As part of the judicial reform in Ukraine on December 15, 2017, new versions of the Code of Commercial Procedure, the Code of Civil Procedure and the Code of Administrative Procedure have come into force. The decision on the date of entry into force of the Codes was adopted at the plenary session of the new Supreme Court on November 30; the timeframe coincides with the start of the work of the new Supreme Court of Ukraine.

According to the amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Forensic Expertise”, Article 1 defines forensic expertise as “research based on special knowledge in the field of science, technology, art, crafts, etc. objects, phenomena and processes with a view to provide a conclusion on the issues, that is or will be the subject of the court proceedings”.

In addition, one of the main changes is the change in the subjects of forensic expert activity. In accordance with Article 9 of the Law of Ukraine “On Forensic Expertise”, “forensic expert activity in criminal proceedings is carried out by state specialized institutions, and in other cases also by forensic experts who are not employees of these institutions and other specialists (experts) from relevant fields of knowledge in the manner and under the conditions specified by this Law.

The state specialized institutions include:

  • research and scientific institutions of forensic examinations of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine;
  • research and scientific institutions of forensic examinations, forensic and forensic psychiatric institutions of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine;
  • expert services of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine and the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.

Exclusively state specialized institutions carry out forensic and expert activities related to the conduct of forensic, forensic and forensic psychiatric examinations.

Among other changes are the following:

  • Article 4. Guarantees of the independence of a forensic expert and the correctness of his/her conclusion

The independence of a forensic expert and the correctness of his/her conclusion are ensured by: the procedure for appointing a forensic expert…

  • Article 71. Grounds for carrying out forensic expertise

The basis for carrying out the forensic expertise is a relevant court decision or decision of the pre-trial investigation body, or a contract with an expert or an expert institution – if the expertise is carried out at the request of other persons.

  • Article 9. State Register of Certified Forensic Experts

… A person or body that appoints or orders forensic expertise may entrust it to those forensic experts who are included in the State Register of Certified Forensic Experts or other experts in the relevant fields of knowledge, unless otherwise provided by law.

  • Article 10. Persons who may be forensic experts

… 5. The provisions of this Law on guarantees, rights, duties, responsibilities of a forensic expert, except for the responsibility for refusal to carry out an expertise and the provisions of Section III of this Law, shall apply to a specialist in the relevant field of knowledge that conducts forensic examination.

  • Article 13. Rights of a forensic expert

…Despite of the type of court proceedings, a forensic expert has the right: 1) to apply for additional materials if the expertise is appointed by the court or the pre-trial investigation body or familiarized with the case materials concerning the subject matter of the forensic expertise …

  • Article 14. Responsibility of a forensic expert

A forensic expert on the grounds and in the manner prescribed by legislation may be brought to legal responsibility.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. Separate changes in the Code of Criminal Procedure, such as the grounds for conducting an expert examination, the procedure for attracting an expert, etc., are put into effect three months after the entry into force of this Law, they do not have an inverse effect in time and are applied to cases in which information on a criminal offense is included in the Uniform Register of pre-trial investigations after the implementation of these changes. That is, since March 15, 2018.