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Overview of the Judicial System of the Russian Federation

Justice is administered in the Russian Federation only by courts. The judicial power is self-dependent and acts independently from the legislative and the executive powers. Justice is administered in the forms of constitutional, civil, administrative and criminal proceedings.

 

The judicial system of the Russian Federation is established by the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the Federal Constitutional Law “On the Judicial System of the Russian Federation” of December 31st, 1996.

 

In February 2014, in order to strengthen public trust in the judiciary, modernize the judicial system and ensure a unified approach to the resolution of disputes between legal as well as private persons, a Law on the amendment to the Constitution of the Russian Federation “On the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the State Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation” was adopted. As a result, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, heading the system of courts of general jurisdiction, was merged with the Supreme Commercial Court of the Russian Federation, heading the system of commercial courts, to form a new Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, which is now the highest court for civil, administrative, criminal cases, cases on the resolution of economic disputes and other cases.

 

Currently, Russia’s judicial system is composed of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, federal courts, constitutional (charter) courts and justices of the piece of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation.

 

Judges of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation and of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation are appointed by the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on proposal of the President of the Russian Federation. Judges of federal courts are appointed by the President of the Russian Federation. Judges of constitutional (charter) courts and justices of the piece of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation are appointed in accordance with the legislation of the respective constituent entities.

 

The main task of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation is to resolve cases regarding the constitutionality of normative legal acts of all levels. Constitutional (charter) courts of constituent entities of the Russian Federation check the adherence of the normative legal acts of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation to their constitutions (charters).

 

The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation heads the system of courts of general jurisdiction and the system of commercial courts. As a top judicial instance, the Supreme Court is the only court, competent to consider cases as a court of first, appellate, cassational or supervisory instance. The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation exercises control over the activities of lower courts, gives them clarifications on issues of judicial practice in order to guarantee a uniform application of legislation.

 

District courts are the basic element of the system of courts of general jurisdiction. These courts handle most civil, criminal and administrative cases.

 

Some cases are handled in first instance by courts of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. Moreover, such courts function as an appellate instance vis-à-vis the district courts.

 

Depending on the category of a case, the presidium of a court of a constituent entity of the Russian Federation or a corresponding judicial chamber of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, acts as a court of cassation.

 

There are specialized military courts within the system of courts of general jurisdiction: at the level of garrisons and at the level of military circuits (fleets).

 

Commercial courts administer justice in the sphere of entrepreneurial and other economic activities. The system of commercial courts is composed of three elements: commercial courts of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation (first instance), appellate commercial courts (appellate instance) and commercial courts of circuits (cassational instance).

 

There is a specialized court – the Intellectual Property Rights Court – within the system of commercial courts.

 

Justices of the peace consider property disputes with an amount of claims under 50 000 RUB, criminal cases, in which the maximum possible punishment does not exceed 3 years of imprisonment and other cases of similar complexity. Appeals against the decisions of justices of the peace are considered by district courts.