Judicial reform: the "green light" to accelerate municipal debts collection

16.08.2010

Senior Partner of Konnov and Sozanovsky Sergei Konnov believes that the introduction of simplified procedures for consideration of debt disputes could create a ground for abuse by municipal offices and other community services as to the calculation of payments, demands for non-existent debts payment, as well as significantly eliminates the citizens’ rights to challenge the legality of community services’ actions.

Mr. Konnov passed his opinion in an interview with the "Today" Newspaper, commenting on the innovations of the Law of Ukraine "On the Judicial System and Status of Judges", which entered into the force on 30th July 2010.

Sergei Konnov explained that under the new rules a court order as a simplified form of judicial decision can be applied to community charges debts. The court renders a judgment on the application of municipal offices within three days, without court sessions and servicing of summons to both parties, in particular - citizens. Additionally, under the provisions of the new law the period for appeal of court orders is reduced and the procedure for reversal thereof is complicated.

"In such situation it is quite problematic to challenge the court order and the amount of debt, charged by community services, without preparation and assistance of a legal counsel, as long as the "debtor" does not have enough time to collect all necessary documents and carry on communication and correspondence with municipal offices legally and competently, as well as to stand his/her ground court", - said Sergei Konnov.

In addition, according to the law, if the payer failed to prove the contrary, the debts, upon court judgment rendered in favour of municipal offices will be recovered through enforcement proceedings, including through arrest and sale of citizens’ property.

Such procedures for consideration of debt disputes, according to Mr Konnov, are fraught with risks of abuse by municipal offices and other involved services.

"We are not talking about the fact that debts shall not be paid. They should be recovered if they are charged correctly. But there is no guarantee that there will be no abuse on the part of municipal offices that may assign to the debtor any amounts, while the court, because of the heavy workload, may not simply go deeply into the numbers", - said the lawyer.

To avoid such situation when the court has already decided in favour of municipal offices and a citizen has obtained the court order for debt recovery, the amount or existence of which may not be agreed with, it is necessary to apply to the court for such order cancellation and prepare documents substantiating the position of the payer. The latter may include paid invoices, acts of reconciliation of counters indicators, correspondence with municipal offices etc. In any case, the reason for revision of a court decision may not be the debtor’s argument on lack of money or unwillingness to pay without any legal basis.