The administrative protocol is not a verdict: how to prevent a fine

More than 10,000 protocols on administrative offense have already been drawn up in Ukraine because of violating the quarantine. However, the long-awaited ease of the anti-epidemic measures after 11 May 2020 does not guarantee that the number of detected offenses will decrease. Moreover, the number of protocols may even go up due to the complex regulation of business activities regarding the maximum number of visitors, the obligation to provide antiseptics, temperature screening, or monitor microclimate indicators. The fine for quarantine violations can reach UAH 170,000. Therefore, adequate response to drawing up a protocol on an administrative offense is crucial.
The existence of an administrative protocol does not prove the guilt of the person. A decision to impose an administrative penalty for quarantine violation has to be made by the court. If the protocol has been drawn up, consider the following recommendations to mitigate the risks of a negative court decision:
Refrain from comments on the content of the protocol or written explanations.
The explanations specified in the protocol are part of the case materials. The court will make a decision on the basis of these materials. If your remarks happen to contradict the defense line agreed with the lawyer, this will reduce the chances to succeed in court.
Refrain from an aggressive behavior during the process of drawing up a protocol,
as this can only lead to additional negative consequences.
Use procedural mistakes of regulatory authorities.
Court practice shows that police officers often make procedural mistakes while drawing up a protocol. The detected mistakes in the protocol will increase your chances of getting a court decision in your favour.

The most common mistakes of the protocol are:

  • failure to explain the rights and obligations of the person
  • lack of information on what specific quarantine restriction was violated
  • non-delivery of a copy of the protocol to the offender
  • non-compliance with the demands regarding the form of the protocol (the date and place of its drawing up, position, the full name of the person who drew up the protocol and who committed the offense must be indicated)
  • wrong identification of the offender. A separate category of common mistakes is drawing up of a protocol regarding the improper subject: protocols often address employees instead of officials of the legal entity
    Appeal to the insignificance of the offense
    Article 22 of the Code of Administrative Offenses provides that the court may release the offender from the administrative liability if the offense is recognized as insignificant. Many companies had to stop any business activity during the quarantine. Therefore, violations of restrictions were usually obvious and intentional. However, even in these instances, the courts were ready to release from the liability because of the insignificance of some offenses. Minor violations of the quarantine-related rules after the permission to continue working is more likely to be considered as an insignificant offense.
    Pay attention to the lack of evidence
    The recent court practice shows that courts often require a comprehensive evidence base. For example, in one of the cases the court required to provide receipts, explanations of the persons who bought the goods, or the relevant video in order to prove sales during the quarantine. The court may not even accept the attached photos, as they are not necessarily related to the events mentioned in the protocol.
    Remember: the fact of signing the protocol does not mean a guilty plea. The signature only proves that the person reviewed the document. Therefore, your signature in the protocol doesn't affect the outcome of the trial.

    Bear in mind that the risk of being brought to administrative liability will increase because of the quarantine easing. The regulatory agencies will be increasingly picky. So far, it's been quite rare for the Ukrainian courts to bring a person to the administrative liability because of quarantine restrictions violations. However, if there are violations of anti-epidemic measures, a legally competent line of defense is the best way to avoid a fine or reduce its amount.

    Domestic Litigation team at INTEGRITES is ready to provide clients with full legal support on the newly introduced quarantine-related changes.
    Contacts:
    Oleksandr Onishchenko, Partner
    +38 044 391 38 53, Oleksandr.Onishchenko@integrites.com
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