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UPDATE: A Guide to Legal Research in Russia

 

Update by Arina V. Popova and Andrey A. Arnautovich

 

Arina V. Popova earned her Master of Laws degree (LLM) at the New York University School of Law (2006). She received her law degree (J.D.) in 2005 from St. Petersburg State University School of Law, Russia. Andrey A. Arnautovich earned his Bachelor of Laws with Honours degree (LL.B) at Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, England (2013). He also holds a B.A. (Jurisprudence) degree from Saint Petersburg State University, Faculty of Law, Russia (2005).

 

Published December 2013

(Previously updated in August 2008 by Arina Popova and Lev S. Soloviev)

See the Archive Version!

 

 

Table of Contents

I.      Russia—General Information

A.    Geography and Population

B.    Language, Religion, Currency

C.     State Symbols

II.    Political System and the Governmental Structure

A.    Democratic and Federal State

B.    Separation and Balancing of Powers

C.     State and Local Self-Government Authorities

1.     State Authorities of the Russian Federation

2.     State Authorities of the Subjects of the Russian Federation

3.     Local Self-Governing Authorities

III.   The State Authorities of the Russian Federation

A.    The President of the Russian Federation

1.     The Role of the President of Russia

2.     The Requirements to be a President of Russia

3.     The President’s Major Powers

4.     Impeachment

B.    The Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

1.     General Notes

2.     The State Duma

3.     The Council of the Federation

4.     Legislative Process

C.     The Government of the Russian Federation

D.    The Judicial System of the Russian Federation

1.     The Judicial System (the Federal Constitutional Law “On the Judicial System of the Russian Federation” N 1-FKZ, dated December 31, 1996) (English access)

2.     The Constitutional Courts

3.     Courts of General Jurisdiction

4.     Commercial (“Arbitrazh”) Courts

5.     Disciplinary Judicial Tribunal

6.     Private Arbitration

IV.  Regional State Authorities

V.    Sources of Law

A.    General Notes

B.    The Constitution of the Russian federation

C.     International Treaties

D.    Federal Constitutional Law

E.    Codes

F.     Federal Laws

G.    Degrees and Orders of the President of the Russian Federation

H.    Decisions and Orders of the Government of the Russian Federation and other State Executive Authorities

I.      Regional Laws and Regulations

J.     Court Decisions

K.    Official Publications

L.     Russian Legal Databases

1.     Consultant Plus

2.     Garant

3.     Kodeks

M.   Legal Publications

VI.  Legal Education and Career in Russia

A.    Legal Education

B.    Legal Career

1.     In-House Lawyers

2.     Advocates

3.     Civil Service Lawyers

4.     Judges

5.     Lawyers at Consulting Companies

6.     Lawyers at Law Firms

VII.          Doing Business in Russia Guides

 

I.              Russia – General Information

 

A.             Geography and Population

The Russian Federation, or Russia, is the largest country in the world, bordering a number of European countries (including Poland and the Baltic countries) to the west, Finland and the Arctic Ocean to the north, Asian countries (including China) to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the east.

 

According to the latest All-Russia Population Census (October, 2010), the population of the Russian Federation was approximately 143.4 million people and today the population is at a similar level. The capital of Russia is Moscow (with a population of approximately 11.5 million people according to the 2010 Census). The so-called “cultural” and historical capital is Saint Petersburg (with a population of approximately 4.9 million people according to the 2010 Census).

 

B.             Language, Religion, Currency

The Russian language is the official state language of the Russian Federation. English is taught more widely than any other foreign language and is the principal foreign language in the Russian Federation (with 7.6 million people, or 5.3% of the population, being able to speak English according to the 2010 Census).

 

Orthodox Christianity remains the main religion of 74% of the population. Other Christian denominations, other religions, and non-believers vary between 0-10% each (according to the 2012 survey (English access) by Levada-Center (official English website), a major Russian sociological think-tank).

 

The ruble (RUR) is the national currency of the Russian Federation.

 

C.             State Symbols

The National Flag (English access) of the Russian Federation is a rectangular cloth of three equal horizontal stripes: the uppermost is white, the middle is blue and the bottom is red.

 

The National Anthem (English access) is one of the official state symbols of the Russian Federation. The Anthem’s words reflect feelings of patriotism and respect for the country’s history.

The National Coat of Arms (English access) of the Russian Federation is an official state symbol. The double-headed eagle has regained its status as the centerpiece of Russia’s State Emblem, testifying to the continuity of Russian history.

 

II.            Political System and Governmental Structure

 

A.             Democratic and Federal State

After the collapse of the Russian Empire in the revolutions of 1917, Russia (and later the Soviet Union) was governed by the Communist Party. With the fall of the USSR in 1991, the history of the modern Russia begins.

 

Today, Russia is a democratic, federal state with a republican form of government consisting of 83 independent Subjects (literarily referred to in Russian as the “Subjects of the Russian Federation”). At the same time, the federal structure of the Russian Federation is based on its state integrity.

 

83 Subjects of the Russian Federation are:

·         21 republics;

·         9 territories;

·         46 regions;

·         2 cities of federal importance (Moscow and Saint Petersburg);

·         the Jewish autonomous region; and

·         4 autonomous areas.

 

The Subjects of the Russian Federation have their own constitutions/charters and legislation, as well as their own regional state authorities.

 

In addition to the division of the Russian Federation into 83 Subjects, each Subject also contains a number of municipalities. For the purposes of the President’s direct supervision, in 2000 the territory of the Russian Federation was also divided into 8 federal districts, each of which is overseen by an authorized representative appointed by the President. This division does not affect or undermine the powers and authority of the Subjects of the Russian Federation.

 

B.             Separation and Balancing of Powers

The state authorities in the Russian Federation are separated into legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, which are independent from each other.

 

The state power is also divided between the state bodies of the Russian Federation and the state bodies of the Subjects of the Russian Federation.

 

C.             State and Local Self-Government Authorities

 

1.         State Authorities of the Russian Federation

The State Authorities of the Russian Federation are:

·         the President of the Russian Federation;

·         the Federal Assembly (the State Duma, the lower chamber, and the Council of the Federation, the upper chamber);

·         the Government of the Russian Federation and relevant executive authorities; and

·         Courts of the Russian Federation.

 

2.         State Authorities of the Subjects of the Russian Federation

The state power in the Subjects of the Russian Federation is exercised by the state authorities, comprised of regional legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Legislative authorities and the governors are elected by the respective population of the Subjects of the Russian Federation.

Executive authorities are appointed by the elected governor of the Subject of the Russian Federation.

 

3.         Local Self-Governing Authorities

The power within the municipalities is exercised by the local self-governing authorities, which are independent from state authorities. The limits of their power are prescribed by federal laws.

 

III.         The State Authorities of the Russian Federation

 

A.             The President of the Russian Federation

 

1.         The Role of the President of Russia

The President of the Russian Federation is the head of the State who determines the guidelines of the State's internal and foreign policies.

 

The current Russian President is Vladimir V. Putin (English access), who was elected President of Russia on March 4, 2012 and inaugurated as president on May 7, 2012.

 

2.         The Requirements to be a President of Russia

Any citizen of the Russian Federation not younger than 35 years of age and with a permanent residence record in the Russian Federation of not less than 10 years can be elected President of the Russian Federation.

 

The President of the Russian Federation is elected for six-year terms by citizens of the Russian Federation. The same person may not be elected for more than two consecutive terms.

 

3.         The President’s Major Powers

The President of the Russian Federation has a right to:

·         appoint (with a consent of the State Duma) the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation;

·         chair meetings of the Government of the Russian Federation;

·         present to the Council of the Federation candidates for appointment as judges of the highest courts of the Russian Federation, as well as appoint judges of other federal courts;

·         dissolve the State Duma (in cases provided by the Constitution of the Russian Federation);

·         submit bills to the State Duma, sign or veto them, and make public the federal laws; and

·         issue decrees and orders related to a great number of spheres, which are binding throughout the Russian Federation. (Those decrees and orders cannot, however, contradict the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the federal laws).

 

4.         Impeachment

The President of the Russian Federation may be impeached by the Council of the Federation on the basis of charges of high treason or other grave crimes, advanced by the State Duma and confirmed by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.

 

There is no precedent of successful impeachment in Russia. The impeachment procedure was once initiated in 1999 against then-President Boris N. Eltsin. The special committee of the State Duma (responsible for examining the allegations against Boris N. Eltsin) found all allegations against the President unfounded and no further actions were taken.

 

B.             The Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

 

1.         General Notes

The Federal Assembly is a parliament of the Russian Federation sitting on a permanent basis and consisting of two chambers – the State Duma (the lower chamber) and the Council of the Federation (the upper chamber).

 

The State Duma and the Council of the Federation have separate sittings.

 

2.         The State Duma

The State Duma (Russian access) is the lower chamber of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

 

The State Duma consists of 450 deputies elected for a term of five years. A citizen of the Russian Federation over 21 years of age is eligible to be elected deputy of the State Duma.

 

The State Duma sets up committees and commissions and holds parliamentary hearings on issues within its jurisdiction.

 

The composition of the State Duma is not based on a bipartisan system like legislative authorities in the United States. Four major parties are currently represented in the State Duma (since December 2011): the pro-presidential party "Edinaya Rossia" (United Russia) (Russian access) (52,88%), Russian Communist Party (Russian access) (20,44%), Russian Liberal Democrats Party (Russian access) (12,44%) and "Spravedlivaya Rossia" (Fair Russia) Party (Russian access) (14,22%).

 

To be represented in the State Duma, a political party must receive at least 5% of the votes at the general elections.

 

The State Duma has the following major powers:

·         adoption of the federal constitutional laws and the federal laws, which are the main sources of law in the Russian Federation;

·         approving the appointment of the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation; and

·         advancing charges against the President of the Russian Federation for his impeachment.

 

3.         The Council of the Federation

The Council of the Federation is the upper chamber of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. It consists of two representatives from each Subject of the Russian Federation: one from the legislative and one from the executive branch of the respective regional state authorities.

 

The Council of the Federation sets up committees and commissions, and holds parliamentary hearings on issues within its jurisdiction.

 

The Council of the Federation has the following major powers:

·         approval of the federal constitutional laws and the federal laws adopted by the State Duma;

·         approval of changes of borders between the Subjects of the Russian Federation;

·         impeachment of the President of the Russian Federation;

·         appointment of judges of the Highest Courts of the Russian Federation; and

·         appointment and dismissal of the Prosecutor-General of the Russian Federation.

 

4.         Legislative Process

The power to initiate bills belongs to:

·         the President of the Russian Federation;

·         the Council of the Federation and its members;

·         the deputies of the State Duma;

·         the Government of the Russian Federation;

·         the legislative bodies of the Subjects of the Russian Federation; and

·         the Highest Courts of the Russian Federation (on the matters within their competence).

 

Bills are considered and adopted after three hearings by the State Duma. Bills are then either considered or approved by the Council of the Federation or, if the bills are not considered within 14 days, they are deemed to be approved by the Council.

 

The adopted bills are submitted to the President of the Russian Federation for signing and making them public. The President of the Russian Federation has a right to veto the bill, which, however, may be overcome by a qualified majority (2/3 of votes) of both deputies of the State Duma and members of the Council of the Federation.

 

Laws shall be officially published for general knowledge either in the "The Russian Newspaper" (only recent legislative acts in Russian are available on the web-site) (Russian access), or "The Collection of Laws of the Russian Federation" Magazine (only the titles of enacted legislative acts in Russian are available on the web-site) (Russian access).

 

Laws take effect within 10 days of the date of publication unless other date is stipulated in the respective laws. Unpublished laws are not effective.

 

C.             The Government of the Russian Federation

The executive power in Russia is exercised by the Government of the Russian Federation (English access) and the relevant executive bodies.

 

The Government of the Russian Federation consists of its Chairman (appointed by the President of the Russian Federation with the consent of the State Duma of the Russian Federation), Deputy Chairman(s) and federal ministries. The Government of the Russian Federation resigns before each newly-elected President is inaugurated. The current Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation is Dmitry A. Medvedev, who was appointed Chairman on May 8, 2012.

 

The Government of the Russian Federation has the regulatory and supervisory powers in the areas of finance, state budget, culture, science, education, health protection, social security and ecology, the federal property, national defense, state security, foreign policy of the Russian Federation, human rights and freedoms, public order and crime control.

 

The Government of the Russian Federation may issue decisions and orders binding throughout the Russian Federation, which, however, must comply with the Constitution of the Russian Federation, federal laws and decrees of the President of the Russian Federation.

 

At the time of writing the Ministries in the Government of the Russian Federation are:

·         The Ministry of Agriculture (Russian access);

·         The Ministry of Civil Defense, Emergencies and Disaster Relief (English access);

·         The Ministry of Communications and Mass Media (Russian access);

·         The Ministry of Culture (English access);

·         The Ministry of Defense (English access);

·         The Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East (Russian access);

·         The Ministry of Economic Development (English access);

·         The Ministry of Education and Science (English access);

·         The Ministry of Energy (Russian access);

·         The Ministry of Finance (English access);

·         The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (English access);

·         The Ministry of Healthcare (Russian access);

·         The Ministry of Industry and Trade (English access);

·         The Ministry of the Interior (English access);

·         The Ministry of Justice (Russian access);

·         The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection (Russian access);

·         The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (English access);

·         The Ministry of Regional Development (English access);

·         The Ministry of Sport (English access);

·         The Ministry of Transport (Russian access).

 

D.             The Judicial System of the Russian Federation

 

1.         The Judicial System (the Federal Constitutional Law "On the Judicial System of the Russian Federation" N 1-FKZ, dated December 31, 1996) (English access, version as amended in 2009 / Russian access, version as amended in 2012)

 

Justice in the Russian Federation is administered by the courts alone and exercised by means of constitutional, civil, administrative and criminal proceedings.

The judicial system consists of four types of courts:

·         the constitutional court of the Russian Federation and constitutional courts of the Subjects of the Russian Federation;

·         courts of general jurisdiction;

·         specialized state commercial courts, named "arbitrazh" courts; and

·         the Disciplinary Judicial Tribunal, a specialized state disciplinary court for judges.

 

As of November 1, 2013, a major reform of the judicial system was underway. On 7 October 2013 President Vladimir V. Putin introduced to the State Duma a bill (Russian access) with a set of significant amendments to the Constitution and 28 federal laws related to the judicial system and courts. The reform would create a single supreme court with wide jurisdiction over civil (including commercial), criminal, and administrative matters. As a result, the Supreme Arbitrazh Court will cease to exist and the current Supreme Court will receive wider powers. As the bill has not yet been debated in the State Duma, it is not entirely clear at this stage what exactly would happen to other arbitrazh courts and what would be the structure of the Russian judicial system after the reform. Constitutional courts are not affected by this reform.

 

As the reform requires the Constitution to be amended, it will take some time until this legislation takes effect. However, it is not unlikely that by the end of 2014 a new supreme court will be created.

 

2.         The Constitutional Courts

The constitutional courts include the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation (English access) and constitutional courts of the Subjects of the Russian Federation.

 

The main function of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation is to resolve issues with regard to the compliance of laws and regulations with the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

Constitutional courts of the Subjects of the Russian Federation have similar functions with regard to compliance of regional acts with respective regional constitutions and charters.

3.         Courts of General Jurisdiction

There is a four-tier hierarchical system of courts of general jurisdiction acting throughout Russia with the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (mainly Russian access) as the supreme judicial body of this branch.

Courts of general jurisdiction hear (i) civil cases with participation of individuals, (ii) criminal cases, and (iii) disputes between individuals and state authorities.

In addition to settling particular disputes, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation regularly issues advisory opinions on matters of judicial practice that are binding on the courts of general jurisdiction of the lower instances.

4.         Commercial ("Arbitrazh") Courts

Commercial disputes in Russia are heard by arbitrazh courts, which have a four-tier, hierarchical system:

·         the first level is the federal arbitrazh courts located in each Subject of the Russian Federation;

·         the second level is 20 arbitrazh appellate courts;

·         the third level is 10 federal district arbitrazh courts;

·         the Supreme Arbitrazh Court of the Russian Federation (English access) that is the superior judicial body for deciding commercial disputes.

 

In 2013 a new specialized Court for Intellectual Property Rights (Russian access) began to deliver its first judgments. It exists within the four-tier system of arbitrazh courts. It resolves disputes as a first and (or) third level court for certain disputes (that are generally within the jurisdiction of arbitrazh courts) related to intellectual property (including copyright, trademarks, patents and similar disputes).

 

Similar to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, in addition to settling particular disputes, the Supreme Arbitrazh Court of the Russian Federation regularly issues advisory opinions on matters of judicial practice that are binding on the arbitrazh courts of the lower instances.

 

5.         Disciplinary Judicial Tribunal

The Tribunal (Russian access) was created in 2009 as a separate specialized court. It reviews disciplinary decisions against judges who have committed disciplinary offences. It consists of six members who are either from the Supreme Court or the Supreme Arbitrazh Court.

 

6.         Private Arbitration

Parties may also refer commercial disputes to the tribunals of private arbitration (both ad hoc and institutional) serving as an alternative to the state courts.

International commercial arbitration is mainly regulated by the Law of the Russian Federation "On International Commercial Arbitration" (English access), dated July 7, 1993, identical to the Model UNCITRAL Law.

 

The best known international commercial arbitration courts in Russia are the International Commercial Arbitration Court at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation (Russian and English access), the Maritime Arbitration Committee (English access), and the Arbitration Tribunal at the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (English access).

 

IV.          Regional State Authorities

The system of state bodies of the Subjects of the Russian Federation is established by the Subjects of the Russian Federation in accordance with the general principles of the organization of representative and executive state bodies established by federal laws.

 

Therefore, the state power in the Subjects of the Russian Federation has been traditionally exercised by the regional executive and legislative bodies elected by the population of those Subjects.

 

As a result of the legislative changes initiated by Vladimir V. Putin in 2004 to reduce the influence of regional state authorities, the governors of the Subjects of the Russian Federation were nominated by the President of Russia and approved by the regional legislative bodies. However, in 2012 at the initiative of then-President Dmitry A. Medvedev, the reform was rolled back and now the governors are again elected by the population of the respective Subject of the Russian Federation. By November 1, 2013 there were 13 of these elections in various Subjects (including Moscow and the Moscow Region)

 

V.             Sources of Law

 

A.             General Notes

The Russian Federation is a civil law country. It means that legislative acts are the sources of law, which have a primary role, whereas court decisions, contrary to the basics of the common law legal system, are not regarded as the sources of law.        

 

B.             The Constitution of the Russian Federation

The Constitution of the Russian Federation (English access / Russian access) is the supreme law throughout the territory of the Russian Federation and is self-executing.

Laws and other legal acts adopted in the Russian Federation may not contradict the Constitution of the Russian Federation

 

The current Constitution of the Russian Federation was adopted through a referendum on December 12, 1993.

 

C.             International Treaties

International treaties to which the Russian Federation is a party are an integral part of the Russian legal system.

 

The laws of the Russian Federation should not contradict international treaties; in case of conflict, however, the rules of the international treaty will apply. This rule, arguably, does not extend to the Constitution itself, which will prevail in the extremely unlikely event of a conflict between the Constitution and an international treaty (there has been no precedent of such conflict).

 

D.             Federal Constitutional Laws

Any laws in the Russian Federation may not contradict the federal constitutional laws. Federal constitutional laws (‘FCL’) are adopted only on the issues exclusively envisaged by the Constitution of the Russian Federation. As of November 1, 2013 the following FCLs were in force:

·         FCL ‘On the State of Emergence’ No. 3-FKZ dated May 30, 2001 (as amended on March 7, 2005) (English access);

·         FCL ‘On the admission to the Russian Federation and the creation therein of new Subjects of the Russian Federation’ No. 5-FKZ dated July 21, 2007 (Russian access);

·         FCL ‘On the National Flag of the Russian Federation’ No. 1-FKZ dated December 25, 2000 (as amended December 28, 2010) (Russian access);

·         FCL ‘On the National Coat of Arms of the Russian Federation’ No. 2-FKZ dated December 25, 2000 (as amended July 23, 2013) (Russian access);

·         FCL ‘On the National Anthem of the Russian Federation’ No. 4-FKZ dated July 4, 2003 (Russian access);

·         FCL ‘On the Referendum in the Russian Federation’ No. 5-FKZ dated June 28, 2004 (as amended April 24, 2006) (Russian access);

·         FCL ‘On the Regime of the Martial Law’ No. 1-FKZ dated January 30, 2003 (as amended December 28, 2010) (Russian access);

·         FCL ‘On the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation’ No. 1-FKZ dated February 26, 1997 (as amended December 28, 2010) (Russian access);

·         FCL ‘On the Government of the Russian Federation’ No. 2-FKZ dated December 17, 1997 (as amended May 7, 2013) (Russian access);

·         FCL ‘On the Judicial System of the Russian Federation’ No. 1-FKZ dated December 31, 1996 (as amended December 25, 2012) (English access);

·         FCL ‘On the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation’ No. 1-FKZ dated July 21, 1994 (as amended April 5, 2013) (English access);

·         FCL ‘On the Arbitrazh Courts of the Russian Federation’ No. 1-FKZ dated April 28, 1995 (as amended December 6, 2011) (Russian access);

·         FCL ‘On the Courts of General Jurisdiction of the Russian Federation’ No. 1-FKZ dated February 7, 2011 (as amended December 1, 2012) (English access);

·         FCL ‘On the Military Courts of the Russian Federation’ No. 1-FKZ dated June 23, 1999 (as amended December 25, 2012) (Russian access);

·         FCL ‘On the Disciplinary Judicial Tribunal’ No. 4-FKZ dated November 9, 2011 Russian access);

·         FCL ‘On the Supervising Powers of the State Duma Over the Government of the Russian Federation’ No. 3-FKZ dated June 29, 2009 (Russian access).

 

E.             Codes

The Codes are consolidated legislation in a particular area. Though formally they have force of an ordinary federal law, many of them proclaim themselves to be a law of the highest judicial force in a particular area among all ordinary federal laws in the Russian Federation. This sometimes causes problems when interpreting laws which contradict codes. The Codes usually provide the basis for the respective area of law.

 

The most important Codes in the Russian Federation are the following:

·         the Civil Code (Parts 1 - 4) (Russian access / English access: Parts 1 - 3 and Part 4);

·         the Tax Code (Parts 1 - 2) (Russian access / English access);

·         the Labor Code (Russian access / English access);

·         the Code on Administrative Offenses (Russian access / English access);

·         the Criminal Code (Russian access / English access);

·         the Criminal Procedure Code (Russian access);

·         the Penal Code (Russian access);

·         the Family Code (Russian access);

·         the Housing Code (Russian access);

·         the Code of Arbitrazh Procedure (Russian access / English access);

·         the Civil Procedure Code (Russian access);

·         the Customs Code (Russian access / English access);

·         the Customs Code of the Customs Union (Russian access / English Access)

·         the Budget Code (Russian access);

·         the City-Planning Code (Russian access);

·         the Merchant Shipping Code (Russian access / English access);

·         the Air Code (Russian access);

·         the Forest Code (Russian access);

·         the Water Code (Russian access); and

·         the Land Code (Russian access).

 

F.             Federal Laws

The federal laws have supremacy throughout the Russian Federation. The bodies of state authority, the bodies of local self-government, officials, individuals and companies are obliged to observe the federal laws. They, however, may not contradict the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the federal constitutional laws.

 

The federal laws are passed on the issues within the sole jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, as well as under the joint jurisdiction of the Russian Federation and the Subjects of the Russian Federation (those jurisdictions are explicitly defined by the Constitution of the Russian Federation).

 

G.             The Degrees and Orders of the President of the Russian Federation

The President of the Russian Federation issues decrees and orders, which are obligatory for fulfillment throughout the Russian Federation.

 

Those decrees and orders may not contradict the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the federal laws.

 

H.            The Decisions and Orders of the Government of the Russian Federation and other State Executive Authorities

On the basis, and for the sake of implementation of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the federal laws, normative decrees of the President of the Russian Federation, the Government of the Russian Federation and other state executive authorities of the Russian Federation issue regulations, decisions and orders, which are binding in the Russian Federation.

 

The decisions and orders of the Government of the Russian Federation, if they are inconsistent with the Constitution of the Russian Federation, federal laws and decrees of the President of the Russian Federation, may be declared void by the President of the Russian Federation.

 

I.              Regional Laws and Regulations

On the issues within the joint jurisdiction of the Russian Federation and the Subjects of the Russian Federation, the latter may adopt regional laws and regulations, which should comply with the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the federal constitutional laws and federal laws. In case of a contradiction, the federal regulations prevail.

 

The Subjects of the Russian Federation may adopt regional laws and regulations on issues within their exclusive jurisdiction.

 

The President of the Russian Federation has the right to suspend acts of the executive authorities of the Subjects of the Russian Federation if they contradict the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the federal laws.

 

J.              Court Decisions

As a general rule, court decisions are not considered as a source of law in the Russian Federation. There is no concept of judicial precedent in Russia.

 

However, court decisions of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation and regional constitutional courts are considered as quasi-sources of law, since they (a) may invalidate normative acts on the basis of the latter's non-compliance with relevant constitutions/charters, (b) are binding on everyone (including the State Duma and the President), and (c) cannot be challenged in any court.

 

In addition, as stated earlier, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the Supreme Arbitrazh Court of the Russian Federation regularly issue advisory opinions on matters of judicial practice, which are binding on the courts of the lower instances of the respective judicial branches. In practice, state authorities, companies and individuals also take these general rulings into consideration, when facing relevant legal issues.

 

Although court decisions are not regarded as a source of law in the Russian Federation, they usually serve as persuasive legal guidance for legal practitioners.

 

K.             Official Publications

Federal laws, decrees and regulations of the President and Government of the Russian Federation, as well as normative acts of other executive state authorities are published in the following official gazettes: "The Russian Newspaper" (only recent legislative acts in Russian are available on the web-site), "The Collection of Laws of the Russian Federation" Magazine (only the titles of legislative acts in Russian are available on the web-site), "The Parliamentary Newspaper" (only recent legislative acts in Russian are available on the web-site).

 

Court decisions of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Arbitrazh Court and the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation are published in "Vestnik of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation", "Vestnik of the Supreme Arbitrazh Court of the Russian Federation" and "Bulletin of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation" correspondingly. The two latter are available on-line in Russian.

 

L.             Russian Legal Databases

There are three most commonly-used legal databases in Russia:

·         Consultant Plus;

·         Garant; and

·         Kodeks.

 

Each of those three legal databases covers all effective codes, federal constitutional laws, federal laws, decrees and regulations of the President and the Government of the Russian Federation, normative acts of Russian state executive authorities, as well as all court decisions of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Arbitrazh Court and the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. A considerable number of court decisions of lower courts, as well as a great number of books, scholarly commentaries, and legal publications are also contained in each of these legal databases.

 

In addition, the main features of each of those legal databases are outlined below.

 

1.         Consultant Plus

Today Consultant Plus (Russian access) is the largest (mainly fee-based) legislation and court decisions data bank available in Russia. The total number of documents of Consultant Plus database exceeds 24,700,000. New documents are added into the database every day, within few days of their adoption by the authorities of the Russian Federation.

 

From a viewpoint of legal practitioners, we would say that Consultant Plus contains the most comprehensive database of Russian court decisions, which are very useful when dealing with situations similar to those addressed in the decisions.

 

It is worth noting that Consultant Plus has a free on-line access to approximately 700,000 documents in Russian language from 8 p.m. to 12 p.m. on weekdays (Moscow time) and at any time during weekends.

 

Consultant Plus also has a special supplementary "Consultant Plus Regions", which provides for access to almost all regional laws and normative acts.

 

In addition, Consultant Plus is the first Russian legal database providing for the texts of classical pre-Revolutionary civil law textbooks, i.e. of 19-20 centuries.

 

Consultant Plus does not provide for texts of legislation in English.

 

2.         Garant

A fee-based database Garant (Russian access) includes specialized databases on all spheres of federal legislation. In addition, the legislative acts of all 83 Subjects of the Russian Federation, as well as the decisions of Russian courts are presented in the database.

 

The main advantage of Garant is that this legal database supplies information on the Russian legislation both in English and Russian. At present, all fundamental Russian laws have been translated into English including documents concerning the civil law, tax law and the avoidance of double taxation, customs law, etc. Garant database is supplemented weekly with 30-40 documents translated into English.

 

A significant number of foreign companies (international organizations, foreign banks and embassies, large audit, consulting and manufacturing companies) in Russia use the Garant database.

 

The system Garant is also distributed via the LexisNexis network.

 

3.         Kodeks

Kodeks (Russian access / English access) is another comprehensive fee-based database of Russian laws, other normative acts and court decisions.

 

M.            Legal Publications

Legal publications are not considered sources of law in Russia.

 

However, the following fundamental textbooks (available in Russian language only) are usually referred to by legal students and practitioners.

 

As a part of the civil legislation reform, the Civil Code of the Russian Federation was significantly changed in 2012-2013 and more amendments are likely to be introduced in the near future. Therefore, some of the books listed below do not incorporate all recent changes. However, they remain a valuable source of legal knowledge.

 

Theory of State and Law:

·         Lev I. Spiridonov, Theory of State and Law (2001)

·         Andrei V. Polyakov, Elena V. Timoshina, General Theory of Law (2005)

·         Demian Bahrah, Essays in the Theory of Russian Law (2008)

·         Vladik S. Nersesyants et al, Problems of the General Theory of Law (2010)

·          

Constitutional Law:

·         Marat V. Baglay, Constitutional Law of the Russian Federation (6th edn. 2005)

·         Ekaterina Kozlova, Oleg Kutafin, Constitutional Law of the Russian Federation (3rd edn. 2003)

 

Civil Law:

·         Alexander P. Sergeev and Yuri K. Tolstoy (eds), Civil Law, Book 1 (6th edn. 2005)

·         Alexander P. Sergeev and Yuri K. Tolstoy (eds), Civil Law, Book 2 (4th edn. 2008)

·         Alexander P. Sergeev and Yuri K. Tolstoy (eds), Civil Law, Book 3 (4th edn. 2006)

·         Alexander P. Sergeev (ed), Civil Law, Book 1 (2010)

·         Alexander P. Sergeev (ed), Civil Law, Book 2 (2012)

·         Alexander P. Sergeev (ed), Civil Law, Book 3 (2010)

·         Alexander P. Sergeev (ed), Commentary to the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, Part 1 (2012)

·         Alexander P. Sergeev (ed), Commentary to the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, Part 2 (2012)

·         Anton A. Ivanov, Lidia U. Mikheeva, Mikhail V. Krotov, Article-by-Article Commentary to the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, Part 2 (in three volumes) (2011)

·         Anton A. Ivanov (ed), Legal Positions of Presidium of the Supreme Arbitrazh Court of the Russian Federation: Selected Resolutions for the Year 2006 with Comments (2012)

·         Anton A. Ivanov (ed), Legal Positions of Presidium of the Supreme Arbitrazh Court of the Russian Federation: Selected Resolutions for the Year 2007 with Comments (2012)

·         Anton A. Ivanov (ed), Legal Positions of Presidium of the Supreme Arbitrazh Court of the Russian Federation: Selected Resolutions for the Year 2008 with Comments (2012)

·         Anton A. Ivanov (ed), Legal Positions of Presidium of the Supreme Arbitrazh Court of the Russian Federation: Selected Resolutions for the Year 2009 with Comments (2012)

·         Evgeniy A. Sukhanov et al., Civil Law, Book 1 (3rd edn. 2008)

·         Evgeniy A. Sukhanov et al., Civil Law, Book 2 (3rd edn. 2008)

·         Evgeniy A. Sukhanov et al., Civil Law, Book 3 (3rd edn. 2008)

·         Evgeniy A. Sukhanov et al., Civil Law, Book 4 (3rd edn. 2008)

·         Oleg N. Sadikov (ed), Civil Law, Book 1 (2009)

·         Oleg N. Sadikov (ed), Civil Law, Book 2 (2009)

·         Oleg N. Sadikov et al., Commentary to the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, Part 1 (3rd edn. 2006)

·         Oleg N. Sadikov et al., Commentary to the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, Part 2 (5th edn. 2008)

·         Vadim A. Belov, Civil Law, Book 1 (2nd edn. 2012)

·         Vadim A. Belov, Civil Law, Book 2 (2012)

·         Vadim A. Belov, Civil Law, Book 3 (2012)

·         Vadim A. Belov, Civil Law, Book 4 (2013)

·         Vadim A. Belov (ed), Civil Law. The Current Problems of Theory and Practice (2009)

·         The Civil Law Research Centre under the President of the Russian Federation, The Concept of Development of the Russian Civil Legislation (2009)

 

Contract Law:

·         Mikhail I. Braginskiy & Vasiliy V. Vitryanskiy, Contract Law, Book 1 (3rd edn. 2011)

·         Mikhail I. Braginskiy & Vasiliy V. Vitryanskiy, Contract Law, Book 2 (2nd edn. 2011)

·         Mikhail I. Braginskiy & Vasiliy V. Vitryanskiy, Contract Law, Book 3 (2nd edn. 2011)

·         Mikhail I. Braginskiy & Vasiliy V. Vitryanskiy, Contract Law, Book 4 (5th edn. 2011)

·         Mikhail I. Braginskiy & Vasiliy V. Vitryanskiy, Contract Law, Book 5, volumes 1 and 2 (2nd edn. 2006)

 

Corporate and Commercial Law:

·         Boris I. Puginsky, Commercial Law of the Russian Federation (2nd edn. 2009)

·         Dmitri V. Lomakin, Corporate Legal Relationships. General Theory and Application  Practice Thereof in Commercial Companies (2008)

·         Vadim A. Belov (ed), Corporate Law. The Current Problems of Theory and Practice (2009)

 

Civil and Arbitration Procedure:

·         Galina L. Osokina, Civil Procedure. General Provisions (3rd edn. 2013)

·         Galina L. Osokina, Civil Procedure. Special Provisions (2007)

·         Mikhail K. Treushnikov (ed), Arbitration Procedure (4th edn. 2011)

·         Mikhail K. Treushnikov (ed), Civil Procedure (4th edn. 2011)

·         Vladimir V. Yarkov, Civil Procedure (6th edn. 2006)

·         Vladimir V. Yarkov, Arbitration Procedure (4th edn. 2010)

 

International Public Law:

·         Kamil’ A. Bekyashev, International Public Law (5th edn, 2013)

·         Yuriy M. Kolosov et al., International Law (2nd edn. 2007)

 

International Private Law:

·         Mark M. Boguslavsky, International Private Law (6th edn. 2010)

·         Lazar A. Lunz, International Private Law in 3 Books (2002)

 

Labor Law:

·         Sergey P. Mavrin, Evgeniy B. Khokhlov (eds), Labor Law of the Russian Federation (3rd edn. 2013)

Criminal Law:

·         Alexey N. Ignatov, Yuriy A. Krasikov, Russian Criminal Law (Part 1) (2005)

·         Alexey N. Ignatov, Yuriy A. Krasikov, Russian Criminal Law (Part 2) (2nd edn. 2008)

·         Vladimir M. Lebedev, Commentary to the Criminal Code (13th edn. 2013)

 

Criminal Procedure:

·         Alexander V. Grinenko (ed), Criminal Procedure (3rd edn. 2013)

·         Vyacheslav P. Bozh'ev, Criminal Procedure (4th edn. 2013)

·         Vyacheslav P. Bozh'ev (ed), Commentary to the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation (8th edn. 2012)

 

Environmental Law:

·         Sergey A. Bogolyubov (ed), Environmental Law (4th edn. 2013)

 

Land Law:

·         Boris V. Erofeev, Land Law of the Russian Federation (13th edn. 2014)

·         Sergey A. Bogolyubov (ed), Land Law (3rd edn. 2013)

·         Sergey A. Bogolyubov (ed), Commentary to the Land Code of the Russian Federation (8th edn. 2014)

·         Yuriy G. Zharikov, Land Law of Russia (2008)

 

Financial Law:

·         Elena U. Gracheva (ed), Financial Law (2012)

·         Marina V. Karaseva (ed), Financial Law of the Russian Federation (4th edn. 2012)

·         Nina I. Khimicheva (ed), Financial Law (5th edn. 2013)

 

Tax Law:

·         Elena U. Gracheva, Olga V. Boltinova (eds), Tax Law (2013)

·         Natalia A. Sheveleva, Tax Law, Part 1 (2001)

·         Natalia A. Sheveleva, Tax Law, Part 2 (2004)

 

Family Law:

·         Alexander P. Sergeev and Yuri K. Tolstoy (eds), Civil Law, Book 3 (4th edn. 2006)

·         Ludmila M. Ptchelintseva, Family Law (6th edn. 2013)

 

Among the best Publishing Houses in Russia, which publish books of a high quality are "Wolters Kluwer" (Russian access), "Prospekt" (Russian access), "Infra-M" (limited English access) and "Statut" (Russian access).

 

Russian law journals also provide a wealth of material on Russian law. The listing below includes the most popular journals among Russian students and legal practitioners.

·         Vestnik of the Supreme Arbitrazh Code (Russian access to the list of publications)

·         Arbitrazh Disputes (Russian access)

·         Corporate Lawyer (Russian access to full versions of selected recent publications)

·         Mergers & Acquisitions (Russian access to the list of publications and a number of articles / limited English access)

·         Economy and Law (Russian access to full publications until 2010, access to newer publications is provide on a fee-basis)

·         Court of Private Arbitration (Russian access to the list of publications and a number of articles / limited English access)

·         The Moscow Journal of International Law (Russian access to the list of publications / limited English access)

·         Zakon (a legal journal) (Russian access)

 

VI.          Legal Education and Career in Russia

 

A.             Legal Education

There is no official ranking of Law Schools in Russia. However, national university rankings prepared by various private expert agencies are becoming increasingly popular (see an overview of available rankings (Russian access)).

 

The only existing ranking of Russian Law Schools (Russian access), prepared by Interfax (a news agency) in 2009, considered the following law schools as Top-5 Law Schools in Russia:

·         No.1: The M.V. Lomonosov Law School of Moscow State University (Russian access)

·         No.2: The Law School of St. Petersburg State University (Russian and English access)

·         No.3: Moscow State Academy of Law (Russian and English access)

·         No.4: The Law School of Moscow State Institute of International Relations (Russian access)

·         No.5: The Urals State Law Academy (Russian and English access)

·          

Most Law Schools are operated and financed by the government.

 

Legal education takes from 4 (to obtain a Bachelor of Laws degree) to 6 years (additional 2 years to obtain a Master of Laws degree after obtaining a Bachelor of Laws degree).

 

Completed education at the High School level (not the College level as in the United States) is required to enter the Law School.

 

B.             Legal Career

Generally, neither a complete legal education, nor passing a bar exam is required to practice law in Russia, including representation clients in any courts. However, only those who have passed a bar exam (i.e. advocates) can represent the defendant in criminal proceedings.

 

The following legal careers are typical for Russia:

·         In-house lawyer;

·         Advocate;

·         Civil service lawyer;

·         Judge;

·         Lawyer at a consulting company; and

·         Lawyer at a law firm.

 

1.         In-house Lawyers

In-house lawyers are the most widespread category of lawyers in Russia.

 

The largest Russian and multinational companies and banks have experienced in-house legal advisers. In case of domestic mergers and acquisitions, it is common for the vendor to have no external legal advice, relying almost entirely on its in-house lawyers.

 

2.         Advocates

Advocates are a separate category of lawyers, who work either in the Unions of Advocates or in their privately owned law practices. This category of lawyers is self-employed and traditionally tends to represent clients in courts, though they may also act, and actually often act as legal advisors with regard to any other legal matters.

 

To be an advocate passing a relevant bar exam is required.

 

3.         Civil Service Lawyers

Profession of a civil services lawyer (e.g., at state agencies regulating land, property, etc. and in law and tax enforcement bodies) is popular but salary levels are well below that in private practice.

 

The work as a civil services lawyer is strictly defined by federal laws and regulations.

 

4.         Judges

Judges are a very prestigious category of lawyers in Russia. There are strict requirements to be a judge.

 

As a general rule, judges shall be citizens of the Russian Federation, over 25 years of age, with a higher education in law, who have served in the legal profession for not less than five years. However, particular federal laws provide for additional, stricter requirements for the judges of the higher court instances.

 

Judges (except for those of the Highest Courts of the Russian Federation) are appointed by the President of Russia.

 

5.         Lawyers at Consulting Companies

International consulting companies, such as the Big 4 companies (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers), are allowed to practice law in Russia. In practice, they have considerable legal groups consisting of approximately 50-100 lawyers who often work in close collaboration with financial and tax advisors.

 

Lawyers at consulting companies usually provide corporate and tax advice. However, the deals in the consulting companies are usually less complex than those at law firms. Moreover, in consulting companies, legal departments often play only a supportive role.

 

6.         Lawyers at Law Firms

International law firms are traditionally considered as the most prestigious employers for the students graduating from Russian Law Schools. An LLM degree from a prominent US or UK law school sometimes serves as a prerequisite to enter a number of international law firms in Moscow.

 

New associates are usually not hired by a particular department, but generally may choose one of the firms’ major practice areas in which to start (banking and finance, capital markets, corporate/commercial, dispute resolution, energy & natural resources, intellectual property).

 

At the very top end for the students and clients are such firms as:

·         Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld

·         Allen & Overy

·         Baker Botts

·         Baker & McKenzie

·         Chadbourne & Parke

·         Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

·         Clifford Chance

·         CMS Cameron McKenna

·         Debevoise & Plimpton

·         Dentons

·         DLA Piper

·         Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

·         Gide Loyrette Nouel

·         Goltsblat BLP

·         Herbert Smith Freehill

·         Hogan Lovells

·         Jones Day

·         Latham & Watkins

·         Linklaters

·         Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

·         Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

·         White & Case

 

According to the Legal 500 Series among the Russian firms, few have managed to truly challenge the dominance of the Western interlopers. Nevertheless, several (such as Egorov, Puginsky, Afanasiev & Partners, Pepeliaev Group, and Muranov, Chernyakov and Partners) do compete with international law firms in terms of hiring law school graduates.

 

The Law Firms ranking with respect to Russia may be found at Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners Russian Internet pages.

 

VII.        Doing Business in Russia Guides

Doing Business in Russia Guides hyperlinked below provide a quick overview of issues including but not limited to the following:

·         General information about the country;

·         Political system;

·         Foreign investment climate;

·         Forms of business organizations;

·         Mergers & acquisitions;

·         Regulation of securities;

·         Antimonopoly regulations;

·         Currency regulations;

·         Employment;

·         Real estate;

·         Intellectual property;

·         Privatization;

·         Insolvency;

·         Taxation; and

·         Accounting practices.

 

Doing Business in Russia Guides prepared by international law firms:

·         Doing Business in Russia 2013, prepared by Baker & McKenzie (May 2013)

·         Doing Business in Russia 2013, prepared by CMS Cameron McKenna (2013)

·         Legal Guide to Investing in Russia, prepared by Herbert Smith Freehill (May 2013)

 

Doing Business in Russia Guides prepared by the Big 4 firms:

·         Doing Business in Russia 2013, prepared by Deloitte (May 2013)

·         Doing Business in the Russian Federation, prepared by the Ernst & Young (February, 2013)

·         Doing Business in Russia 2013, prepared by KPMG (January 2013)

·         Doing Business and Investing in the Russian Federation 2013, prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (2013)