Ukrainian Lawyers Study Georgian Liberal Reforms
12 April, 2012
Ukrainian Lawyers Study Georgian Liberal Reforms

 

Ukrainian Bar Association attanded the first Ukrainian-Georgian round table “Corporate and Tax Reform: Legislation, Practice” in Tbilisi on April 6, 2012 to study Georgian liberal reforms and share their experience.

The Round Table was organized by the Ukrainian Bar Association (UBA) International Law Committee. The Committee is well-known among Ukrainian lawyers thanks to arranging oversea events in different European countries.

Being focused on the expansion of geographic area of the event map so that the UBA members could establish useful contacts with

colleagues from different countries, familiarize with new legal systems and best practices, the Committee has already visited Prague and Limassol with round-tables and conferences. This year the direction of interest has been moved towards East and it fell on Georgia, a country known not only for its hospitality, but the fast pace of development, successful economic and legal reforms, - Valentyn Zagariya, President of Ukrainian Bar Association, said in the interview with Georgian Journal.

According to him, UBA incorporating 3 thousand members in total sent the most representative delegation to Georgia including 3 board members including the UBA president among its 27 delegates that underlines the importance and value of Georgia’s experience in liberal reforms that rates this country among top reformers in World Bank’s Doing Business ratings as well as in transparency issues.

On the other hand, a long history of friendly relations between the two nations, the organizers decided to meet the growing interest of Ukrainian lawyers in the Georgian law reform, the current business regime and investment opportunities. Leading lawyers of Georgia highlighted reforms in tax and corporate law, judiciary reform as well as the reform of the Bar and state apparatus in Georgia.

Ukrainian lawyers, for their part talked about the tax system and corporate governance in Ukraine, the reform of the criminal procedure code, legal profession and the humanization of responsibility for economic crimes.

The second reason to visit Georgia was to establish friendly contacts with the Georgian lawyers who are frequent participants and speakers at the conferences held by the UBA.

Ukrainian delegation acknowledged that Georgia made a tremendous leap forward in liberalizing business law and tax administration in spite of defects in law enforcements and pressure on lawyers as Georgian advocates underlined.

“There are problems with system of law enforcement and pressure on advocates as we have heard but nothing is ideal, there always are nuances. But  of what we have heard how easy is to register a company in Georgia, what papers  are required, how it is regulated, I am a corporate lawyer myself and I am shocked, this is not a step forward but a leap forward,” Zagariya elaborated.

Ukrainian advocates found Georgian law enforcement liberal compared to Ukrainian that includes plenty of imperative norms and scares Ukrainian companies off the country to run business elsewhere where business environment is friendlier. Georgian corporate law impressed the most.

“I have heard that in respect to stakeholders you can hold stakeholders’ meetings at any language, subject it to any law, write anything what stakeholders find apt – all this is almost English law model that is very progressive model what is not in Ukraine and will not be available for a long time regrettably. That’s why Ukrainian companies go abroad, why we go to Cyprus, to Holland, because we have imperative norms. Step aside and you are shot on spot. Therefore I see that you are far ahead and pragmatic things shock me here,” Zagariya said.

Another achievement of Georgia is making tax service friendlier toward business through establishing mediation service [at revenues service where tax-payers can appeal for unfairly calculated taxes prior they go to court] that already settles about 53% of tax disputes between tax-payers and revenue service in favour to tax-payers as statistics show that is impossible in Ukraine at the moment where only 1% of tax-disputes are settled in favour to business.

“Tax-payers are always wrong in Ukraine, and it is a mere formality in fact and waste of time to raise lawsuit against the revenues service whiel in Georgia 53% is settled for tax-payers, figures bespeak themselves, you know,” Zagariya explained. He believes Ukrainian lawyers can learn much of Georgian peer’s experience so as to have their voice in law-making process in Ukraine.

Georgian lawyers acknowledge that creation of mediation service really eased situation from tax-disputes point of view but it it comes to political interest in business such business cannot survive political pressure of government and is seized in this or another way.

“Mediation service is quite effective and will be a good means until court becomes independent,” Irakli Kordzakhia, a lawyer, said.

“If there is a case that does not attract anybody’s interest the mediation service is effective, but if there is a political interest there neither mediation nor court works,” Giorgi Begiashvili, a Partner of Begiashvili & Co. Limited, elaborated.

Georgian lawyers cannot recollect any single case when the state returned a misappropriated property allegedly handed to the state as a present by previous owner during much trumpeted property right violation campaign exercised by government shortly after Rose Revolution in 2004-2005 that does not wane actually up to date.

 

 

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