Results of the 10th Anniversary St. Petersburg International Legal Forum
The country’s leading lawyers, experts, and specialists in jurisprudence and law gathered in St. Petersburg for the anniversary edition of the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum, which has become “an authoritative platform for professional discussions on a wide range of issues related to the history of law and its development in the modern world”.
3,000 participants from Russia and 45 foreign countries including Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Central African Republic, China, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Donetsk People’s Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Luhansk People’s Republic, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Republic of Abkhazia, Republic of Belarus, Republic of South Ossetia, Serbia, Singapore, Somalia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, UAE, United Kingdom, United States, and Uzbekistan among others visited the Forum to discuss the pressing legal issues currently facing the country and to offer their proposals for dealing with the urgent problems of developing and strengthening international law.
Guests and participants included international legal experts, in-house lawyers, litigation experts, and representatives of the bar, the notarial system, and the media.
The Forum venue was visited by the President of the Constitutional Court of Armenia Arman Dilanyan and the Deputy Chair of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Abkhazia Diana Pilia.
The Forum was attended by representatives of the Supreme Courts of Guinea, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Belarus, and Tajikistan.
SPILF has long attracted participants from beyond the legal community. The Forum was attended by representatives of scientific communities, and international and domestic organizations, associations and unions.
The international event was attended by more than 20 high-ranking officials that included justice ministers, heads of leading international organizations and associations, and heads of the diplomatic corps.
The Forum was attended by 16 representatives of federal executive and legislative bodies from within the Russian Federation.
According to Anton Kobyakov, Adviser to the President of the Russian Federation and Executive Secretary of the Organizing Committee of the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum, such broad representation of Russian and international participants can be explained by the fact that “issues of international law and the results of joint work by the entire community to develop new approaches to the legal basis of today’s multipolar world have taken on particular relevance today”. He also noted that SPILF is a platform for discussing best practices that can then be used to improve law enforcement practices.
100 events were held over four days, including 24 sessions at the International Youth Legal Forum. Representatives of the legal, business, political and law enforcement communities took advantage of the numerous discussions to develop common approaches to resolving questions on modernizing law for today’s world in the interests of individuals and society.
Taking part in the main programme were more than 500 speakers, 300 in person, and more than 80 experts via video conferencing, with more than 130 specialists taking part in the youth sessions.
The main theme of this year’s St. Petersburg International Legal Forum is ‘Staying within the Law’, which is particularly relevant when it comes to protecting national interests at a time of ongoing global change.
The Forum’s business programme was structured around 6 thematic tracks, each containing a wide range of topical legal issues.
The first track of the business programme was entitled ‘Law, Business, and Sanctions’ and focused on the impact of sanctions on corporate governance and anti-monopoly regulation. Fierce debate took place on bankruptcy, legal mechanisms for protecting investment projects in turbulent times, and the finer points of legal protection for Russian businesses abroad in an environment of sanctions. The session ‘Corporate Governance: Responding to the Challenges Posed by Sanctions’ was particularly popular and saw experts discuss why sanctions were a good reason to make national legal regulations more convenient for domestic businesses to adapt to the challenging new environment.
Discussions in the ‘People and Law’ track touched on issues of relevance to the future of human rights, legal regulation in family law, genetics, inheritance law, and social entrepreneurship, the right to self-defence and protection of the home in the face of today’s global challenges, and participants talked about challenges in dealing with financial consumer disputes involving financial institutions.
During the ‘Right to Self-Defence and Protection of the Home: Theory and Law Enforcement’ session, lawyers discussed the recently adopted amendments to Resolution No. 19 of the Plenum of the Supreme Court ‘On Necessary Defence’ dated 27 September 2012, which established an obligation to proceed from a presumption of innocence while the court verifies the defendant’s arguments for necessary defence.
The session ‘Law and Order: Values and Principles Amidst the Global Challenges of Our Time’ came to the conclusion that digitalization was in keeping with the challenges of our time and was changing our way of life but that it was important not to forget about safeguarding human rights.
Participants of the third block, ‘Law in International Relations’, discussed the desirability of reforming the existing world order and Russia’s role in shaping international order for a multipolar world. During the session ‘Peace and Law’, Chairman of the Investigative Committee of Russia Alexander Bastrykin commented on the correlation between international and national law in the current political situation. The Head of the Investigative Committee of Russia noted that “issues concerning the Russian Federation’s participation in international and, in particular, European institutions have long been a cause for concern”. In regards to this the minister called to mind a proposal to abandon the primacy of international law over national law. The Chairman stressed that “there is no question about the importance of international law, but it must be universal and actually enforceable”.
The experts emphasized that the discussions at the legal Forum concerning the international order for a multipolar world had kicked off a new phase of fundamental legal research.
The fourth thematic block, ‘Digital Transformation’, was of particular interest to the participants, who were able to share their real-life experiences with digital technologies. The track included a number of discussions on the legal regulation of databases, the digital transformation of judicial enforcement, legal guidelines for digitalization of healthcare, and other important aspects of digitalization. In the session ‘Cryptocurrencies and Their Place in the Economy of the Future’ for example, participants shared information on how courts are dealing with cryptocurrency cases and the place of digital currency in the economy of the future.
During the discussion on ‘Human Resources – Our Everything’, particular attention was drawn to how unprepared the legal system has been for digitalization, to an awareness of what ‘content law’ is, and to the lack of a unified approach to training in digital law.
The fifth track, ‘Control, Oversight and Regulation’, dealt with the development of forms and methods of tax control, current aspects of anti-monopoly regulation and economic support in the current environment, and the anti-corruption complex in the context of economic sanctions. Discussion participants noted that tax monitoring has proven to be effective without desk and field audits and that the number of participants continued to increase steadily. Marina Krasheninnikova, Head of the Tax Monitoring Directorate at the Federal Tax Service (FTS of Russia), talked about how “in 2022 we have 339 companies undergoing tax monitoring. And this figure proves that it is a more convenient, more reliable form of tax control for taxpayers”.
The sixth block, ‘Justice and Litigation’, looked at current issues related to the formation of arbitral tribunals in the modern environment and third-party funding of court and arbitration proceedings. One important topic covered was the discussion of judicial mechanisms in the dialogue between the EAEU Court and national courts.
Participants of the Anniversary Forum also discussed topics that were somewhat less conventional, such as ‘Genetics and Law: The Challenges of 2020–2030’ and ‘Cancel Culture: The Right to Cancel, or a Cancellation of Rights?’.
According to Russian Minister of Justice Konstantin Chuychenko, the Forum also focused on ‘hot topics’, such as the relationship between the law and morality, legal opposition to far-right ideologies and movements such as Nazism and Fascism, justification for the use of force, and the issue of disarmament as a principle of international law.
Valery Zorkin, Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, took part in the Forum. He delivered a lecture entitled ‘Russian Law: Alternatives and Risks During a Global Crisis’ during which he noted the need for Russia to “politically and legally rethink the principles we now intend to live by” and to streamline the country’s legal development in the face of sanctions.
According to participants, the Forum has become more than just a platform for the state to meet with business and discuss best practices: it has also become a useful tool for developing legal relations in keeping with the current international agenda.
The plenary session was devoted to the key theme of the Forum: ‘Law in a Multipolar World’.
Vladimir Putin addressed the plenary session with a message by video. The President said: “It is true, a multipolar system of international relations is now being formed. It is an irreversible process; it is happening before our eyes and is objective in nature. The position of Russia and many other countries is that this democratic, more just world order should be built on the basis of mutual respect and trust, and, of course, on the generally accepted principles of international law and the UN Charter.
At the same time, it is being said that law cannot adequately respond to the problems and challenges of today, to today’s turbulent and fundamental changes. There are also more radical assessments that the idea of international law is being dismantled. I fundamentally disagree with these conclusions.”
The plenary session was addressed by Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation; Maja Popovic, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Serbia; Kumar Prashant, President, The Bar Association of India, and Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov, Vice-President, Russian Association of International Law, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee Against Torture.
The international significance of the main legal event was further highlighted by an open meeting of justice ministers during the Forum entitled ‘State Justice in Human Service’, chaired by Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation Konstantin Chuychenko. The ministers discussed the challenges and prospects of improving the state justice system.
The event was attended by Thi Da Oo, Union Minister for Ministry of Legal Affairs and Attorney General of the Union of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar; Tang Yijun, Minister of Justice of the People’s Republic of China; Manuel Monteiro de Queiroz Francisco, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Republic of Angola; Ahmad Al-Sayyed, Minister of Justice of the Syrian Arab Republic;Kanat Mussin, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan; Ayaz Baetov, Minister of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic; Muzaffar Ashurien, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Tajikistan; Karen Andreasyan, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Armenia.
During the meeting, Chuychenko made three important statements. He said that the Russian Ministry of Justice was developing a unique digital service, ‘Legal Assistance’, for the Public Service Portal.The service is slated to launch at the end of 2022 in ten pilot regions, after which it will be rolled out nationwide.
The Minister of Justice also announced that beginning in June 2023, the Russian civil registry would switch to a new registry model aimed at eliminating paperwork. In addition, the Minister noted that the Russian Ministry of Justice would introduce an electronic apostille on 1 July of this year.
“Nevertheless, even the most sophisticated technology hides a human being: the state is built by and for the people. And as long as we work with this in mind, we will stay within the law,” Chuychenko said.
19 agreements and treaties had been signed as part of SPILF.
- The Russian Ministry of Economic Development, the Federal Tax Service of Russia, the Association of Banks of Russia, the SME Corporation, the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Bankruptcy Club, and the Foundation for the Support of Legal Research and Education signed a memorandum to create a public platform aimed at preventing insolvency and facilitating the rehabilitation of businesses.
- The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation signed a cooperation agreement.
- The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic signed two documents: an Extradition Treaty and a Treaty on Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.
- The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Abkhazia signed an Interstate Agreement on the Recognition of Arbitral Awards and Judgements in Economic Cases.
- The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN), and the Greenhouses of Russia Association signed an agreement to develop a network of correctional centres.
- The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Serbia signed a Programme of Cooperation between the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Serbia for the period 2022–2023.
- Synergy University and the Pravo.ru Legal Media Portal signed a Cooperation Agreement.
- Synergy University and the Moscow Inter-Territorial Bar Association Klishin & Partners signed a Cooperation Agreement.
- The Moscow Ombudsman for the Protection of Entrepreneurs’ Rights signed 4 agreements with the Russian Bar Association, Pepeliaev Group LLC, Lemchik, Krupsky & Partners LLC, and the Moscow City Duma Commission on Legislation, Regulations, Rules, and Procedures.
- The Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation and Synergy University signed a Cooperation Agreement.
- The Federal Notary Chamber (FNP) and Synergy University signed a Cooperation Agreement.
International Youth Legal Forum
On the opening day of SPILF 2022, the International Youth Legal Forum was held with young lawyers and students of law discussing the outlook for the profession in the current foreign policy environment.
They were addressed by their senior colleagues, leading national lawyers, who discussed important issues of international law, including public international law in the cyber age, problems of digital law, modern progressive technologies, as well as topics related to sports arbitration, NFT technologies, and legal regulation of the gaming industry among others.
Among a wide range of topics, the topic of legal education stood out as being of particular importance. Alexander Bastrykin, Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Konstantin Chuychenko, Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation, and Olga Aleksandrova, Rector of the All-Russian State University of Justice, addressed the students, postgraduate students, and young lawyers. The speakers emphasized that Russia’s legal tradition was one of the world’s best and that the combination of the traditions of domestic education and innovation would be the key to our future.
The topic of education served to unite all of the SPILF thematic blocks. It was raised in the ‘Law, Business, and Sanctions’ track, which saw lawyers discuss cooperation between universities and business, there were discussions in the ‘People and Law’ thematic block on the development of legal education in Russia, and participants of the ‘Law in International Relations’ block evaluated digital educational platforms in Russia, CIS, and around the world.
An eventful and entertaining cultural programme was prepared for the participants of SPILF 2022. The St. Petersburg Seasons Culture Festival brought together a number of events including art exhibitions, music concerts, and theatre productions on the stages and in the museums of St. Petersburg’s leading cultural institutions. Participants and guests of the Forum were treated to an Art Cocktail of world opera and ballet hits on the Mariinsky Theatre’s new stage.
Participants also had the opportunity to take in a world-class performance by the St. Petersburg State Theatre of Musical Comedy, to feast their eyes on exhibitions at the State Russian Museum, the State Museum of Political History of Russia, the Manege Central Exhibition Hall, and the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg, and to listen to timeless classics at the Shostakovich St. Petersburg Philharmonic and original interpretations of tunes from Broadway plays and Hollywood films at the St. Petersburg Jazz Philharmonic.
The unique exhibition “St. Isaac’s Cathedral – Temple of Peter the Great”, timed to coincide with the 350th anniversary of the birth of Peter the Great, was also on offer to Forum participants.
In keeping with tradition, the cultural events were prepared not only for the Forum participants themselves, but also for the inhabitants of St. Petersburg.
The Forum hosted a Chess Lounge, a joint project by RC-Sport and St. Petersburg Chess Federation. The venue provided opportunities for business networking and playing chess. Chess Lounge hosted tournaments for businessmen and politicians, simultaneous exhibitions with grandmasters, and meetings with the world’s leading chess players.
The 10th St. Petersburg International Legal Forum was held with the support of:
Title Partner – Gazprombank (Joint Stock Company)
Strategic Partner – Rosseti PJSC
Official Partners – Gazprom PJSC, MegaFon PJSC, RZD JSCO, Tashir Group
The St. Petersburg International Legal Forum was organized by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation and the Roscongress Foundation.
Read more about the results of the SPBILF-2022 on the official website of the Forum: legalforum.info