The highest courts’ activities as a factor establishing precedent in the capacity of a source of Ukrainian law
The Ukrainian legislation does not apply the term «precedent». It is understandable for the legal system of the Romano-Germanic family. However, judicial precedents serve as de facto source of Ukrainian law. Activities of the highest judicial institutions, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and the Supreme Court, providing guidelines on application of particular legal rules are principal contributors for this state of affairs. The paper provides an overview of such activities in order to evaluate the process and its prospects.
Covering the ECtHR activities, it is noted that the key elements of precedent law, such as application of stare decisis doctrine, ratio decidendi and obiter dictum components in decisions, are available there. Ukrainian courts are obliged by the statutes to apply ECtHR judgements and decisions in their own cases. Hence, the judicial precedents created by the ECtHR are the source of Ukrainian law. This discussion is followed by an analysis of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine decisions. It is concluded that been interpretative precedents they serve as a source of law as well. The third institution under examination, the Supreme Court, is empowered, inter alia, to formulate in its rulings guidelines for the application of law in a variety of situations. Since such rules are binding on the courts and other authorities, they have inherent features of the precedents and should be considered as a source of law.
The article summarizes that Ukraine falls within the continental Europe’s general trend. It implies the significant growth of the role of the European and national courts as a rule-making institutions resulting in reinforcement of the precedent as a source of law and its formalization in terms of the civil law jurisdictions. In general, such process allowing prompt adaptation to the contemporary realities is positive. To facilitate it, the term «precedent» have to be introduced into the practical area. In particular, the role of judicial precedent as a source of law should be reflected in the Ukrainian procedural legislation.
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