13 November 2015, the Members of Parliament (MPs) (Victoria Siumar, Yehor Soboliev, Svitlana Zalishchuk, Mustafa-Masi Nayyem, Serhiy Leshchenko, Alexander Abdullin, Olga Chervakova and Oleg Lyashko) registered in Verkhovna Rada the draft law on Amendments to Some Laws of Ukraine on Protection of Independence of the Media and Improvement of the Protection Procedure of Honor, Dignity and Business Reputation (No. 3475).
The law was designed in consultation with lawyers of Media Law Institute (MLI) and envisages the return of the progressive scale charging court fees in cases of protection of honor, dignity and business reputation, which was canceled with last amendments to the law On Court Fee. Hence, filing a non-property claim and claims of non-pecuniary damage with the claim amount of not more than 5 minimum wages, the plaintiff must pay 0.4 percent of minimum wage. Once the claim amount constitutes from 5 to 100 minimum wage – the court fee is 5 percent of the claim amount, but not less than 1 minimum wage; if more than 100 minimum wage – the fee of 10 percent of the claim amount is to be paid.
This scale safeguards the media from unjustified pressure of up to millions of filed cases of complaints to refund moral damages. Consequently, such complaints regardless of whether they are satisfied by a court or not, have a ‘chilling effect’ for the representatives of the media, who investigate socially pivotal themes of exposing corruption practices and informing the society about it.
In addition, the law provides amendments to the Civil Code of Ukraine. In particular, it introduces a distinction between the right of an individual to compensation of moral damage for violation of the right to respect for honor, dignity and business reputation, and legal entities, which by virtue of their legal nature may only demand compensation for non-pecuniary damages of defaming his reputation.
The provisions of the Civil Code shall also be brought into conformity with the Constitution of Ukraine and the international standards implying that the refutation and compensation of damages are only possible if disseminated information was false. Hence, this right does not apply to evaluative judgments, even if they are offensive.
The bill shall also extend special expiration period of one year for all claims relating to the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation in connection with the dissemination of false information about a person, including claims for compensation for moral (non-pecuniary) damage.
The original text of the law in Ukrainian can be found here.
The infographic developed by MLI can be found below.