On February 27, 2017, Law No. 49-VI on Amendments to Certain
Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Relation to
Issues of Improvement of the Civil Law, Banking Law and Improvement
of Conditions of Business Activity was adopted (the Amendment Law).
The Amendment Law was published on 1 March 2017 and became
effective ten calendar days thereafter, save for specific
provisions with different effective dates.
Among a number of changes to the various pieces of legislation,
the Amendment Law repealed the infamous provision of Law No. 488-V
on Arbitration dated April 8, 2016 (the Law on Arbitration) which
expressly allowed the parties to withdraw unilaterally from an
arbitration agreement in accordance with Article 404 of the Civil
Procedure Code based on a simple notice.
It is a universal principle that a valid arbitration agreement
has to be honored by the parties. At the time of adoption, the
provision permitting unilateral withdrawal from such agreement
caused concerns among academics, legal and commercial professionals
and other parties affected by it.
The Amendment Law also introduced a few notable changes to the
Civil Procedure Code. Some of these changes impose a more
active role on the court in the distribution of case materials
(claim, response to claim and the attachments thereto) to the
claimant and the defendant respectively, while other changes make
certain procedural timeframes shorter in an attempt to make the
court proceedings more efficient.
First, the claimant and the defendant—upon filing in hard
copy the claim and the response to claim respectively—will
have to submit extra copies of the claim/response to claim and the
attachments for further distribution by the court of the submitted
documents to the adverse party and any third parties involved in
the case. The court must send or hand in the submitted documents
within three business days upon receipt. Before adoption of the
Amendment Law, the obligation of distributing the case materials to
the opposite party and third parties was imposed on the person
submitting the documents (claimant, defendant). That person, upon
filing the documents with the court, had to attach documentary
proof that the documents had been duly sent at the address of the
adverse party and third parties.
Importantly, upon filing the claim/response to claim
electronically there is no obligation on the person doing the
filing to submit additional copies for further distribution to the
other parties. Presumably, it is supposed that the court would
print out all the documents filed electronically and send the
printed copies to the parties.
Second, the defendant is now obliged to submit a response to
claim within 10 business days upon receipt of claim.
Previously, there was no such fixed timeframe, and the defendant
was ordered to submit the response within the timeline established
by the court. This shorter term for filing the response
imposes a bigger burden on the defendant making the process of
preparation of their statement of defense more acute and pressing
as opposed to the claimant who would normally have more time to
prepare the claim before filing it with the court.
Third, a first court hearing on the merits must now be held no
later than 10 business days upon completion of the preparatory
stage of the proceedings. Before this amendment, the court had
discretion to schedule a substantive hearing within reasonable term
upon the end of the preparatory stage but in any event within the
relevant periods for consideration of a case.
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