The ever-increasing pressure on the judiciary creates a need for faster and less costly case processes. According to the statistics of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2021, 45,588 cases were considered by economic courts in the city of Tashkent alone. In the Republic, this indicator amounted to 175,443 cases. Considering the shortness of procedural deadlines and the complexity of economic cases, the courts bear a heavy burden, which, in turn, has a negative impact on ensuring the protection of the rights of individuals and legal entities. In this regard, in order to optimize the activities of economic courts, the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated March 20, 2019 No. ZRU-531 «On amendments and additions to certain legislative acts of the Republic of Uzbekistan in connection with the adoption of additional measures to improve the business climate in the country» in the Economic Procedural Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan introduced a new Chapter 231 — «Simplified Proceedings». This institution is designed to relieve economic courts by simplifying the procedure for considering «small» disputes. Despite the fact that abroad, simplified production in the economic process has been successfully functioning for a long time, for the Republic of Uzbekistan it is new and not well known to everyone, which emphasizes the relevance of its study through the prism of national and foreign practice, which we will deal with in this article.
Let’s start with the fact that quite often simplified proceedings are mistakenly confused with writ proceedings, calling writ proceedings a type of simplified. In fact, writ and simplified are two completely separate types of economic legal proceedings. For a better understanding, it is necessary to distinguish that writ proceedings are fundamentally different in the following:
– in order to consider the case in an order, an application for the issuance of a court order is submitted, and in a simplified case — a statement of claim according to general rules;
– the parties in writ proceedings are the creditor and the debtor, and in the simplified procedure — the plaintiff and the defendant;
– writ proceedings are possible only for indisputable claims if the creditor handed over to the debtor against signature an application for issuing a court order, and the simplified one does not exclude the existence of a dispute, while the procedure for notifying the defendant is standard (a copy of the statement of claim with all documents is sent upon filing a claim);
– an application for issuance of a court order is considered within 10 days, and in simplified proceedings, the term for consideration of the case is 20 days from the date of issuance of the ruling on accepting the case for proceedings;
– based on the results of writ proceedings, a court order is issued, which is immediately canceled if there are objections from the debtor, and in a simplified way, the judge makes a decision according to general rules, which can be appealed on appeal.
According to the Russian legal scholar A.E. Solokhin, in itself, simplified proceedings, in contrast to writ proceedings, are not an independent, separate type of legal proceedings, but are a variation of claim proceedings. Indeed, simplified proceedings are, so to speak, a “compressed” version of the claim, since the main essence of the process does not change: the judge considers the case on the merits and makes an appropriate decision that can be appealed, and the difference is only in the procedure itself and the timing of the consideration. In support of this position, one can cite Article 2031 of the Economic Procedural Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan: “The case in summary proceedings is considered by the court according to the general rules of action proceedings provided for by this Code, taking into account the established features”. From this it becomes quite clear that simplified and writ proceedings have nothing in common with each other and it is not advisable to mix them.
Having drawn a clear line, you can delve into the process itself and the features of simplified proceedings, but first we will determine which cases can be considered in this order?
The main criterion for considering a claim in summary proceedings is its price. Thus, Article 2032 of the Economic Procedural Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan establishes that in simplified proceedings, cases are subject to consideration on statements of claim, the price of which in relation to legal entities does not exceed 20, and in relation to individual entrepreneurs — 5 basic settlement units (BRV — at the moment 270,000 sum). It is noteworthy that, at the request of the parties, this restriction may not be taken into account. The above article provides that, at the request of the plaintiff and with the consent of the defendant, other cases can be considered in simplified proceedings, which gives the parties the right to choose a more prompt and less costly procedure for resolving the dispute, regardless of the value of the claim. However, summary proceedings are not possible under the following circumstances:
- cases on corporate disputes;
- cases on the application of measures of legal influence;
- the petition of the third party to intervene in the case was satisfied;
- a counterclaim was accepted, which cannot be considered in summary proceedings;
- consideration of the case in summary proceedings may lead to the disclosure of state secrets, commercial or other secrets protected by law;
- it is necessary to find out additional circumstances or investigate additional evidence, as well as to examine and examine the evidence at their location, appoint an examination or hear testimony;
- the stated requirement is connected with other requirements, including those against third parties, or a judicial act adopted in this case, the rights and legally protected interests of third parties may be violated.
Turning to foreign experience, it is interesting to look at the norms of Russian legislation, where the institution of simplified proceedings in the arbitration process has been successfully functioning since 2012. Article 227 of the Arbitration Procedure Code of the Russian Federation states that simplified proceedings also consider cases related to the authority of officials and administrative responsibility in terms of payments and fines, the amount of which does not exceed one hundred thousand rubles, as well as the collection of mandatory payments and sanctions, if the amount of money to be collected does not exceed two hundred thousand rubles, with the exception of cases considered in the order of writ proceedings. So, in the procedure of simplified proceedings in the Russian Federation, cases arising from administrative legal relations can also be considered, which is a rather interesting practice that allows business entities to assert their rights in relation to administrative bodies according to a simplified scheme.
Another feature of simplified arbitration proceedings in Russia is the presence of a separate category of cases that are subject to consideration in a simplified manner, regardless of the value of the claim:
- on claims based on documents submitted by the plaintiff, establishing the financial obligations of the defendant, which are recognized by the defendant, but not fulfilled, with the exception of cases considered in the order of writ proceedings;
- on claims based on a notary protest of a bill of non-payment, non-acceptance and non-dating of acceptance, with the exception of cases considered in the order of writ proceedings.
It should be noted that the above categories of cases, according to the national economic procedural legislation, can be considered in writ proceedings, and they are not directly indicated in the rules on simplified proceedings. However, in practice, these cases can also be considered in a simplified manner if one of two criteria is met:
- the price of the claim — not more than 20 basic settlement units in relation to legal entities, and in relation to individual entrepreneurs — not more than 5;
- at the request of the plaintiff and with the consent of the defendant — regardless of the value of the claim.
As for cases in which it is impossible to conduct simplified proceedings, the Russian Arbitration Procedure Code in this regard is in full agreement with the Economic Procedure Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Thus, comparing the national and Russian approaches to economic cases subject to consideration in summary proceedings, it can be concluded that in the Russian Federation, summary proceedings cover a wider list of specific categories of cases. In the Economic Procedural Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan, on the contrary, only the criterion for the price of a claim is indicated, with the proviso that, by agreement of the parties, other cases can be considered in simplified proceedings. In our opinion, it would not be superfluous to introduce specifics into the national legislation on certain categories of cases subject to consideration in simplified proceedings, which would make this institution more understandable and effective.
Further, having decided on the cases to be considered in a simplified manner, we will proceed directly to the features of simplified proceedings in the economic process.
As we have already indicated above, cases in simplified proceedings are considered according to the general rules of action proceedings, but taking into account the following features:
– from the date of issuance of the ruling on acceptance of the statement of claim for proceedings and initiation of a case, the defendant has the right, within 15 days, to submit to the court a response to the statement of claim with the documents and evidence that substantiate it, as well as a document confirming the sending of a copy of the response to the plaintiff;
– the fact that the respondent, duly notified of the filing of the statement of claim with the court, did not submit a response to the statement of claim within the specified period is not an obstacle to consideration of the statement in simplified proceedings;
- response to the statement of claim, evidence and other documents received by the court after the expiration of the established period may be accepted if they were received before the decision of the court and the party justified the impossibility of submitting them within the established period;
- the case is considered by a single judge without a trial, summoning the parties and hearing their explanations within a period not exceeding 20 days (not subject to extension) from the date of the ruling on accepting the statement of claim for proceedings and initiating a case, after the expiration of the period established for submitting a response to the statement of claim, evidence and other documents;
- in the process of considering the case, the court examines the explanations, objections and arguments set out in the documents submitted by the parties, examines the evidence, examines the physical evidence and makes an appropriate decision.
From the above, it should be emphasized that simplified production is characterized by two main features:
- speed — 20 days from the date of the ruling on accepting the case for proceedings, while 15 days of them the court waits until the parties present all the evidence and a response to the claim, and during the rest of the time the submitted arguments, explanations and evidence are considered, and making a decision;
- convenience — the parties do not visit the court to explain their position, do not argue at many hours of court hearings, and the whole case is considered by the judge alone without a trial and calling the parties, which greatly speeds up and simplifies the whole process.
It is precisely the written objections, arguments and evidence submitted by the parties that are of key importance for making a decision in summary proceedings. In this regard, the parties should pay special attention to their execution and presentation of the most detailed information, as well as the application of all available evidence, so that the court has a complete picture and can make a fair decision.
If we turn to the arbitration process of the Russian Federation, we can see that simplified proceedings in Russian arbitration courts are more complex and protracted. The Arbitration Procedure Code of the Russian Federation establishes the following features:
– the term for consideration of cases in the manner of simplified proceedings should not exceed two months from the date of receipt of the statement of claim by the arbitration court, which from the standpoint of national legislation may seem rather strange, since the Economic Procedural Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan provides for a period of one month from the date of issuance of a ruling on acceptance cases for proceedings for a standard claim procedure, and for a simplified one — 20 days, that is, in Russia, simplified proceedings can last even longer than claims proceedings in Uzbekistan;
- in the ruling on accepting a statement of claim for proceedings in a simplified procedure, the Russian arbitration court sets a time limit for the presentation of evidence and a response to the statement of claim, which cannot be less than 15 days, and in the economic process of Uzbekistan, this period is firmly established — 15 days no more and no less;
- in the ruling, the arbitration court of Russia may offer the parties to resolve the dispute on their own, indicating the possibility of reconciliation;
- the parties have the right to submit to the arbitration court and send to each other the evidence they refer to within the time period established by the arbitration court in the ruling (at least 15 days from the date of the ruling), as well as additional documents containing explanations on the merits of the stated requirements and objections to substantiate their position, within the time period established by the arbitration court (at least 30 days from the date of the ruling), while in the economic process of the Republic of Uzbekistan there is no possibility to provide additional evidence and explanations after the 15-day period without a good reason .
Summarizing the above, simplified proceedings in the Russian arbitration process can be even longer in terms of time than claims proceedings in the Republic of Uzbekistan, which is associated with providing the parties with a large amount of time to collect evidence, present it, as well as exchange arguments and objections. In relation to the parties to the dispute, of course, this is very convenient and loyal, since it allows them to better substantiate their position, but at the same time, the main purpose of simplified proceedings is lost — speeding up the consideration of «small» disputes, because in fact they do not require a monthly collection of evidence and long proceedings.
Special attention deserves the decision in the case considered in summary proceedings. According to Article 2035 of the Economic Procedural Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan, a decision in summary proceedings is taken by the court according to the general rules established by the economic procedural legislation, taking into account some features that actually consist only in its entry into force. Thus, a decision in a case considered in a simplified proceeding enters into legal force after 10 days (in a claim proceeding — 1 month) from the date of its adoption, during which it can be appealed to the appellate instance.
By tradition, for the purpose of comparison, let’s turn to the Russian approach. The Arbitration Procedure Code of the Russian Federation provides for the issuance of only the operative part of the decision based on the results of the consideration of the case in simplified proceedings, which is quite unusual and interesting for us, since in the Republic of Uzbekistan the decision is in any case sent to the parties in full, including the introductory, descriptive, motivational and operative parts. The reasoning part for simplified proceedings in the arbitration process of the Russian Federation is prepared within 5 days only at the request of the person participating in the case or in the event of an appeal. The decision itself comes into force after 15 days from the date of its issuance, and if an application for the issuance of a motivational part was submitted, then from the date of the decision in full. Of course, it is difficult to explain the reason and meaning of establishing such a procedure for making a decision, since this somewhat complicates the process and takes extra time. In addition, the reasoning part is inseparable from the decision and is necessary, first of all, for the parties to see the legal basis for the judge’s conclusions. The absence of a motivational part will cause unnecessary questions and create an additional reason for filing an appeal.
Summarizing the above, within the framework of this article, we have considered all aspects of simplified proceedings in the economic process from the standpoint of national and foreign legislation, starting from its foundations and ending with a court decision on this proceeding and the process of appealing it. As part of the comparative analysis, some points were made that could be borrowed from foreign practice, in particular, the need to include specifics in the list of cases to be considered in summary proceedings was emphasized on the example of the many years of experience of the Russian Federation. On the other hand, some oddities from the foreign practice of simplified proceedings were also emphasized, which, in our opinion, do not fit into the essence and purpose of this procedure for considering economic cases. In this regard, it can be summarized that the national model of simplified proceedings in the economic process may not be perfect, but at least it meets the purpose and purpose of this procedure for considering cases, which are to optimize and unload the judicial system by accelerating and facilitating the process of considering “small” cases disputes.
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