L&M Finance Group

Changes in legislation in March for the period of martial law

The Law of Ukraine "On the National Informatisation Programme" came into force on 1 March.

The Law provides for the establishment and operation of the Unified Information System for Accounting of the National Informatisation Programme (UISAIP), which is intended for the formation, control, monitoring, processing (acceptance, accounting, processing) and storage of programmes, tasks, projects and works of the National Informatisation Programme and materials to them.

The law aims to improve the efficiency of organisational and legal mechanisms for the formation and implementation of the National Informatisation Programme and provides an effective mechanism for relations between participants in the process of informatisation of the country, digitalisation, and e- government.

In particular, the law sets goals to broaden the scope of the programme to address a number of key objectives, such as:

· ensuring the development of the information society;

· cyber defense of critical information infrastructure;

· application of information and digital technologies in public administration and socio-economic relations;

· overcoming digital inequality;

· Increasing the availability of broadband Internet access in remote areas;

· development and implementation of artificial intelligence in Ukraine;

· implementation, modernisation, development and maintenance of the electronic document management system;

· security of information activities and cyber defence by building, developing, integrating and using modern information systems, communication networks, information resources and information technologies;

· Ukraine's integration into the global information space.

Since March, the Diia app has been able to obtain a court decision in a case in electronic form.

According to Mykhailo Fedorov, Minister of Digital Transformation, "The Diia app has been offering court notifications for a year now, which are informational messages about court hearings. Now, in a few clicks, you can also receive a court decision electronically instead of going to court. Moreover, such an electronic document has the same legal force as its paper counterpart.

To receive court decisions through the Diia app, do the following:

· log in to the Diia app;

· go to the Services tab;

· on the Services tab, select Court cases;

· the ability to view court cases and, if necessary, download them to your phone.

This service was implemented by the Ministry of Digital Transformation jointly with the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine, the State Enterprise "Centre of Court Services" and the State Enterprise "Information Court Systems".

On 17 March, the Ministry of Infrastructure announced the extension of the "transport visa-free regime" between Ukraine and the EU.

At a Government meeting, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal noted that the Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union on Freight Transport by Road had been extended for another year, until 30 June 2024.

The agreement simplifies the procedure for the recognition of Ukrainian driving documents and exempts holders of driving licenses issued by one of the parties from the requirement to hold an international driving license.

"Transport visa-free regime is an integral part of our integration with the EU. It is an opportunity for more Ukrainian entrepreneurs to enter European markets. This is part of building an export-oriented economy in Ukraine," the Prime Minister said.

A law has been passed in March that will allow the SSU to control the movement of passengers on international and domestic flights.

Ukraine will increase control over the movement of passengers in intercity and international transport under a new law. The authorities have instructed the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) to provide additional control over passengers using such modes of transport as buses, trains, air and sea transport. In particular, it is reported that the SSU will be able to check the documents of passengers and ban them from travelling if they are found to be missing the necessary documents or have certain restrictions on their movement. The SSU will also provide foreign partners with information about people travelling abroad. When operating international flights from/to Ukraine or transit flights through Ukrainian airports, the air carrier is obliged to provide the Anti-Terrorist Centre of the Security Service of Ukraine with information on passengers of such international flights in order to counter the movement of persons involved in terrorist activities.

The purpose of such measures is to increase the security of the national territory and fight terrorism and other crimes.

On 20 March, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a draft law to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights in accordance with European legislation, in particular:

· the possibility of withdrawal from civil circulation of goods manufactured or introduced into civil circulation in violation of intellectual property rights, as well as materials and tools used primarily for the manufacture of goods in violation of intellectual property rights, at the expense of the person who committed the infringement;

· additional powers to apply a lump sum payment instead of other remedies to protect intellectual property rights, provided that the right was infringed by the defendant unintentionally and without negligence, and the application of remedies is disproportionate to the damage caused to the plaintiff;

· specifying the procedure for requesting evidence in the form of information on the origin and distribution networks of goods or services infringing intellectual property rights;

· additional opportunities for publication in the media or bringing to the public attention of another court by means of information on the infringement of intellectual property rights and the content of the court decision on such infringement at the expense of the person who committed the offence.

According to the draft law, a new procedure for the protection of industrial design rights will be introduced in Ukraine, aimed at simplifying the procedure for obtaining and registering industrial designs, reducing the time for processing applications for registration and increasing the effectiveness of the protection of intellectual property rights in Ukraine.

The draft law was developed to ensure more effective protection of intellectual property rights in Ukraine and to increase the competitiveness of Ukrainian goods in the international market.

On 20 March, the Verkhovna Rada passed in the second reading a draft law on the automatic exchange of information on financial accounts - the so-called Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

According to the CRS standard, participating countries must exchange information on the financial accounts of their residents who are citizens of another participating country. This standard contributes to the fight against capital flight and tax evasion.

Under the law, Ukrainian banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions will be required to carry out mandatory identification of their customers, check their citizenship, and perform other procedures in accordance with the CRS standard.

The draft law was prepared to fulfil Ukraine's obligations to international organizations and partners, as well as to ensure more effective control over the circulation of financial assets, in particular to combat attempts to transfer capital abroad and tax evasion.

The law also provides for an increase in the retention period for primary documents from three years to five years.

According to the draft law and the CRS implementation plan in Ukraine, the first reporting period is expected to start on 1 January 2023 and end on 31 December 2023. Thus, due diligence procedures for determining the reporting accounts should be applied from 1 January 2023. The first exchange of tax information was supposed to take place in 2024. However, due to the war, the deadlines specified in the draft law are postponed to the period after the end of the war.

The draft law also requires Ukraine's reporting financial institutions to apply due diligence measures to financial accounts to determine whether the accounts are subject to automatic exchange (whether the accounts are reportable). The CRS standard contains separate due diligence rules for reportable accounts and reporting of reportable accounts starting from 1 July 2023.

All penalties specified in this law for violation of the requirements for submission/failure to submit reports and other information will take effect from 1 January 2024.

According to the final provisions, the Law will come into force on the day following the day of its publication.

On 31 March, the Law of Ukraine "On Media" came into force.

The law aims to ensure freedom of speech and access to information by establishing a legal framework for the media.

The Law on Media, which was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, complies with the standards of EU Directive 2018/1808 on audiovisual media services and the standards of the Council of Europe.

The law establishes the legal basis for the activities of the mass media, defines their rights and obligations, as well as the rights and obligations of citizens involved in the creation and dissemination

of information. The law establishes rules for the media to operate in the information space of Ukraine in order to ensure freedom of speech and access to information.

One of the most important innovations is the introduction of amendments to the powers of the national media regulator, the National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting (National Council).

The amendments give the National Council new powers, in particular, to monitor the implementation of media legislation and to consider complaints against media organisations.

The following are among the excluded powers of the regulator:

· monitoring compliance with technical quality standards and norms for television and radio programmes;

· monitoring compliance with legislation on the protection of public morality;

· control over compliance with legal requirements for reporting on the use of copyright and (or) related rights;

· summarising the practice of applying legislation, participating in the preparation of proposals for improving legislation in this area

· establishing the procedure for documenting, creating, recording and preserving copies of programmes and broadcasts of broadcasting organisations

· establishing and maintaining the State Archive of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine.

The new powers vested in the regulator include the following:

· establishing criteria for online media entities;

· establishing criteria for classifying information as unlawful - with regard to incitement to hatred, calls for violent change, overthrow of the constitutional order, incitement to or waging of an aggressive war or military conflict, propaganda or calls for terrorism, promotion of the use of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances, cruelty to animals, information that denies or justifies the criminal nature of the totalitarian communist regime, etc;

· defining the criteria for classifying linear media as thematic media and the volume of the national product for them;

· Establishing criteria for classifying advertising information (advertising messages) as harmful in accordance with the requirements of the Law on Advertising;

· defining the requirements for the volume of the European product for national and regional TV channels with a small share of the audience;

· development and adoption of recommendations for the implementation of legislative requirements for a European product;

· Developing an action plan to ensure accessibility of services for people with disabilities;

· making a decision on the classification of media services as intended for the territory and audience

of Ukraine;

· Regulation, maintenance and updating of the list of audiovisual media services on demand/services of the aggressor state's audiovisual service provider;

· determines, in agreement with the AMCU and the Communications Regulatory Authority, the procedure for developing and approving maximum tariffs for services provided by electronic communications service providers for broadcasting using the radio frequency spectrum (RFS), and approves these tariffs;

· determines the period necessary for the recovery of the media sector and reduces the volume of national production during this period (martial law or state of emergency);

· develops and approves the strategy of the National Council and makes amendments to it;

· approves the General Contractual Conditions for the Provision of Electronic Communications

· Services for Broadcasting Using the RFS;

· develops and approves the procedure for holding conferences of public associations and electing members of supervisory boards of companies engaged in municipal public broadcasting, as well as a sample charter of the company and a sample employment contract with its head.

The text also states that the new law provides for changes to broadcasting permits, including a reduction in the timeframe for their issuance, simplification of the procedure for obtaining them, and changes to the requirements for applications for broadcasting permits.

The main provisions of the law relate to the regulation of media activities in Ukraine, including the rights and obligations of citizens engaged in the creation and dissemination of information. The law also establishes rules for media registration and financing, as well as liability for disseminating false information. It is envisaged that each media market participant will have its own electronic account, which will be used for communication between the regulator and media market participants.

One of the important aspects of the law is to ensure freedom of speech and equal access to the media. The law provides for the right of access to information, prohibition of discrimination based on language, nationality, religion, etc., and protection of journalists from pressure and harassment.

On 28 March, the Law of Ukraine "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Improving Legislation in the Field of Subsoil Use" came into force.

The Law aims to improve the legal framework for the use of subsoil in Ukraine and amends several legislative acts, including the Subsoil Law, the Law on Production Sharing Agreements and the Law on Oil and Gas.

Among the important changes proposed by the law are the following:

1. Establishment of a new subsoil licensing system designed to streamline the licensing process and improve transparency and accountability in the industry.

2. Establishment and operation of the Unified State Electronic Geoformation System for Subsoil Use, which should eliminate restrictions on access to information in the field of subsoil use and significantly simplify access to this industry for investors in general.

3. Introduce new rules for the transfer of subsoil use rights, including a ban on the transfer of subsoil use rights to aggressor countries.

4. Cancellation of the ban on alienation of subsoil use rights. Under the amendments, subsoil use rights (both in full and in part) can be sold or contributed to the charter capital or as a contribution to a joint venture. The legislation also regulates the procedure and procedures required for such actions.

5. Possibility of allowing foreigners to use subsoil - the legislation will now clearly provide that foreigners who have no restrictions on the use of subsoil in Ukraine (i.e., no ties to the aggressor country and are not subject to sanctions) acquire the right to use subsoil on the same basis as Ukrainian residents.

6. The approach to the terms of subsoil use has been changed: the right to permanent use of subsoil has been excluded.

The term of paid use of subsoil is divided depending on the type of subsoil use:

§ from 3 to 20 years - geological exploration, including pilot development, of minerals with subsequent extraction of minerals (industrial development of deposits), extraction of minerals, construction and operation of underground facilities not related to extraction of minerals, operation of underground facilities related to prevention of environmental flooding as a result of mine closure;

§ from 3 to 50 years - creation of geological areas and facilities of important scientific, cultural, sanitary and health significance (scientific testing grounds, geological reserves, nature reserves, natural monuments, medical and health facilities), except for oil and gas subsoil;

§ the time limits set by the Law of Ukraine "On Oil and Gas" relating to the use of oil and gas subsoil. These terms have not changed in general, except for the removal from the list of terms for geological exploration of oil and gas subsoil, including pilot development of deposits onshore (which was up to 5 years), on the continental shelf and within the exclusive (maritime) economic zone of Ukraine (up to 10 years). This amendment requires clarification or specification of the types and terms of use of oil and gas subsoil.

7. The list of types of subsoil use has been clarified.

Now this exceptional list is being compiled:

· geological exploration, including pilot development, of minerals with subsequent extraction of minerals (industrial development of deposits);

· mining;

· construction and operation of underground facilities not related to mining, including facilities for underground storage of oil, gas and other substances and materials, the list of which is established by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, disposal of hazardous substances and production waste, wastewater discharge, geothermal energy (subsoil heat), operation of underground facilities related to the prevention of environmental flooding as a result of mine closure;

· Creation of geological areas and objects of important scientific, cultural, sanitary and healthcare significance (scientific testing grounds, geological reserves, nature reserves, natural monuments, medical and healthcare facilities), except for oil and gas subsoil;

· performance of works (activities) stipulated by the production sharing agreement.

8. Possibility to obtain a special permit for geological exploration without an auction, including experimental and industrial development, of minerals with subsequent extraction of minerals (industrial development of deposits) of local importance, extraction of minerals of local importance - provided that the total area of the subsoil plot for which the special permit for subsoil use is granted does not exceed 25 hectares, and the applicant is the owner of the land plot (several adjacent land plots) within which such subsoil plot is located. At the same time, the legislation provides for the possibility to amend the existing special permit and expand the boundaries of the granted plot by up to 50% under a set of the following conditions:

· the boundaries of prospective deposits identified in the course of geological exploration (additional exploration) go beyond the boundaries of the subsoil area granted for use and are confirmed by the relevant protocols of the State Commission of Ukraine for Mineral Reserves;

· no works and studies related to geological exploration of subsoil have been registered on the adjacent subsoil plot, and such adjacent subsoil plot has not been granted for use and/or put up for auction.