In addition, eleven Higher Arbitration Court judges and presidents of regional arbitration courts received the title of Honoured Jurist of the Russian Federation.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues, judges, and friends,
I want to start by congratulating you on this symbolic date – the 20th anniversary of Russia’s arbitration court system. As you know, work began on establishing this system at a time when its creation was vital for the success of our country’s overall democratic development and for ensuring real and full protection of our citizens’ economic interests.
The state arbitration bodies working during the Soviet period were designed for the planned economy, and the new Russia required a court system that would be able to settle economic disputes in a market environment. Although this system was established in record time, it works very professionally and has always carried out its duties in a very responsible manner.
The arbitration court system has never stopped developing and has continued to move forward throughout these last 20 years. The judges have shown through their work that they not only protect interests effectively, but are capable of change. It is true that the court system overall should be conservative, and for good reason, but at the same time, as with everything in this world, it also must be capable of change.
The changes that have taken place include the establishment of arbitration court districts that do not coincide with the country’s territorial administrative divisions, and also the decision to make the appeal and cassation courts separate and independent bodies. This has considerably bolstered judges’ independence.
New technology plays a huge part in life today, and I think the introduction and use of high technology in the arbitration courts’ everyday work has been a big success. Exchange of information between the arbitration courts in the different regions takes place practically instantaneously now and decisions are published on the websites literally minutes after being pronounced.
Any judge and any citizen or foreigner interested in Russian court practice now has a colossal store of information at their disposal on millions of cases, and the system’s openness guarantees that laws and legal approaches will be applied in identical fashion in every case, no matter in which region a court is located. This is crucial for forming a common legal environment throughout our whole country.
Not so long ago, if you recall, judges in the regions learned of decisions by the Higher Arbitration Court’s presidium or plenum weeks and even months later. Today, the speed at which the Russian arbitration court system examines cases is looking very good indeed.
The work done to facilitate citizens’ access to justice is also noteworthy. I am referring here to the possibility people now have for filing statements in the arbitration court via e-mail or by videoconference, and the various other options that the arbitration court judges are trying out and using in their work.
I want to note the contribution the arbitration courts have made to developing civil law and arbitration law doctrine. The Higher Arbitration Court has traditionally played the leading part here and has indeed gathered under its roof a collection of outstanding specialists in civil law and civil arbitration law. It is not by chance many practicing lawyers and jurists in Russia see this date that we are marking today as a celebration for everyone working in the civil law field in our country.
Over the last 7 years alone, the [Higher Arbitration] Court has drafted significant changes to the arbitration legislation that have radically transformed the arbitration system and the approaches taken to resolving tax, anti-monopoly, corporate, administrative, and intellectual property disputes.
These innovations have helped to develop our justice system in the economic sphere. Overall, the result is now a very high level of standardisation that is needed for implementing the provisions of material and procedural law.
All of us here today are lawyers by training and we all understand how important this is. Not only lawyers realise this importance. It has become commonplace to speak of just how important it is for Russia to have fair and effective courts, whether general jurisdiction or arbitration courts. This is essential of course to ensure a modern investment climate and business development. In this area we still have a lot of work ahead.
Each of you here today has made a great contribution to building this highly professional arbitration court system. I want to thank you most sincerely for this responsible work that is so important for our country.
On such celebratory occasions it is customary to address not just words of thanks but also present state decorations, which I will do now. Let’s begin the award ceremony.
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We cannot rest on our laurels, and I therefore want to say that the authorities will always do everything to ensure that the arbitration court system continues to develop and improve, that our judges feel protected, receive deserved material recompense for their work, and that the quality of our arbitration courts’ work is of the highest standard.
Life is not about routine work alone. The contacts we have with our colleagues abroad are also very important. Through these contacts we learn from them and they study very thoroughly what we are doing. I hope that our practice will also give them some good things to make use of.
We have established an excellent dialogue with various countries, including with countries with which our dialogue in other areas is not so intensive. It is with pleasure that I present this high decoration, the Order of Friendship, to the honoured Japanese law professor Hiroshi Oda, a prominent specialist on Russian commercial law, and I congratulate him and wish him all the very best.