On 12 June, the European Court of Human Rights will consider legal arguments in a complaint brought by a judge aggrieved at his dismissal from Ukraine’s top tribunal.
The applicant in the complaint Volkov v. Ukraine (application no. 21722/11), Oleksandr Volkov, is a Ukrainian national who was born in 1957 and lives in Kyiv. He was president of the Military Chamber of the Supreme Court.
In December 2007, he was elected to the post of member of the High Council of Justice (HCJ). In December 2008 and March 2009 respectively, two members of the HCJ, R.K. and V.K. – who was elected president of the HCJ in March 2010 – conducted preliminary inquiries into possible misconduct by Volkov.
They concluded that he had modified decisions delivered by Judge B., his wife’s brother, on several occasions and that he had made gross procedural violations when dealing with cases involving a limited liability company. Following these inquiries, V.K., as President of the HCJ, submitted two applications to Parliament for dismissal of Volkov from the post of judge.
On 17 June 2010, the Parliament, having considered these applications by the HCJ, as well as the recommendation of the parliamentary committee on the judiciary (the parliamentary committee), voted for Vokov’s dismissal for “breach of oath.”
Volkov complained that the proceedings before the HCJ had lacked impartiality and independence given the members of the HCJ as well as the way in which it was composed. He claimed that some members of the HCJ had also been involved in the proceedings before the parliamentary committee.
Volkov further complained about the electronic vote in Parliament as the Members of Parliament who had attended had used their absent peers’ voting cards. This misuse of voting cards was confirmed by statements made by Members of Parliament and a video.
Volkov challenged his dismissal before the Higher Administrative Court (“the HAC”), which found that the HCJ’s application to dismiss Mr Volkov following V.K.’s inquiry had been lawful and substantiated.
That was not the case however for the application following R.K.’s inquiry. The HAC further noted that there had been no procedural violations either before the parliamentary committee or at the Parliament.
The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 30 March 2011.
Relying on Article 6 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Volkov complains that: his case was not considered by “an independent and impartial tribunal”; the principle of equality of arms was not respected; the proceedings on his dismissal were unfair; Parliament adopted the decision on his dismissal without proper examination of the case and by abusing the electronic voting system; his case was heard by a special chamber of the HAC which was not a ‘tribunal established by law;’ the decisions in his case were taken without proper consideration of some arguments and pieces of evidence; and, the HAC was not competent to quash acts adopted by the HCJ.
Relying on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Volkov further complains that his dismissal from the post of judge was an interference with his private and professional life. He also complains of a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).
In its decision of 18 October 2011, the Court considered that the admissibility of these complaints could not be determined on the basis of the case file and therefore gave notice of this part of the application to the Ukrainian Government