Parliament weakens protection of property rights

As reported earlier, at the end of last year the Verkhovna Rada cancelled a number of legislative provisions regarding the amount of time for lodging civil suits. The previous arrangement had served as additional guarantees protecting violated rights, including the right of ownership.

It was previously possible over a period of five years to lodge a civil claim for an agreement reached through the use of violence or deception to be declared void 

The time limit is now three years.

An agreement aimed at unlawful seizure of State property may now only be challenged within the space of three years, and not 10 as before.

Roman Kuybida, Deputy Head of the Centre for Political and Legal Reform, commented earlier that Law No. 9635 on Procedure for Court Proceedings makes it possible to ensure possession of property received through dubious court rulings or decisions from administrative bodies, or by criminal means

As the authors of the new report state, the longer periods for lodging a claim or appeal had been established by the legislators in view of the need to protect people from violations of their constitutional rights and liberties, from destruction or damage to property or unlawful seizure.  In many cases involving property, the deception, or damage, may simply not be evident immediately. The longer time frame took this into account.

The norm has also been revoked which stated that any time restriction on lodging an appeal did not apply to the demand from an owner or other individual to have a legal act issued by State authorities or bodies of local self-government  which violated their property or other material rights declared invalid.

Lawyer Leonid Tarasenko from the company Yurydychny Holding points out that in such cases people now only have three years.  The Verkhovna Rada gave no explanation for these changes to the time limits, and he is also convinced that the changes are aimed at preventing any efforts to question decisions by the authorities which violate property rights. “The right of ownership becomes less inviolable since one of the guarantees for this inviolability has been revoked”.

Roman Kuybida is convinced that in fact the law will give a free hand to those involved in illegal seizures and those who use their official position or links with those in power through dubious or criminal deals to obtain property rights to land plots, enterprises’ properties, flats etc.

“There can be no doubt that the President also has an interest in signing this law since then nobody will be able to demand Mezhyhirya [the President’s reported sumptuous residence, occupied by him under at very least unclear circumstances – translator). It is precisely in three years that Yanukovych’s term as President ends”, Mr Kuybida explains.

“At the same time the law creates problems, for examples, for Ukrainian nationals who have worked abroad for years and who, having returned home, discover that all their property has long not belonged to them. The law does not give them a chance to defend their right to the property”.


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