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Attorney General of Ukraine reported about protection of property interests of the state


     On March 27, 2009, the Attorney General of Ukraine Olexander Medvedko held a meeting of the board of the Office of Attorney General of Ukraine. This meeting focused on the issue of protection of property interests of the state. At the meeting the following information was announced.
     Public prosecutors of Ukraine reviewed more than 1200 court cases about recognition of ownership on buildings an structures erected without authorization. As a result, over 510 court rulings in those cases were challenged by prosecutors. Among breaches of law which the courts committed while taking challenged rulings the most wide-spread are:
  1) taking decision in favour of claimants which do not have land titles (or leasehold agreements), building permits and construction documentation;
  2) recognition of right on buildings and structures which have not been put into operation (exploitation) according to the prescribed procedure; 
  3) omission to engage into proceedings third parties whose participation has material significance for the proceedings (local authorities);
  4) violation of locus standi (rules on jurisdiction).
     It was specifically stressed that when a court recognizes ownership on a structure or building, it creates grounds for further privatization of state-owned land. Therefore if ownership is recognized without sufficient reason or contrary to the law, the following privatization of land shall also be considered as ill-found and faulty.
     Prosecutors also pointed out that state control bodies were quite passive in realization of their control functions. In particular, local offices of the State Architecture and Building Control Inspection did not file claims about demolition of buildings erected without authorization, or they refused to take part in such proceedings in courts, or they allowed ill-found claims. Prosecutors quoted the numbers: for example, The Inspection in Karkiv Oblast applied fines to citizens and companies which erected buildings without authorization to the tune of UAH 543 million; but courts recognized ownership on such buildings, and fines were annulled. In those cases when a decision on application of fine withstands court scrutiny, the fine is barely paid: out of UAH 138.8 million of fines applied in 2008 (all Ukraine except for Kharkiv Oblast) only UAH 29 million was actually paid.
     Prosecutors also analyzed about 1600 court cases about acquisition of rights to land on the basis of court rulings. Over 1100 such rulings on the basis of which the state lost 8100 hectares were challenged by prosecutors. 80 prosecutors claims were upheld by appellate bodies, and 200 hectares were returned to the state.
     Prosecutors pointed out that courts committed the most violations of procedural and material law while considering claims on recognition of rights to land plots. In fact, court rulings in such cases impose upon local administrations and councils an obligation to take decision on allocation of land (into ownership or into leasehold) to a certain person.
     Prosecutors also said that local bodies of the State Committee of Ukraine on Land Resources and local offices of the State Land Cadastre not always took necessary measures to challenge "suspicious" court rulings; while in process they did not allow the claim, but when a decision was taken in favor of a claimant, those bodies were not challenging them at the appellate level.
     Prosecutors revealed that courts were involved into instances of change of end-use of land. For example, on the basis of court rulings agricultural land was re-classified into land for housing and commercial construction: 22 hectares in Volyn Oblast, 120 hectares in Dniepropetrovsk Oblast, 420 hectares in Odessa Oblast, 320 hectares in Kharkiv Oblast [current reading of Land Code significantly limits such re-classification and in many instances explicitly forbids it - MyLand]. Representatives of the State Committee and State Land Cadastre took part in the said proceedings, but did not challenged the rulings.
     Attorney General of Ukraine suggested that on the basis of the said information a decision should be taken which would eliminate revealed drawbacks in functioning of the public prosecution system in the field of protection of state property interests and improve effectiveness of the overview and control performed by the public prosecutors.

Source: Press-service of the Office of Attorney General of Ukraine, translation: MyLand

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