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TOP-10 statutory instruments over the years of Ukraine’s independence


Author: Oleksii Khrystoforov, attorney of law, Head of Kharkiv office, Ilyashev & Partners
Source: «Dzerkalo Tyzhnia»

Each anniversary of our national independence summarizes work carried out for the previous year: the most significant events and trends, achievements and losses, successes and disappointments. In this article we tried to focus on the legal acts adopted for years of our country’s independence, which are the most important for the Ukrainian economy.

1996. The Constitution of Ukraine

The Constitution of Ukraine tops the list. This supreme statutory act adopted after sharp political battles in the summer of 1996 outlines legal framework for functioning of the state and its major institutions, inspired hope for the establishment of a democratic European-type state in our country.

It is difficult to argue that many provisions of the Constitution were and actually remain declarative (if not decorative), because their observation is not secured by the effective coercion mechanisms. However, importance and positive role of the Constitution of Ukraine in the formation of legal system of our country shall not be underestimated.

For the first time in national history, the Constitution of Ukraine enshrined the fundamental principle of the rule of law at the highest legislative level. No one can be above the law, no one can be punished by the state except for breaking the law, and no one can be convicted of a violation of law, except in the manner prescribed by law.

To date, provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine are applied in litigations as rules of direct effect along with «ordinary» rules of the applicable legislation.

1992. Law on Privatization of State Property

The Law of Ukraine «On privatization of state property», No. 2163 –XII, approved by Parliament in March 1992, served as a legal basis for beginning privatization of property, including the notorious means of production, by regulation of basic legal, economic and organizational principles of state property privatization in Ukraine.

Four months later, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the first state privatization program, and three years after issuance of privatization property certificates, controlling stakes of the majority of companies offered for sale at that time were concentrated in the hands of the owners of emerging financial and industrial groups. It was one of the key milestones in development of the national market economy.

1998. Decree on the simplified tax system (single tax)

The Decree «On simplified taxation, accounting and reporting system for small businesses», No. 727/98, signed by the President of Ukraine on July 3, 1998 and introduced the simplified taxation system for small and medium-sized businesses and individual entrepreneurs since 1999. In a year the whole sectors of economy transferred to «uproshchenka», and in this regard the said legal act is the most controversial.

1999. Decree on agricultural sector reform

Decree of the President of Ukraine «On urgent measures to accelerate the agricultural reform», No. 1529/99 dated December 3, 1999, proposed to reform collective farms into farms based on private land and property ownership.

Employees of collective farms obtained the right of free withdrawal from the company with their land and property share (pai) and creation on their basis of private enterprises, peasant and farming enterprises, agricultural cooperatives and other business entities based on private property.

2011. Tax Code

Foreign experts believe that tax legislation of Ukraine has been and is still one of the most complex, contradictory and confusing in the world. In this regard it should be noted that a single document that sets forth an exhaustive list of taxes and fees charged in the state, as well as their administration is a welcome event.

In the future it seems expedient to consolidate two major fiscal regulations – Tax and Customs Codes – into a single document governing both tax relations and customs matters in Ukraine.

2012. New Code of Criminal Procedure

The new Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine came into force in November last year. It is a progressive and revolutionary document. Particularly noteworthy are the judicial procedure for choosing preventive measure and its extension, drastic restriction of remand in custody as a preventive measure, and equal rights and opportunities to collect evidence for the parties of criminal proceedings.

1998. Implementation of deposit guarantee system

Decree of the President of Ukraine «On depositors protection schemes in Ukraine», No. 996/98 dated September 10, 1998, started introduction of the state deposit guarantee system in Ukraine. The initial compensation amounted to 500 hryvnias. Subsequently, the Law of Ukraine «On Depositors Insurance Fund» was approved, and since September 2012 the relevant legal relations are regulated by the Law of Ukraine «On deposit guarantee system». It regulates legal, financial and organizational relations in the system of guaranteeing bank deposits of individuals, relations between Depositors Insurance Fund, banks, the National Bank of Ukraine, sets forth the procedures for payment of refunds on deposits by the Depositors Insurance Fund, defines powers and functions of the fund when removing insolvent banks from the market and winding up banking institutions.

2011. Law on measures to ensure legislative reform of the pension system (pension reform)

In October 2011, the Law of Ukraine «On measures to ensure legislative reform of the pension system» signed by the President of Ukraine became effective. It sets forth inter alia a gradual increase in the retirement age for women from 55 to 60 years, for men – civil servants – from 60 to 62 years.

2012. Amendments to the Civil Code (giving the National Bank of Ukraine the right to limit cash payments)

In September 2012, the Law of Ukraine «On Amendments to Legislative Acts of Ukraine on the functioning of payment systems and development of cashless payments», No. 5284 -VI, came into force. It provided inter alia amendments to the Civil Code of Ukraine, which Article 1069 was amended by the provision, which gives the National Bank of Ukraine the right to set limits for cash transactions both for legal entities and individuals.

In June 2013, the NBU Board decided to limit the maximum amount of cash payments for goods and services by 150 thousand hryvnias from September 1 of the current year.

2012. Law banning smoking in public places

In May 2012, the President of Ukraine signed the Law «On amendments to some laws of Ukraine regarding improvement of some provisions on restriction of smoking places», No. 4844-VI, which provides for a total ban on smoking in public places. Six months later, the document came into force on the whole territory of Ukraine.

At present, the law that establishes quite clear and unambiguous prohibitions and «draconian» penalties for their violation is openly ignored everywhere and at all levels both in the hallway of the Parliament and in the «snack-bar» in the district center.

In our opinion, this situation demonstrates that the state has to and, just as importantly, can provide actual implementation of the law, but for some reason fails to do it.

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