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The Supreme Court Applies the Provisions of the Ukraine-Latvia Mutual Assistance Agreement to Conflicts of Jurisdiction

A recent Supreme Court judgement underscores the importance of jurisdictional provisions in international treaties on mutual legal assistance.

In its resolution dated 27 February 2020, case No. 426/22278/17, the Supreme Court upheld an appellate court judgement that terminated proceedings in a family dispute on the grounds that a similar case was earlier brought by the claimant in a Latvian court.

In this case, the claimant filed a court claim seeking the dissolution of their marriage with a Latvian court. Later, the claimant brought a similar claim with a Ukrainian court.

Initially, the first instance Ukrainian court accepted jurisdiction over the case and dissolved the marriage. However, the appellate court quashed this judgement and terminated the proceedings with reference to Art. 20 of the Ukraine-Latvia Agreement on Legal Assistance and Legal Relations in Civil, Family, Labour and Criminal Cases (the “Ukraine-Latvia Agreement”). Art. 20 of Ukraine-Latvia Agreement provides that if a claimant institutes proceedings between the same parties regarding the same subject matter and cause of action in the courts of both Ukraine and Latvia (assuming both courts equally have jurisdiction), then the court that opened the later proceedings will terminate the proceedings in favour of the court that opened proceedings earlier.

The Supreme Court applied the above provision of Ukraine-Latvia Agreement in this case and stated that the case brought by the claimant with the Ukrainian court concerned the same parties, subject matter and cause of action as the similar case brought earlier in the Latvian court. On that basis, the Supreme Court upheld the appellate court’s decision to terminate the court proceedings regarding the claimant’s court claim in Ukraine.

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