Efficiency of process
The judicial system of Uzbekistan belongs to a family of continental legal systems. It consists of specialised courts and is regulated by rules comprehensively codified in written legislative documents, which are easily accessible to citizens and lawyers within and outside of Uzbekistan.
The main legal documents regulating the judicial system are the Constitution, the Law on Courts, the Law on Arbitration Courts and the Law on Enforcement of Judicial Decisions and Decisions of Other Authorities. The main document regulating the judicial process in the business area is the Economic Procedural Code of Uzbekistan. All legal documents are available in Uzbek and Russian languages and are publicly available through official publications and electronic (internet) sources. The official source is www.lex.uz – a national database of Uzbek legislation administered by the Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan. The database is available free of charge in Uzbek and Russian languages and is updated on a daily basis.
The court system of Uzbekistan is straightforward and consists of the following specialised courts:
- The Supreme Economic Court and its regional economic courts in all administrative regions of Uzbekistan. The Supreme Economic Court and its subordinated economic courts are responsible for hearing cases arising from activities of mainly business entities, and disputes between business entities and state authorities.
- The Supreme Court
and its regional, city and district courts in all regions, cities
and districts of Uzbekistan. The Supreme Court and its subordinated
courts are responsible for hearing:
- Civil cases arising from activities of individuals and disputes between individuals and state authorities.
- Criminal cases. Depending on density of population, some courts are authorised to hear both civil and criminal cases of a certain district. Depending on the location of the district, some courts are authorised to hear cases from several neighbouring districts.
- Military cases. Special military courts are established in all regions of Uzbekistan and subordinated directly to the Military Judicial Board of the Supreme Court. Military courts hear military cases in respect of crimes committed by military officers, officers of the national security service, officers of internal affairs, as well as crimes related to breach of state secrets cases.
- The Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court deals exclusively with reviewing laws of Uzbekistan, regulations of the Parliament's chambers, presidential decrees, regulations of government and local authorities, international and other obligations of the Republic of Uzbekistan to ensure their conformity with the Constitution.
- Arbitration courts. Arbitration courts form part of a non-governmental judicial system. Arbitration courts may be established by any legal entities on an ad hoc basis. Arbitration courts hear cases arising out of business or commercial operations between business entities and individuals.
No other courts or alternative judicial authorities exist in Uzbekistan. Uzbek laws establish quite a precise mechanism for judicial settlement of business disputes.
The Economic Procedural Code provides a detailed set of requirements and procedures to file lawsuits and hold judicial hearings. There are four judicial instances to resolve a business dispute in Uzbekistan:
- Court of first instance. This is a regional economic court, which accepts the lawsuit, analyses the case materials and facts and makes a binding judicial decision.
- The appeal instance of regional economic court. This court is formed and consists of judges of the same regional economic court. This judicial instance is responsible to hear any appeals filed by a party to a dispute which does not agree with the judicial decision made by the court of first instance.
- The appeal instance of the Supreme Economic Court. This court is regarded as the highest judicial instance among the economic courts of Uzbekistan. This is a separate judicial instance located in the capital city Tashkent, and is responsible to hear any appeals filed by a party to a dispute which does not agree with the judicial decision made by the court of first instance or the decision made by the appeal instance of a regional economic court.
- Judicial review. This is the last judicial instance. Any cases brought for judicial review are reviewed by members of the Presidium of the Supreme Economic Court appointed from among the judges of the Supreme Economic Court. It does not review cases in accordance with judicial procedures, as in all previous instances. It reviews cases only on the grounds of filings made by either the chairman of the Supreme Economic Court (or his deputies) or Prosecutor General of Uzbekistan (or his deputies). In order for these persons to file for judicial review, a party interested in this judicial instance must address this person in writing and prove commitment of material and procedural breaches by the court of a lower instance which has made a final judicial decision. The established practice shows that judicial review has not become a regular judicial practice to appeal judicial decisions in Uzbekistan. Therefore the appeal instance of the Supreme Economic Court is informally treated as the court of last resort.
In terms of timing, the Economic Procedural Code of Uzbekistan requires judges to make decisions not later than within one calendar month from the date of accepting a lawsuit. This period is allowed to be extended but not by more than one calendar month. Similar time restrictions are also imposed upon the judges of the appeal instances of both the regional and the Supreme Economic Court. In practice, judicial decisions at the court of first instance are usually made within two-three calendar months. Judicial decisions by the appeal instances of both regional and the Supreme Economic Court are usually made within one-two calendar months from the date of accepting the appeal.
The Government of Uzbekistan is continuously working on improvement of the technological and material basis of state courts. In accordance with various decisions made by the President of Uzbekistan and financed by the specialised state Fund for Development of Courts and Departments of Justice, all economic courts have been equipped with modern online video conferencing facilities in 2014-2015. As a result, any company located in any region of Uzbekistan can participate in judicial hearings without physical presence or the necessity to travel to another region. A video conferencing facility is available to all types of persons and disputes heard at economic courts. In order to take advantage of the video conferencing facility, a preliminary notice needs to be filed to the respective economic court to book the video conferencing facility for a particular hearing. Ten days' notice is usually a sufficient period. At the moment, the online video conferencing facility is available for local judicial hearings only. It is expected that this facility may also become available for participants to a judicial dispute located outside of Uzbekistan.
It is also noted that, based on the decision of the Government of Uzbekistan, all state authorities are instructed to commence providing state services and performing certain actions through an electronic portal. Commencing 1 January 2015, the Supreme Economic Court has developed an online system of filing lawsuits electronically through www.oxs.uz. This portal also provides an online library service as well as online secretariat through which participants to a judicial dispute can file official applications and requests and search particular judicial decisions made by economic courts across Uzbekistan. The electronic library is expected to offer full service by the second half of 2016.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.