The Ukrainian legal system is a civil law system.

In Ukraine, a license is not required to practice law and many lawyers practise under the title of legal consultant.

The legal profession in Ukraine is divided into two categories: advocates (адвoкat) who are regulated and legal advisers/commercial lawyer.

Advocates are members of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, are regulated by law and are subject to ethical rules and standards. Article 45 of the Criminal Procedural Code reserves the role of defence counsel in criminal court proceedings to advocates. The representation in court of individual who commit administrative offences is also reserved to advocates.

Legal advisers are usually law graduates with no further legal qualifications. Legal advisers can provide advice to clients and represent clients in court in civil proceedings.

The Ukrainian National Bar Association was established in 2012 according to a new Law of Ukraine “On the Bar and Practice of Law”. It is a non-governmental, independent, professional association of advocates of Ukraine with mandatory membership. The UNBA is responsible for admission to the profession, discipline and regulation of advocates’ activities.

Alongside the Ukrainian National Bar Association, there are a number of voluntary bar associations such as the Ukrainian Bar Association, Union of Lawyers of Ukraine, and Union of Advocates of Ukraine.

Re-qualification as an English and Welsh solicitor 

Ukraine was added to the recognised jurisdictions list for the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) in 2014.The QLTS is the route by which lawyers from other jurisdictions can be admitted as solicitors of England and Wales.

The QLTS does not require a degree in common law or even an LLM from a UK university. Qualifying via this route does not require a training contract or experience with a UK law firm either. The Scheme is managed by the Law Society for England and Wales’ regulatory arm, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), and by Kaplan QLTS.

The tests are designed to ensure that requalifying lawyers meet the same standard of knowledge and skill required of a locally-qualified solicitor of England and Wales.

For more information on QTLS and application process please visit the SRA’s website.

Right of Foreign Lawyers to Practice in Ukraine

Foreign law firms wishing to establish in Ukraine can do so by establishing a local office or branch of their overseas office, which is treated as a commercial entity and subject to the relevant local legislation on commercial activities. There is no requirement for foreign lawyers to register with a Ukrainian bar association to practice as a foreign lawyer.

In 2016, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine, which states that only advocates have the right to represent clients before the courts in Ukraine (civil, commercial, criminal and administrative courts). The changes to the Constitution will be phased in as listed in the table below and from 1 January 2019, foreign lawyers and non-advocates will no longer be able to represent clients in all courts in Ukraine (including courts of first instance) unless they are included in the Ukranian Advocates register. 

The changes to the Constitution will be phased in as follows:
 From 1 January 2017  foreign lawyers and non-advocates will no longer be able to represent clients in the Supreme Court and Higher Courts
From 1 January 2018  foreign lawyers and non-advocates will no longer be able to represent clients before the Appellate Courts
 From 1 January 2019  foreign lawyers non-advocates will no longer be able to represent clients before the courts in Ukraine (civil, commercial, criminal and administrative courts) unless they are included in the Ukrainian Advocates register.

A foreign advocate wishing to be admitted to advocate practice in Ukraine, will need to file an application together with the required list of documents, pay the necessary fees, and be included in the Ukrainian advocates register by the Regional Bar Council.

A foreigner who is not an advocate abroad, must pass the qualification exam in order to become an advocate in Ukraine.

WTO Position

Ukraine is a member of the WTO and has given binding commitments to allow all types of legal practice (cross-border supply, consumption abroad and commercial presence), subject to some horizontal restrictions requiring foreign lawyers coming to Ukraine to obtain work permit.