the investment climate but a meeting such as this one, held with representatives of the judicial system and dedicated specifically to this issue is the first of its kind. I would like to hear your views about the role the judicial system can play in the implementation of public policies to encourage investment.
While drafting measures to promote investment we try to look at this subject through investors’ eyes, to stand in their shoes. Especially since the right decisions are usually born not from abstract reasoning but in dialogue with those from whom we expect the flow of both new investments and new technologies and management techniques. Naturally, investors always assess the conditions in which they are going to work, both the benefits and the risks.
I think everyone also understands that those who invest money in the economy rely on its stability and predictability, as well as effective protection of their rights.
”At our meeting today, to which we have invited judges from municipal and district courts, I would like us to address one matter: how does our judiciary affect the investment climate and to what extent it contributes to its improvement.“
I am sure you have noticed that the investment climate has changed in recent years. I have repeatedly said that I do not consider it perfect, but nevertheless the climate is changing. This is evident from what we hear from our partners, including foreigners, who just a few years ago named the shortcomings of the judicial system as one of the main reasons why they are reluctant to invest in our country. But now reproaches of the Russian judicial system are rarely heard, and only certain court decisions are criticised, which is probably to be expected because this kind of criticism exists in all countries.
However, despite the improvement of legislation, despite the simplification of tax regimes and strengthening of safeguards to protect property rights, the amount of litigation has not diminished. You are aware of that from personal experience. In fact, the total number of cases has increased. According to the Arbitration Court, the number of bankruptcy cases has increased 1,700% in the past two years. I am not sure how accurate this figure is but if it is true, that is a lamentable indicator. Therefore, I would like to hear your suggestions for dealing with the excessive load on the judicial system. This load will always affect the quality of decisions, and that is also understandable.
We also do our best to widely introduce the so-called conciliation procedures, which are designed not only to relieve the courts but also to reduce the level of conflict in society. In many countries, up to 80% of disputes can be resolved with the help of such procedures.
The creation of the so-called financial arbitration, which could consider some specialised issues, is currently under discussion but this requires further analysis.
There is another matter on which I have already made my opinion known. I am referring to the Patent Court. I would like to say, but in this case not to you but to the Russian Government, that I did not make this suggestion for the Government members to practice their judicial wit. If they are not able to prepare a relevant document, I will submit it myself. In this case we will discuss the timeframe for introducing this new type of court.
Another measure that can be adopted is the overall improvement of legislation on the judicial system. I would like to start by hearing your views on this matter and to think about it together.
Finally, one more point to conclude my brief opening remarks. You represent a wide variety of regions, and the investment situation in the regions also varies. I would like to know how far you feel is the difference in the activity. I am referring to regional differences and their resulting impact on the investment climate.
That is all I wanted to say to begin with. Let's get to work.