President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Lebedev, you have probably had time to gather some experience since the merger between the Higher Arbitration Court and the Supreme Court. How is the work going?
President of The Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev: Mr President, we have reviewed the court’s work since the merger. Looking at the court system’s work and the matters of substance, we see that everything is running in accordance with the Supreme Court’s legal positions.
A lot of work has been done. The whole merger process was not easy, but the difficulties involved did not affect the justice system, which continued to do its job. It is enough to note that the general jurisdiction and arbitration courts examined more than 15 million civil cases alone.
We have analysed these cases and the most frequently encountered ambiguities. After all, the point in merging the two highest courts was to get rid of ambiguity in the courts’ application of the laws. This then was our purpose, and over these last five months we have clarified the legal situation regarding more than 30 issues where we previously had completely different interpretations of how to apply this or that law. Our main task is to put an end to these ambiguities, and this work is proceeding as planned. Ambiguity in any area of activity can cause negative consequences, but in the court system it can lead to mistakes that end up limiting people’s rights and freedoms. I cannot think of anything more negative for the courts’ work.
Now, we are drafting quarterly reviews of court practice and drafting joint – now common – Supreme Court Plenum resolutions. Taking into account the amendments to the Civil Code, we have a very busy work plan for this year in various types of cases. We have already drafted and will approve a Supreme Court Plenum resolution with clarifications on a number of other matters.
This year is a difficult one and we expect to see an increase in cases concerning insolvency and bankruptcy. Given the current circumstances, we can probably expect to see more cases concerning obligations not being met or not carried out in due fashion. We will have to monitor all of this very closely and the judges will need to take every possible care to ensure that they apply the law correctly and uphold positions in accordance with the Constitution and the law alone.
Overall, work is proceeding smoothly. We have not filled all positions yet but are currently examining candidates for the post of judge very thoroughly. The court is working in constructive and I would even say creative spirit. We have good intellectual potential.
Vladimir Putin: There is no need for me to underscore the importance of your work and of the court system as a whole. You have no doubt heard criticism too, and we all know that criticism is a normal part of life. But I believe in our court system’s foundations and I think that this decision to merge the two courts should improve court practice so that people of this nation can be sure that they have a court that really does protect their rights.
I am sure that you have some practical, routine matters to discuss. Let’s do this now.