Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Cправа № 509/3010/19 (Case No. 509/3010/19) цивільного суду у складі Верховного Суду (Civil Cassation Court within the Supreme Court of Ukraine) (2022)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

The appellant sued his ex-wife, the respondent, regarding the division of property acquired during the marriage as the ex-spouses’ joint property. The appellant noted that during their marriage, the spouses accumulated funds that were kept in the respondent’s bank account. However, immediately after the divorce, the respondent independently managed the funds and bought an apartment. The appellant’s main argument was that, according to Ukrainian family law, the dissolution of marriage does not terminate the right of joint co-ownership of property acquired during the marriage. When the spouses’ jointly owned property is divided, each spouse shall receive an equal share, unless otherwise envisaged by the marriage contract. Thus, the appellant argued that half of the money belonged to him. The respondent claimed that the money was her private property because it was a gift from her friend from the Slovak Republic. The first-instance court satisfied the appellant’s claim, noting that, according to Ukrainian legislation, the deed of gift agreement should have been, but was not, notarized, rendering it null and void. Consequently, the money was the joint property of the spouses. The Court of Appeal overturned this decision. The Supreme Court also supported the position that the court of first instance erroneously satisfied the husband's claim because, as a gift from a citizen of the Slovak Republic, the Ukrainian courts should apply Slovak law, which does not require notarization of the deed of gift agreement. Thus, the Supreme Court concluded that the money was the woman's personal property and could not be divided.

Скаржник звернувся до суду з позовом до своєї колишньої дружини (відповідача) про поділ майна, нажитого за час шлюбу як спільної сумісної власності подружжя. Скаржник зазначив, що за час шлюбу подружжя накопичило кошти, які зберігалися на банківському рахунку відповідача. Проте, одразу після розірвання шлюбу, відповідач самостійно розпорядилась коштами та придбала квартиру. Основним аргументом скаржника було те, що відповідно до сімейного законодавства України розірвання шлюбу не припиняє права спільної сумісної власності на майно, набуте за час шлюбу. При поділі майна, що є спільною сумісною власністю подружжя, вважається, що частки кожного із подружжя є рівними, якщо інше не встановлено домовленістю між ними або договором. Таким чином, скаржник стверджував, що половина грошей належить йому. Відповідач стверджувала, що гроші є її приватною власністю, оскільки це подарунок її друга із Словацької Республіки. Суд першої інстанції задовольнив позов скаржника, зазначивши, що відповідно до законодавства України договір дарування мав бути (проте не був) нотаріально посвідчений, що робить його нікчемним. Отже, гроші були спільною власністю подружжя. Апеляційний суд скасував це рішення. Верховний Суд також підтримав позицію про те, що суд першої інстанції помилково задовольнив позов чоловіка, оскільки щодо подарунку громадянина Словацької Республіки українські суди мають застосовувати законодавство Словаччини, яке не вимагає нотаріального посвідчення договору дарування. Таким чином, Верховний суд дійшов висновку, що гроші є особистою власністю жінки і не підлягають розподілу.

Sentencia nº 1325 de Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (Número de Expediente: 11-0645) Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (2011)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, International law

An indigenous man was charged with physical violence and threats against his ex-partner (a non-indigenous woman), a violation of the Organic Law on the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence (the “statute”), which created special courts with exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases under the statute. The special court issued a restraining order in lieu of detention pending trial. Prosecutors appealed. While the appeal was pending, the man violated the restraining order. The court of appeals vacated the restraining order and ordered detention. On a constitutional appeal to the Supreme Court, the defendant argued that, because of his identity as an indigenous person, his community’s authorities had exclusive jurisdiction to hear the case. The Supreme Court acknowledged that (1) the Organic Law on Indigenous Peoples and Communities creates special jurisdiction authorizing indigenous communities to resolve controversies arising among their members within their lands, (2) this special jurisdiction allows the communities to apply their own laws, and (3) the national courts must recognize the decisions of the communities. But the Court also stressed that international conventions, the national constitution, and special laws (such as the statute) placed limitations on that jurisdiction. The Court cited, for example, Article 9 of the ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, which provides that “the methods customarily practiced by the peoples concerned for dealing with offenses committed by their members shall be respected,” but only “[t]o the extent compatible with the national legal system and internationally recognized human rights.” More precisely, the Court noted that the statute itself established that indigenous authorities could serve as agents for receiving complaints of violence against women, but only without prejudice to the victim’s right to seek remedy in the special courts. Based on that analysis, the Court held that the special courts have exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases under the statute, regardless of the defendant’s ethnic identify. Notably, the Court ordered that its holding be published as binding precedent.

平成19年(許)47 (2006 (Kyo) No. 47) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2007)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, International law

A Japanese married couple petitioned for a court order that a Japanese local government accept birth registers for twins born from a surrogate mother in Nevada with the ovum and sperm of the Japanese couple. The state of Nevada, pursuant to its state court, had issued birth certificates for the twins, which showed the Japanese couple as their parents. The Supreme Court reversed the High Court’s ruling that the birth registers need to be accepted. It stated that Article 118 of the Japanese Civil Proceedings Act prescribes that a final judgment made by a foreign court takes effect in Japan only if it satisfies all enumerated conditions, which include that “the foreign court’s ruling and its proceedings are not contrary to public policy in Japan.” The Supreme Court recalled that the Japanese Civil Code stands on the premise that a mother of a child is a woman who conceived and delivered the child and that a mother-child relationship is established through objective factors such as gestation and delivery. According to the Supreme Court, when a parent-child relationship can be legally established is a matter that forms the basis of the country’s legal order, and factors for finding such a relationship must be unequivocal. Thus, the Court found that a mother-child relationship between the twins and the Japanese wife could not be established, given that the Nevada court’s ruling, which recognized a parent-child relationship contrary to Japanese laws, ran against the public policy in Japan. In its statement, the Supreme Court urged the Japanese legislature to address the issues of parent-child relationships and assisted reproductive technology through legislation.


Barriya v. The Kadi of the Sharia Moslem Court Supreme Court of Israel (1955)

Gender discrimination

The aunt of three children applied to a Moslem Religious Court to be appointed as their guardian. The children’s mother argued that she was entitled to the guardianship under the Women’s Equal Rights Law. The mother, believing that the religious judge (the Kadi) would apply religious law and disregard the Women’s Equal Rights Law, applied for an order staying or setting aside the proceedings of the religious court. The court held that the issue was not ripe for review, as there was no indication that the Kadi would disregard civil law and rely only upon religious law. The order in which the Kadi decided to proceed was a matter of procedure with which the court would not interfere.