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Human rights in Ukraine – 2007. 14. Property rights

   

[1]

1. Overview

Observance of property rights has always been rather problematical for Ukraine due to the inadequacy of the judiciary, failings in regulation of residential and land relations and the lack of registration of property rights on various sites. This year was no exception to the general trend over recent years for a deterioration of the situation.

We would highlight certain key elements worthy of note. This is in the first instance the problem of enforcement of court rulings as one of the basic issues in defending property rights. It is vital that the presently inadequate court control over enforcement of rulings be tightened.  This particularly applies to bailiffs who are failing to fully carry out their duties on enforcing court rulings.  There is effectively the paradoxical situation at present where even at a legislative level, the State defends the debtor more than those endeavouring to retrieve debts, and provides legal opportunities for them to avoid implementing court rulings. In addition, there is still a moratorium on compulsory sale of the property of State enterprises and those of the fuel and energy industry, with these in many cases being extremely profitable enterprises.  We thus have the ongoing situation where some are required to implement court rulings, while others are granted an exception.

It is equally important to mention that in 2007 an effective system for registering rights to different forms of real estate did not end up being created with this in turn leading to an exacerbation of the problem of seizure by force of land or enterprises. No legislative act was passed to regulate the activities of joint stock companies, and provide clear, understandable and transparent rules for privatization. All of this makes the problem of raider takeovers very real.

2007 also did not bring an end to the moratorium on the sale of agricultural land which is one of the reasons for continuing violations of the right of owners to dispose of their property, and for the development of dodgy set ups for selling land.

Cases of fraud and machinations with housing and land remain common. The government has failed to create an effective system to protect against such abuse and the victims of such crimes remain effectively left to deal with their problems alone.

At the same time the situation has developed where theft of property on a small scale, that is, up to 772 UAH, is not defined as a crime, which in turn leads to the lack of protection of the property rights of people for whom this figure is by no means an amount not worth mentioning.

We must also mention the dangerous situation which has emerged with the appropriation of property to meet public needs. During 2007 attempts were made to approve normative acts which posed a clear threat to the rights of owners of land sites and housing. For example, the Verkhovna Rada passed a Law “On appropriation of land in private property” which was later vetoed by President Yushchenko. It also considered a draft Housing Code which copies many dangerous norms from the Law On comprehensive reconstruction of residential areas (micro-districts) from the obsolete housing fund, which could seriously weaken property rights on residential accommodation.

 

2. Safeguards of property rights

State registration of property rights on real estate

One of the most important safeguards of property rights is provided by a transparent and effective system of State registration of the right to real estate. This provides official State recognition and legal confirmation of property rights.

At present registration of rights to various types of real estate is carried out by different bodies on different databases, while registration of the rights to certain types of property is not envisaged at all. For example, registration of land sites is undertaken by land resources offices, while the right to the real estate on plots of land is carried out by the bureau for technical inventory, notaries are responsible for registering bans and arrests on appropriation of sites or buildings, and mortgages.

A Law “On State registration of material rights to real estate and limitations of these rights” was passed on 1 July 2004. This envisages a single State register of rights based on State records of land sites of all forms of property and other real estate located on them, the registration of material rights to items of real estate, their restrictions and authority in relation to real estate. However his law has not been implemented.

Admittedly this law does not allow for the integration of the database of the State Register of Rights with those of such registers as the Single Register of Bans on Appropriation of Real Estate, the State Register of Legal Authority, the State Register of Mortgages which clearly indicates that it is impossible to achieve a full State register of rights.

Furthermore, the State Register of Mortgages and the Single Register of Bans on Appropriation of Real Estate are “open” registers” meaning that extracts from them are available to any individual or legal entity. At the same time, according to the law, a restricted circle of people entitled to receive information from the State Register of Rights is established. This means that these registers will have to become virtually closed to access, which will restrict the present scope of the right to information.

In 2007 President Yushchenko vetoed the Law “On amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On State registration of the material rights to real estate”. The idea behind these amendments was to hand responsibility for State registration of real estate property rights and restrictions of such rights with the Ministry of Justice and to create a single system of registration of real estate property rights and their restrictions within this ministry. However, at the same time, the amendments could make exercising these rights to real estate, including land sites, more difficult.

Thus, in Ukraine virtually nothing is improving with regard to registering rights to real estate, and in fact the situation is worsening.

Another problem is the lack of clear legal regulation for the revoking of collective ownership and the existence of several legislative acts which treat this issue in different ways. For example, the Law “On property” recently became void as therefore did the general norms on the right of collective ownership. However the legislators did not allow for transitional norms when revoking this form of property, for example, as regards registration of rights which leads to discrepancies and numerous conflicts.

 

Protection of property rights to corporate rights

Another of the burning issues in Ukraine is safeguarding property rights during hostile mergers. According to World Bank estimates, Ukraine is trailing badly in their rating for protection of property rights, and hostile and unlawful mergers have taken on particularly large proportions.[2]  All of this is linked with inadequacies in legislation which is failing to adequately impede corporate raid attacks on enterprises and organizations.  We would highlight in this respect procrastination in passing a comprehensive law on joint stock companies, the lack of transparency and contradictions in legislation which is intended to regulate the privatization process.

The weak protection of property rights has also been acknowledged by the Supreme Court which recently approved recommendations on fighting corporate raiding which recognize that lack of normative regulation and legislative clashes prepare the ground for carrying out corporate raids. It notes that among other things, the attacks are being organized with the help of lawful means, using legislative failings and discrepancies, as well as abusing the law.

One of the most vital methods for safeguarding property rights is to improve the court system, especially anti-corruption mechanisms. It is the courts which provide the main mechanism for defending these rights and where they are not functioning as they should, the scope becomes wide for corporate raid takeovers, non-transparent privatization and re-privatization, as well as other rights infringements.

 

Enforcement of court rulings protecting property rights

One of the greatest problems at present is linked with enforcement of court rulings defending property rights.

This is both a general problem reflecting the inefficiency of the system for enforcement of court rulings, discussed in more detail in the unit on the right to a fair trial, and the result of specific problems linked with property rights.

The procedure for sale of the property of debtors seized during enforcement proceedings remains inadequate and complicated. The State Bailiffs are effectively deprived of any control of this stage of the proceedings. As a result of this, the sale of seized property is often carried out with infringements of the law which drags out the time periods for enforcement; the property’s value is reassessed, and its market value often underestimated. There have been cases where the proceeds of the sale have been re-channelled to specialist organizations. Statistics also paint a gloomy picture. In 2007 property valued at 746.4 million UAH presented by the State Bailiffs was awaiting sale in specialist retail organizations. Property worth 215 million UAH, or less than a third, was sold. It should be noted that over recent years there has been a reduction in the level of sales of debtor property.

A significant problem influencing the entire system of legal procedure in the country is posed by the lack of an effective mechanism for enforcing rulings on recouping debts from the State and State sector institutions. We would note that it is precisely this which is generating numerous applications to the European Court of Human Rights.

In 2007 8, 115 writ documents for a figure of over 73 million UAH were due for enforcement as per court rulings. Only 3, 476 were executed, less than half.

Problems are also caused by a number of legal norms which directly prohibit repayment of debts through the seizure of certain types of property.  There is, for example, a moratorium on compulsory sale of the property of State enterprises and those of the fuel and energy industry (which are, incidentally, the most financially viable enterprises around), with this making the enforcement of a significant number of rulings impossible. 

In connection with the Law “On imposing a moratorium on the compulsory sale of possessions”, passed back in 2001,  execution was made more difficult on almost 88 thousand writs, amounting to over 6 billion UAH, this being a third of the total amount from enforcement proceedings suspended due to various moratoriums.

Furthermore, the adding of enterprises to the Register of Enterprises of the Fuel and Energy Industry which take part in the procedure for repayment of debt in accordance with the Law “On measures aimed at ensuring the stable functioning of enterprises of the fuel and energy industry”, makes it impossible to retrieve considerable amounts on the basis of writ documents on retrieving debt from enterprises of the fuel and energy industry, including money owed in wage arrears.

We should also mention the procedure for adding enterprises to the above-mentioned Register. The lack of clear criteria, as well as the fact that the Ministry of Fuel and Energy has been given the right to add enterprises to the Register, in practice leads to numerous cases of abuse and unconcealed corruption. On the basis of such decisions, enforcement was stopped on 45.3 thousand writ documents for a sum of almost 9 billion UAH.  Of this, more than 25 million UAH was on the basis of court rulings on paying back debts on unpaid wages.

In connection with bankruptcy proceedings initiated by economic courts, the enforcement of 54, 8 writ documents was suspended, involving a sum of 5.8 billion UAH. Overall, at the beginning of 2008, according to the Law “On enforcement proceedings”, almost 169 thousand writ documents amount to a figure in excess of 18 billion UAH had been stopped.

Overall in Ukraine at the present time, the possibility of not enforcing court rulings is legislatively affirmed by the following laws:

-   “On particular features of privatization of enterprises of the State joint stock company “Ukrrudprom”;

-  “On pipeline transportation”;

-  “On imposing a moratorium on the compulsory sale of possessions”

-  “On measures of State support for the shipbuilding industry in Ukraine”;

-  “On measures aimed at ensuring the stable functioning of enterprises of the fuel and energy industry”..

Article 124 § 5 of the Constitution states that judicial decisions are adopted by the courts in the name of Ukraine and are mandatory for execution throughout the entire territory of Ukraine. Therefore no laws may establish norms restricting the enforcement of such rulings. Moreover, Article 13 of the Constitution stipulates that “The State ensures the protection of the rights of all subjects of the right of property and economic management, and the social orientation of the economy. All subjects of the right of property are equal before the law”. The granting of any advantages to individual owners or the establishment of concessionary arrangements is a direct violation of the Constitution. In essence this means that at some stage for reasons of expediency unconstitutional practices were introduced which are still current to this day.[3]

It is absolutely vital to establish procedure for enforcement of rulings for this category of cases and at very least in order to ensure proper enforcement of rulings on compensation for damages inflicted on individuals or legal entities by the State authorities in cases where the seizure is carried out from the State Budget, to set aside money for this when drafting each year’s Law on the State Budget.

 

Safeguards to land ownership rights

Problems should be noted linked with protecting the right to plots [shares] of agricultural land, as well as the rights of owners of land sites in large cities.

In this context the case of land sites taken away from villagers in the Kyiv region is highly indicative. In fact there are hundreds of such cases however there is one difference in this case: they will most likely not succeed in depriving the people of their land. .

Residents of the villages Shchaslyve and Hora in the Boryspol district of the Kyiv region in full accordance with the law gained ownership rights over agricultural land sites.

In March 2007 in response to suits from a number of shareholders of the open joint stock company – the factory “Bortnychi” against the Boryspol District Department of Land Resources fro the Kyiv Region and the Boryspol District Branch of the State enterprise “Centre of the State Land Cadastre under the State Agency for Land Resources, the Boryspol City District Court cancelled registration of the State acts to the land. As a result, 541 residents of these villages were deprived of their right of ownership to the land, even those not involved in the court case. This is almost 2, 000 hectares of agricultural land. Despite current legislation, the court justified its ruling on the basis of evidence which it had not demanded from the relevant State bodies and which had not been checked to ascertain its accuracy. And this means that the case was examined in total secrecy from all owners of the land, representatives of the Shchaslyve and Hora villages, as well as the Boryspol District State Administration.

The villagers learned of this clearly unlawful ruling only after building work began on their land. the rulings passed by the court were appealed both by the owners and the Boryspol District State Administration. The Kyiv Regional Prosecutor also took the side of the cheated landowners. Finally, on 16 August 2007, the first victory in the case was achieved. The Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal renewed the period for the villagers to appeal against the court rulings and they were allowed to take part in the cases. On 31 August the Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal passed a ruling in three of the cases revoking the unlawful ruling by the Boryspol City District Court which had removed their land rights, and terminated the proceedings into the cases.[4]

Although the ruling of the court of appeal is the first promise of a long-awaited victory, it would be premature to assume this is the end of the story. For example, at the end of July 2007 a judge of the Krasnodon City District Court of the Luhansk Region Y.M. Afanasyevsky passed a ruling prohibiting the Boryspol District State Administration from transferring the land sites into the possession of residents of Shchaslyve and Hora, changing the designated purpose of the land and taking any action with respect to the said land.[5]  It effectively thus limited the ruling of the court of appeal, and can only arouse bemusement.

Safeguarding the property rights of investors on the housing market

People are also not sufficiently protected against fraudulent dealings involving land. Inadequate safeguards of property rights in law lead to mass-scale rights abuse on the construction market.  At the present time, the State is basically not exercising any effective control over the activities of the financial structures which attract money for investment in housing.

After the biggest building scandal in Ukraine’s history over the Elite Centre, the State proposed various options for improving protection of real estate ownership rights. For example, in March 2006, the President signed a decree which obliged the Cabinet of Ministers to draw up within a two-month period a package of draft laws to strengthen the rules of play on the primary real estate market. The President insisted in the first instance on introducing a ban on selling housing until it has been made ready for exploitation. However to this day not one of the “ordered” laws has been created or passed.

Property scandals take place all over the country, although admittedly on a more modest scale. No cardinal changes have appeared in legislation aimed at preventing such cases. Chaos continues on the property market, with this suiting only corrupt officials and companies holding a monopoly. In October 2006 the Head of the Kyiv Central Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Vitaly Yarema stated that after the scandal over the Elite Centre had come out, the police had identified a further 20 cases of fraud on the property market. “We have initiated around 20 criminal investigations over abuses. They are, of course, smaller in scale and losses, however there have been such cases”, the Head of the Kyiv Police said.

At the same time victims of such real estate machinations are left to face their misfortune alone. This was glaringly apparent in the case of the Elite Centre victims. The Kyiv authorities have still not created a transparent mechanism for compensating investors for their losses.  Although the authorities are not obliged to compensate damages, the decision was taken for political motives.

Only at the end of February 2007 did the Kyiv City State Administration make public the results of an investment tender for a company which will build housing for the victims. Only one company – Kyivmiskbud – took part in the tender which, in the absence of competitors, it of course won.  Of five sites proposed by the authorities, Kyivmiskbud only liked three. It has promised to give 25% of the flats in the three buildings to the victims. The Kyiv City State Administration claim that 14 of the biggest construction companies were invited to bid, as well as another 80 companies which are members of the Association of Builders of Ukraine, 60 banks and 10 insurance companies.

Moreover at the present time there is no mechanism for dividing the housing among the victims. And there are therefore no guarantees that they will be given the flats. When the buildings are completed (in 2-3 years), the victims will no longer have the right to demand housing orders from the builders or from the authorities since by that time the period for lodging claims in the Elite Centre case will have expired.  The Kyiv City State Administration (KCSA) promises that nobody will be cheated.  Kyivmiskbud is constructing a building: 25% of the housing will be handed over to the Kyiv investment agency which is the communal property of the city and the middleman agency will in turn hand over the square metres to the victims.

However in the Mayor’s office they say openly that not all victims will receive flats. Back in spring 2006, soon after being elected Mayor, Leonid Chernovetsky stated directly that the investors would be divided between the “real victims” and “bourgeois”. Nobody would compensate those who had put money into buying flats in order to earn money. During 2007 the City Administration’s position on this did not change. According to the Acting Deputy Head of the KCSA, Vitaly Zhuravsky, 25% of the housing area in the three buildings (no more than 150 flats for almost 1500 Elite Centre investors) will be given to the investors who “suffered the most and only via a court order”.  The criteria for making this selection are more than strange. Only those who ended up without housing at all, having sold their old flat in order to put money into a new flat from the Elite Centre can hope for a flat. Yet, to be exact, those who suffered most are those investors who are continuing to pay off a loan together with interest taken out to buy non-existent housing. Around 300 people are in this position.  The majority of them hoped to improve their living conditions (two-three families are living in one flat), however they chose another source of financing.[6]  This overtly discriminatory approach is baffling though it is to a considerable measure explained by the fact that the decision is political and not based on norms in legislation on compensation for damages. This cannot, nonetheless, justify such discrimination.

 

Punishment of those infringing property rights

Another problem which remains acute is the lack of protection of owners in the case of petty theft. At present, in order for a criminal investigation to be launched, the losses incurred must be valued at no less than 772 UAH 51 kopecks (around 150 USD). Anything smaller is deemed petty theft and does not entail criminal liability.  It is instead considered as an administrative offence and is punished in most cases by a small fine which is four times less than the maximum amount of losses inflicted.

You can envisage a situation where a person has stolen something worth 772 UAH, and if he is immediately caught at the scene of the crime, the police draw up an administrative protocol and take him to court. And if the offender was not caught it is practically a waste of time to turn to the police. There, of course, they will take the report, however refuse to launch a criminal investigation for want of the elements of a crime given its small scale.

The Criminal Code in Article 155 distinguishes several types of theft, with a break-in, committed more than once, or by prior conspiracy by a group of people. For the Code of Administrative Offences none of these aggravating circumstances have any significance.

The Supreme Court sent local bodies an explanation regarding burglaries if the offender is caught but the amount stolen does not reach the necessary minimum. The Court explains that the person should be charged under Article 162 of the Criminal Code – unlawfully entering a person’s home. This sounds good, yet what can you do when in district police stations sometimes even senior officers have no idea that such an article exists.  Furthermore the investigation under this article is carried out by the prosecutor’s office since this article was in general thought up with the idea that a normal person will not go wandering around other people’s flats, if he or she is not a criminal. It was aimed primarily against police officers who carried out unlawful searches for which they could be imprisoned for a period from two to five years. There are now virtually no criminal investigations under this article since burglars are not the kind of people on whom the prosecutor’s office should waste working hours since they should be investigating crimes under that article.

The issue of compensation for material damage to victims of petty theft is generally unresolved. When a person takes something from a factory or supermarket, s/he is either caught red-handed or not caught at all and therefore the question of compensation for damages is not so important. Yet in the case of theft of personal possessions the situation is different, with the offender sometimes having time to sell the items and spend the money.

Where a criminal investigation is launched, the issue of compensation is decided in parallel with the punishment of the offender. The investigator makes a decision on recognizing the victim as civil claimant and the judge, when passing sentence, also announces his or her decision as to whether to allow or turn down the civil claim for compensation. , However in an administrative case the State only seeks punishment of the offender, and the victim must defend his or her own material rights, by privately bringing a civil suit.

Current legislation has thus mainly and quite painfully hit the poorest layers of society. In general the legislators are coming to understand the depth of this problem. There are already proposals for legislative amendments, for example, suggestions that the cut-off point be calculated different to take into account the fact that for each victim one and the same thing may have different significance depending on their income. The authors of the amendments propose introducing additional criteria for classifying theft, specifically by qualifying the crime if the value of the stolen items exceed 10% of the monthly income of the victim [7]  Admittedly in such cases nobody can predict the lawfulness or unlawfulness of their behaviour because it is impossible in advance to classifying certain acts as a crime. This can in turn lead to violations of the individual’s rights. At the same time, all these proposals remain drafts, and the problems mentioned remained unresolved.

3. Behaviour of the authorities in restricting property rights

One of the most important aspects to consider regarding safeguards of property rights is the question of whether restrictions on these rights imposed by the State are well-founded and legitimate. We need to consider first of all the situation with regard to restrictions on owning, using and disposing of land sites and real estate, as well as the legal regulation for appropriation of these on the grounds of public need.

At the present time there is no legislative act regulating compulsory purchase of land sites of private owners for public needs. In 2007 efforts were made to regulate this issue.

For example, on 19 April 2007 the Verkhovna Rada passed Law No. 214 “On appropriation of land in private ownership”.  This law does not, however, establish criteria by which the authorities have the right to choose any particular land site for appropriation, effectively leaving this to the discretion of officials.  It also fails to set a clear mechanism for compulsory purchase and appropriation of land sites to meet public needs. Some articles of the law are also in conflict with each other, for example Article 8 states that purchase of a land site is only possible with the consent of the owner, but does not stipulate the legal consequences where the owner refuses. At the same time Article 13 envisages that in the case of an owner reusing to sell the land to meet public needs, or not concluding an agreement within the legally established period, the local or central authority “lodges an application with the court for the compulsory purchase of the land site”. These and other shortcomings prompted the President to return the Law to the Verkhovna Rada for reworking on the grounds that it does not ensure the constitutionally guaranteed inviolability of the right of private property, is conceptually flawed and does not set out mechanisms for lawful and justice appropriation of land sites.

It is important to note that the moratorium on the sale of agricultural land imposed until legislation is passed regulating relations on the land market continues. Yet the situation deteriorates with every year and the rights of those people who have ownership rights on land are being significantly restricted. The owners of the land are effectively deprived of the possibility of disposing of their property. Moreover there are shadow set ups for selling or changing the designated purpose of the land on the land market. All of this leaves the owners without protection from legislation.

Over the years since independence, Ukraine has still not managed to create legislation regulating the land market, and laws “On the Land Cadastre”, “On the land market” and others have not been passed. One feels that this moratorium is never-ending, and therefore there is no end to violations of the rights of those owning pieces of agricultural land.

This all results in a shadow market flourishing in rural areas, or, quite simply, a free-for-all. Rural residents sell their land shares for cheap; they fall victims to firms involved in land raiding which, under the protection of the courts, buy up the deeds to their land; local councils change the designated purpose of hundreds of hectares of land in order to then sell them, etc. While in cities, due to the lack of general zoning plans for future construction, land on a mass scale is handed over for a song to firms on long-term lease for them to build on. This is, of course, with the possibility of later buying the land. Land auctions are a great rarity.[8]

A great number of issues were raised by the draft Housing Code which was the subject of widespread discussion in 2007. Particular concern is aroused over the procedure for appropriation of housing to meet “public needs”. The Law “On comprehensive reconstruction of residential areas (micro-districts) from the obsolete housing fund” appeared back in December 2006.  The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union has already written a great deal about the unconstitutionality of this Law, about the violations of owners’ rights during so-called reconstruction of districts. In essence, this Law, using “public needs” as its cover (there is, incidentally, no definition of the term “public needs” in current legislation, nor an indication f who is empowered to determine the presence or lack of such needs), allows the compulsory appropriation of housing from its owners in order to carry out investment projects at the level of districts.

Without thinking too long, the authors of the draft Housing Code copied part of the norms from this masterpiece of law-creating. For example, Article 162 of the draft specifies the conditions for resettling tenants and owners of residential buildings when implementing investment projects for reconstruction of residential quarters (micro-districts). Paragraph 1 of this Article is immediately staggering – implementation of investment projects for reconstruction of residential quarters (micro-districts) can be carried out with the compulsory purchase of land to meet public needs, or without such purchase.

It would seem that the legislators forgot that under the Constitution compulsory appropriation of private property can only be applied as an exception due to “public need” on the basis and according to legally established procedure, and on condition of prior and full compensation of its value. It follows from this that the wish of the investors to receive profit (Article 13 § 13.6 of the draft Code), even if 50& of the residents of the building agreed to it, cannot be deemed constitutional grounds for forcibly depriving other owners of their flats in this building. Furthermore, the Constitution does not envisage appropriation of private property on the grounds of “public need”. The difference in our view between need and necessary is crucial. Be that as it may, the issue of resettlement of property owners may only be resolved on a voluntary basis, with compulsory eviction allowed only from buildings in a dangerous state, or in cases of really extreme necessity.

In general, resettlement according to the draft Code is carried out by means of notification via the media or in person a month earlier. According to the Code, the people affected are provided with other accommodation in the same district, however it is not stipulated on what conditions and according to what procedure this is handed over. For example, if a person lived on the first floor, and received a flat on the ninth, will this be a violation of their rights?  There are scores of such norms, for example, “obsolete housing fund”, etc. Back in the expert opinion of the Law “On comprehensive reconstruction of residential areas (micro-districts) from the obsolete housing fund”, the Verkhovna Rada experts stated that “under these conditions the situation could arise where quarters in Kyiv will be constantly rebuilt, however investors will ignore districts with huge numbers of “Khrushchovki” [standard, cheap and old apartment blocks from Soviet times)”. They also demanded that the term “reconstruction of a district (quarter)” be changed to “quarter (micro-district) of obsolete buildings or a separate residential building, since in a district there might be buildings still in satisfactory condition.[9]

It should be noted that in Ukraine there has long been a problem with the obsolete, unsystematic and fragmentary nature of normative documents on restricting ownership rights to certain types of possessions. The list of items which may not be private possessions of individuals, civic associations, international organizations or legal entities of other countries on Ukrainian territory is to this day established by the Verkhovna Rada Resolution from 17 June 1992. This normative act is based on no clear conception and only provides fragmentary resolution of certain issues regarding restriction to property rights to individual types of property and leaves out a number of important issues.  To this day there is no law which gives comprehensive, exhaustive, as well as well-balanced, exact and unequivocal regulation of the above-mentioned issues[10]

4. Recommendations

1)  Create a transparent and effective system for State registration of the rights to real estate;

2)  Improve safeguards of the ownership rights of land shares, create mechanisms for combating forced seizure of this land.;

3)  More effectively combat the prevalence of fraud scandals over real estate, and also ensure effective protection of the victims of these offences.

4)  Carry out reform of the Bailiffs’ Service to ensure unfailing fulfilment of all its functions, including judicial control over the enforcement of court rulings, and also lift the moratorium on compulsory sale of property from State enterprises to retrieve money owed.

5)  Made amendments to legislation aimed at strengthening protection against petty theft.

6)  Adopt a law which will systematically and comprehensively regulate the activities of joint stock companies, and also improve methods for fighting corporate raid attacks.

7)  Regulate appropriation of land and accommodation on the grounds of public necessity in clear compliance with the Constitution and Ukraine’s international commitments.

8)  Improve regulation of issues linked with restricting ownership rights to particular types of possessions.



[1] Prepared by Maxim Shcherbatyuk, UHHRU lawyer.

[2]  Head of State asks that the Inter-departmental Commission of Countering Unlawful Mergers and Takeovers of Enterprises be reinstated, http://www.president.gov.ua/news/9064.html

[3] M. Onishchuk. The State Bailiffs’ Service on the path to reform and efficiency // the newspaper “Weekly Mirror, № 9 (688) 8 — 14 березня 2008 http://www.dt.ua/1000/1050/62281/

[4] Land redistribution. Even a State act of private ownership of land is already no guarantee of protection against outside encroachments // The newspaper “Weekly Mirror” № 28 (657), 4 — 10 August 2007, http://www.dt.ua/2000/2675/60020/

[5] V. Borovyk: Insatiable land raiders or attacks on the land of the Boryspol region continue http://antiraid.com.ua/articles/p200709111.html

[6] N. Honcharuk. Phantom buildings // The weekly “Contracts”,  № 10 from 05.03.2007. http://www.kontrakty.com.ua/show/ukr/article/8629/1020078629.html

[7] National Deputies suggest increasing liability for theft of property // the Internet publication “Glavred”, http://ua.glavred.info/archive/2008/02/21/112900-16.html

[8] “How to make the most of land resources” // The Weekly Mirror, № 34 (663), 15 — 21 September 2007, http://www.mw.ua/2000/2060/60448/  

[9] S. Sakhatsky. The Draft Housing Code of Ukraine: an inept response to the housing problem // The Weekly “Legal Week” », №37(58), 11 September 2007 ., http://www.legalweekly.com.ua/article/?uid=82

[10] The right to peaceful enjoyment of ones possessions: Precedents and commentaries / compiled by O. Hrabovska – P: „TeRus”, 2005.

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