How to enforce court rulings where the state is debtor

Over recent years enforcement of court rulings where the respondent is a state body or enterprise has become a real problem. Former Chornobyl clean-up workers, children of the War, pensioners in possession of court rulings upholding their right to this or that payment have effectively ended up in a hopeless situation where the rulings are simply not enforced.


As a result a great many people have sought to defend their rights in the European Court of Human Rights, and have often won cases with respect to lengthy failure to enforce the rulings from domestic courts.  The European Court has even introduced special procedure in a pilot judgement in order to accelerate examination of such cases.

Ukraine’s state bodies have clearly decided to stop this “unseemly situation”.

Dubious Constitutional Court judgements have appeared which strip people of the possibility of upholding their right to social guarantees through the court. The relevant provisions have also been written into the laws on the State budget for the given year. All of this has given courts at various levels grounds to reject suits regarding the majority of social issues.

Yet this nonetheless does not answer the question. Is it possible in Ukraine to ensure enforcement of court rulings with the State as respondent?

In order to give some kind of answer to this question, the Law on State Guarantees of Enforcement of Court Rulings was adopted. This sets out the specific features of enforcement of rulings where the state is respondent. In this law which came into force on 1 January 2013 there are particular procedures for enforcement of rulings where the state is a state body or enterprise.

Yet here too the government has not avoided major problems. It turns out that state bodies, including the State Treasury, are not ready to implement this law. For an entire month its provisions were empty words and could not be applied due to the lack of amendments needed to Cabinet of Ministers resolutions.

It is important to note that writ documents are presented for implementation during the year following the day that the order to pay the money comes into force. However the law says nothing about what to do with rulings which were passed before this law came into effect and where an entire year has elapsed without them being enforced. In essence such rulings have been left out of this procedure. For them there is no other alternative than to turn to the European Court of Human Rights to defend their rights.

It is too early to assess how well this procedure for implementation of court rulings is working however it is clear that there are problematic areas. Furthermore, according to the 2013 Budget 153.9 million UAH has been allocated for enforcement all court rulings under the budget programme KPKVK 3504040 On ensuring enforcement of court rulings guaranteed by the State. In my opinion this amount is not enough for the state to carry out its obligations according to court rulings.  Since payment is according to who’s first in line, it’s clear that the money will not be found to enforce many rulings.

Therefore if you are in position of a court ruling which orders that the State pay you money, I would advise you to not let the case drag on, but to use the proposed mechanism. If you don’t get into this procedure, then turn to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union is ready to provide you with expert support in making an application to the European Court of Human Rights. The lawyer’s phone number is (044) 383 95 19. 

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