Land disputes resolution

29 Administration in the Sphere of Land Relationships


2.9. Land disputes resolution

There are different definitions of land disputes in the legal doctrine1. Here we will use the widest approach, according to which land disputes are any legal disputes arising from land relationships.

According to art. 158 LCU, land disputes are resolved not only by (1) courts, but also by (2) the local self-government authorities and (3) the central executive authority which is responsible for implementation of state policy in the sphere of land relationships.


Out-of-court land disputes resolution

Some scholars are of the opinion that the provisions allowing land disputes resolution by other authorities than courts does not correspond to art. 124 CoU, according to which justice should be administered exclusively by courts. In my opinion, there is no contradiction, but simply because of the fact that “dispute resolution” by local self-government and executive authorities can not be considered as “administering justice” the “decision” made is not final (it can be appealed against to the court), and it can not be enforced (§ 2 art. 17 LU On enforcement proceedings does not list such decisions among the documents which can be enforced).

However, a certain practice of land disputes “resolution” by local self-government authorities exists. For instance in Zhytomyr there is a city councils Commission for land disputes resolution2; similar commission is created in Kostopil3; there is the Reconciliation commission for land disputes arising from neighbor relationships in Ivano-Frankivsk4 etc. The main function of the Commission for land disputes in Odesa is considering situations where the owners or tenants of adjacent land parcels refuse to approve the boundaries of land parcels (art. 198 LCU) in the course of the privatization procedure, which can lead to a recommendation to the local council to privatize the land parcel in the absence of such approval5. The commissions are also often proposing the options for division of land  in common ownership. Thus, local self-government authorities and their bodies are not administering justice, but rather attempt to act as mediators.

NB. There is a practice of delegating the authority of land disputes resolution from local councils to local executive authorities see, for instance, the decision of Zaporizhya city council of 15.10.03 №43 On delegating the authority of Zaporizhya city council to resolve land disputes arising from neighbor relations to rayon state administrations6. In my opinion, dispute resolution in this situation is deprived of any public aspect, there is no authority in these relationship. Thus, anybody can perform such a function, so the very terms “authority” and “delegation” are hardly applicable here.


Land disputes resolved according to civil procedure

The major approaches of the Supreme Court of Ukraine to land civil disputes resolution are reflected in the Decision of its Plenum of 16.04.2004 №7 On the practice of applying land legislation in civil cases by courts. The procedure for dispute resolution is defined by the Civil Procedure Code of Ukraine.

Existing civil procedure allows to effectively resolve land disputes with having regard to the specific nature of land relationships. For instance, the courts can perform land parcel inspections (art. 140 of the Civil Procedure Code of Ukraine)7. However, such inspection is not always necessary, so the proposal to make such inspection in land disputed mandatory seem to be unreasonable.


Protocol of evidences inspection at the place of their location

(see www.amm.org.ua for a full-size copy)


Disputes on invalidation (nullification, cancellation etc) of the state deeds on the right of ownership of land parcels are one of the most frequent. The claims to invalidate (nullify, cancel etc) are filed in situations when one of the tenants privatized the land parcel in common use without the permission of the other tenant8, when the owners of adjacent land parcel did not approve the boundaries9, when state land parcel was alienated by the authority which overstepped its competence10, when a person privatized two land parcels of the same type of land use11, when the land parcel was privatized where a building belonging to another person was located12, when the owners of adjacent land parcels created obstacles for rainwater runoff13 etc.

In my opinion, the courts should not consider such cases on the merits at all. The state deed is only a document, certifying the right to a land parcel (after 01.01.2013 the State register of titles should be used instead). As opposed, the court should decide the disputes on the rights themselves.



Land disputes resolved according to administrative procedure

The jurisdiction of administrative court extends to the following major types of cases (art. 17 of the Code of Administrative Procedure): (1) disputes on appealing against the decisions (normative or individual), acts or failure to act of persons vested with public authority, and (2) disputes initiated by persons versed with public authority in cases prescribed by law.

NB. On of the most problematic issues related to administering justice in administrative cases remains delimiting jurisdiction between administrative courts on the one hand and common and commercial courts on the other. The problem is caused primarily by the unclear wording of the Code of Administrative Procedure.

After the period of uncertainty the practice was established, which can be roughly described by the following formula: all the cases (even where persons vested with public authority are the parties) where the issue is the protection or remedial of the civil rights in land relationship, should be considered according of civil, or, depending on the subjects of the dispute, of commercial procedure (see, in particular, § 15 of the Recommendations of the Presidium of High Commercial Court of Ukraine of 27.06.2007 №04-5/120 On some issues of jurisdiction over commercial cases, ch. 1 of the Decision of the Plenum of the High Commercial Court of Ukraine On some issues of court practice in cases arising from land relationships of 17.05.2011 №6).

In my opinion, such approach is correct, it fully complies both with art. 15 of the Civil Procedure Code of Ukraine and with the purpose of administrative justice to protect the “weaker party” (an individual) in relationship with persons vested with public authority. If there is no relations of authority between the parties, there is no need to apply the special rules of administrative procedure.

Nevertheless, there is an approach, according to which this established practice of jurisdiction delimitation should be revised in the light of the Decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine of 01.04.2010 №10-рп/2010. The Court was of the opinion, that in disposing of the municipal lands (subpara. «а»-«г» art. 12 LCU) local councils “are acting as a person vested with public authority”, and the provisions of subpara. 1 § 1 art. 17 of the Code of Administrative Procedure “should be interpreted to the effect that public-law disputes which fall under the jurisdiction of administrative courts extend to land disputes of individuals and legal entities with local self-government authorities as persons vested with public authority, related to appealing against their decisions, actions or a failure to act”.

In my opinion, the wording to this decision itself leaved enough space for interpretation, and one of the interpretations possible is that local councils disposing of land parcels can act as persons vested with public authority. One good example is leasing municipal land parcels, when it is total nonsense to assess the actions of the local council on the basis of the requirements to persons vested with pubic authority (§ 3 art. 2 of the Code of Administrative Procedure).

Besides, it is also important that the Constitutional Court neither directly, nor indirectly interpreted the provision of the Civil Procedure Code or the Commercial Procedure Code on jurisdiction. Therefore even if to share the approach according to which the Constitutional Court interpreted art. 17 of the Code of Administrative procedure to the effect the all the land disputes where local self-government authorities participate are falling within the jurisdiction of the administrative courts, the application of § 2 art. 4 of the Code of Administrative Procedure (“the jurisdiction of the administrative courts extends to all public-law disputes, except for the disputes, which according to the law should be decided in another court procedure”) will lead to the conclusion that in any case not only the provisions of art. 17 of the Code of Administrative Procedure, but also the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code or the Commercial Procedure Code on jurisdiction should be applied and, based on the nature of the dispute. Sometimes they will be of public-law nature, sometimes not. It worth noting that such approach is taken in subpara. 1.4 of the Decision of the High Commercial Court of Ukraine of 17.05.2011 №6 On some issues of court practice in cases arising from land relationships.


NB. N. Ilkiv and O. Ilnytsky propose to introduce in procedural legislation rule according to which it the application falls outside courts jurisdiction the court should submit it to the competent court14. This proposal should be supported, especially with the view to the lack of clarity in the rules delimiting jurisdiction between common, commercial and administrative courts.

The proposal mentioned should be supplemented with the prohibition of justice denial in situation when the case was submitted to the court by another court. The example of such rule can be found in German legislation (2nd sentence §17а of the Law on court system - Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz15).


Land disputes resolved in commercial procedure

According to §§ 1, 2 art. 1 of the Commercial Procedure Code of Ukraine, the courts have jurisdiction over commercial disputes between legal entities and individuals who are registered as subjects of business activity.

First of all, commercial courts have jurisdiction over the cases related to commercial contracts, including land lease agreements, servitude agreements etc. Another popular type of disputes are those related to protection of rights to land in business relationships. The practice of resolving land commercial disputes as well as problematic issues related to it is described in the Decision of the High Commercial Court of Ukraine On some issues of the court practice in cases arising form land relationships of 17.05.2011 №6.


The proposal to introduce specialized courts for land disputes resolution

Some authors propose to introduce specialized courts for land disputes resolution, and to establish a special procedure for them16. In my opinion, now the court system of Ukraine is already too complicated, which often becomes an obstacle to whose seeking justice. Introducing specialized courts for land disputes resolution will only aggravate the situation17.

As opposed, the system of land disputes resolution can be significantly improved in case of extensive (and in case with some types of land disputes mandatory for instance, neighbor disputes) use of mediation. Mediation has proved its high effectiveness and allowed to lift the burden of dispute resolution from courts.

Besides, the effectiveness of land disputes resolution can be greatly increased by creating a mechanism, similar to the system of small claims courts existing in the US. These courts are considering the claims limited with certain amount of money following simplified procedure, their decision is final. In my opinion, most neighbor disputes are falling within small claim category, it is not proportional to deal with them according to the general procedure.





1 Осокин Н.Н. Разрешение земельных споров по законодательству РСФСР // Вестник Московского университета. Серия ІІ. Право. 1992. - №1. С.44; Станкевич Н.Г. Земельное право: Учебное пособие. Мн.: Книжный Дом, 2003. С.281; Лейба Л.В. Правове регулювання вирішення земельних спорів. Дис. … к.ю.н. … 12.00.06. Харків: Національна юридична академія України імені Ярослава Мудрого, 2005. С.6.

2 Матеріали справи №2-1716/09, розглянута Богунським райсудом м. Житомира, про визнання рішення недійсним, визнання недійсним державного акту на право власності на земельну ділянку.

3 Справа №2-598/09, розглянута Костопільським райсудом Рівненської обл., про розподіл земельної ділянки, яка знаходиться у спільному користуванні.

4 Положення затвердження рішенням виконкому Івано-Франківської міськради від 16.06.1999 №262.

5 А.І. Ріпенко. Приватне повідомлення.

6 Матеріали справи №2-4019/09, розглянута Шевченківським райсудом м. Запоріжжя, про закріплення норми земельної ділянки, усунення перешкод в здійсненні права на приватизацію земельної ділянки.

7 See, for instance, civil cases: №2-66/09, розглянута Марганецьким міськсудом Дніпропетровської обл. за позовом В.О.А. до Г.Н.Д. про встановлення земельного сервітуту; №2-195/09, розглянута Корецьким райсудом Рівненської обл., за позовом Г.О.К. до З.М.М. про усунення перешкод в користуванні землями загального користування та присадибною земельною ділянкою.

8 Справа №2-1716/09, розглянута Богунським райсудом м. Житомира про визнання рішення недійсним, визнання недійсним державного акту на право власності на земельну ділянку.

9 Справа №2-138/09, розглянута Корольовським райсудом м. Житомира за позовом Б.Р.Й. до Т.І.А., управління земельних ресурсів про визнання недійсним рішення виконавчого комітету Житомирської міськради про передачу у власність земельної ділянки Т.А.П, а також визнання недійсними державних актів на право власності.

10 Справа №2-176/09, розглянута Житомирським райсудом за позовом райпрокурора в інтересах П.Л.В. до Камянської сільради та М.В.В. про визнання недійсним рішення та державного акту на право власності на земельну ділянку.

11 Справа №2-71/09, розглянута Волочиським райсудом Хмельницької обл. за позовом С.С.В. до М.М.І. про усунення перешкод у здійсненні права користування земельною ділянкою (зустрічний позов).

12 Справа №2-36/2009, розглянута Черкаським райсудом Черкаської обл. за позовом Т.Т.М. до Б.Л.І., Білозерської сільради про визнання недійсним і скасування рішення сільради та державного акту на землю.

13 Справа №2-1184/09, розглянута Шепетівським міськрайсудом Хмельницької обл.., за позовом Б.Н.М. до М.Н.С., К.Н.А. про визнання недійсними актів приватної власності на землю.

14 Ільків Н.В., Ільницький О.В. Окремі процесуальні аспекти судового вирішення земельних спорів // Земельне право України. 2006. - №8. С.11-13.

15 Ein Service des Bundesministeriums der Justiz in Zusammenarbeit mit der juris GmbH - www.juris.de // [Електронний ресурс]. Режим доступу: http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bundesrecht/gvg/gesamt.pdf

16 Гуменюк В. Спеціалізованим судам бути! // Землевпорядний вісник. 2008. - №1. С.28; Лейба Л.В. Деякі питання судового захисту земельних прав // Земельне право України. 2006.- №4. С.11-17; Лейба Л.В. Правове регулювання вирішення земельних спорів. Дис. … к.ю.н. … 12.00.06. Харків: Національна юридична академія України імені Ярослава Мудрого, 2005. С.139-141, 160, 165.

17 Ільків Н.В., Ільницький О.В. Окремі процесуальні аспекти судового вирішення земельних спорів // Земельне право України. 2006. - №8. С.16-17.