The structure of the Russian judicial system is defined by the Federal Constitutional Law 31.12.1996 N 1-FZ on Judicial System of the Russian Federation (further Federal Law on Judicial System).

 

Art. 4 (3) of the Federal Law on Judicial System provides that the federal judicial system consists of the Constitutional Court, the Courts of general jurisdiction and the Arbitration courts.

 

There are two high instances: The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation. The main goal of the both high courts is judicial supervision over the lower courts and uniformity in judicial interpretation of law.

 

It has to be mentioned that the arbitration courts in spite of their name are part of the state judicial system; they deal exclusively with “economic disputes” (art. 27 APC). If a natural person (not an entrepreneur) is involved in a case, the case is always subject to the jurisdiction of the Courts of general jurisdiction, provided that there are no special provisions in law.

 

There are two main legislative acts, which regulate civil procedure (the term "civil procedure" is general for the procedure in both courts): the Civil Proceedings Code (further CPC) adopted on 23.10.2002 and came into force on 1.02.2003) and the Arbitration Proceedings Code (further APC) (adopted on 14.06.2002 and came into force on 01.09.2002).

 

Both Codes distinguish several proceedings within general civil procedure. Depending on the legal nature of the dispute the case is subject for the adjudication by the court under the provisions for one of the proceedings. Those differences are defined by the fact that in adjudication of some categories of cases a court plays more active role in the process of gathering and requesting evidences.

 

In general civil proceedings in both Courts are the same, but there are also many significant differences. The general similarity of procedure is determined by the fact that the same principles govern the procedure in both courts. In this work, it is of importance to address the following principles:

o              equality of parties to the proceedings (art. 8 APC, art. 12 CPC);

o              adversary proceedings (art. 9 APC, art. 12 CPC).

 

As to the standard of proof required in civil proceedings, the court shall in its free judgment of evidences submitted by the parties reach the subjective conviction that a certain fact is true (art. 71 APC, art. 67 CPC. There is no differentiation between higher and lower standard of proof in Russian civil procedural law like, for example, in German, where a lower standard of proof applies in preliminary proceedings aiming at injunctive relief, and claimant only needs to show a preponderant probability of the alleged facts in order to be granted injunctive relief.

 

Russian civil procedural law does not have rules on disclosure and pre-trial discovery. There are provisions in the APC that parties have to disclose evidences before a hearing in a court. A party may not rely on any document that he fails to disclose unless the court gives permission. This provision is not so much a sanction as an application of the general principle that a party can not rely on evidence without giving in advance adequate notice to the opponent.

 

Both Codes provide for the definition of the term evidence. Evidence is defined as information, obtained according to the APC (or CPC) and other federal laws, about the facts on the basis of which the court establishes the presence or absence of circumstances supporting the demands and objections of the parties and other circumstances material to deciding the case correctly (art. 64 (1) APC and art. 55 (1) CPC).

 

In the course of evaluating evidence a court has to consider its admissibility, relevance and sufficiency.

 

Russian procedural law provides for five means of evidence which are common for the Courts of general jurisdiction and Arbitration courts, namely written evidence, material evidence, expert opinion, witness testimony, explanations of persons participating in the case. The APC specifies also two other means of evidence - audio- and video records and “another documents and materials”.  The purpose of introduction of “another documents and materials” was to provide legal grounds for the use of new form of fixation of information (electronic evidence).



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