Lawyer in you (Tips 26-30)
Tip 26: Lost documents
It is very, very useful to have copies of passports and other important documents, and even better - scanned copies stored in a safe place in digital form. Especially in the case of travel abroad.
If the document was lost/stolen, you should without delay submit a corresponding application to the Department of Ministry of Internal Affairs, register it and find out its registration number. Why without delay? If your document was used without your knowledge (and it can be used so quickly), a certificate on document‘s loss would become substantial protection from claims regarding the misuse of the lost document.
Next, you need to contact the authority where the lost document has been issued. The procedure for issuing a new document differs depending on the document’s type.
If you lose foreign passport outside of Ukraine, you need to contact local police and then the diplomatic mission of Ukraine with a copy of the lost passport and two passport photos. A copy of national passport may also be required.
Since recently the loss of a driver's license doesn’t mean new exam on knowledge of traffic rules: it is enough to show your passport, medical certificate and a document on training in a driving school (driving record).
Take care of your documents! Even if they just wear out, you shall have to change them.
Tip 27: Who owns found thing
People in Ukraine often believe "what's lost is lost." Let’s not talk about morality; let’s talk about the legal side of the issue.
Few people know that there is an obligation to report about a found thing and an obligation to return this thing. Unknown owner? The law obliges to address the police or local authority (hereinafter - LA). In transport the thing can be passed to the driver, and in premises - to the premises’ owner (lessee).
Found thing, other than a vehicle, can be kept by a finder or given for storage to police or LA. You can even sell the thing with a short shelf life, or if the cost of storing it is too high compared to the thing’s value. But the corresponding amount received shall be given to the thing’s owner, at that the sum should be confirmed in writing. Person, who stores a found thing is liable for any loss or damage of it in case such loss or damage was intentional or due to gross negligence.
It is possible to become a legal owner of a found thing, but only after 6 months from the date of report on the discovery to the police or LA, unless the owner wasn’t found.
Person can write a refusal from a found thing to LA, and the found thing becomes property of the territorial community.
Finder is entitled to recover costs of found thing’s storage, search for its owner, etc. from the owner of the thing (or the one who reives propery rights for the thing). Moreover, the finder has the legal right to claim up to 20% of the thing’s cost for its discovery, but only if the finder informed about the thing, and didn’t try to hide it.
Finally for pet lovers: if you've found a lost dog or cat, you should report to the police or LA in 3 days! One can become a legal owner of the animal only in 2 months after the announcement of such a discovery, and only if the owner wasn’t found.
See the Civil Code Of Ukraine, Art. 337-342 http://zakon2.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/435-15
Tip 28: "Civil marriage" and inheritance
Many believe that couples living together without registering a marriage have almost the same rights as in officially registered marriage. But if the property acquired by them at the time of cohabitation may be considered as their shared ownership (unless otherwise agreed in a written contract between them), inheritance matters differ.
The difference is that if the couple did not register their marriage they can inherit after each other only if there are no heirs of 1,2 and 3rd levels of priority (children, parents, legal spouse, siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts). And that is only if the couple lived as a family for at least 5 years. The exception to the rule (the case of long-term care for the helpless) is described in Art. 1259 of the Civil Code of Ukraine.
Therefore, sad cases may happen when even after 20 years of living as one family and caring for each other, not the spouse, but the testator's brother or grandson (who had no contact with him for 20 years) shall inherit everything. In practice, this can result in eviction from the apartment or house where a person lived for a long time and considered home.
To change this situation it is not obligatory to register a marriage, one can also make a will.
The Family Code of Ukraine: http://zakon.rada.gov.ua/go/2947-14
The Civil Code of Ukraine: http://zakon1.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/435-15
Tip 29: Who will pay property tax in 2013
From 1 January 2013 owners of houses and apartments were required to pay property tax. But in the middle of the year tax was cancelled for 2013, and 2014 was announced as starting point for payments.
Who shall pay, how much and when?
Do not worry if you own only one apartment of less than 120 square meters or house of ??less than 250 square meters - in this case the Tax Code (Section 265.4.1.) releases from the tax. The tax applies only to residential premises and only to square metres exceeding the above stated parameters (for example, in a house of 255 sq m tax shall be applied only to 5 sq m). One garden cottage or house is not taxed. Large families are exempt from paying for the property of any size, but only for one house or apartment.
If a person owns a house and an apartment, or several apartments, etc., tax shall be applied to all of them except one (even if they are very small!); and the owner deсides for which one to pay. Thus, it is better (in terms of taxation) to own one apartment of 120 sq m that to own several small apartments.
If two people own living premises and a part of each is defined, owners pay for their parts. In joint ownership with undetermined parts one of the owners pays upon the consent of all. An apartment of 200 sq m with several owners may be released from the tax.
How much to pay? The maximum rates are determined by the Tax Code: 1% of the minimum wage determined on 1 January of the current year for 1 sq m (UAH 11.47 in 2013). But if the apartment is more than 240 sq m, and the house is more than 500 sq m, 1% "changes" to 2.7% (UAH 30.97). Local governments can reduce the rate, but usually it is maximal. For example, in Kiev, the tax for 50 sq m of living space (if it is not subject to exemptions) shall be UAH 573.5 (for 2013).
"Chain letters" (decision notice) from tax authorities should be expected in the period from 15 April to 1 July, and the payment shall be done within 60 days after receipt of such letter. In case of disagreement with the tax amount, person can contact tax authorities. But it is not recommended to delay payments: for delay of payment for 30 days or less the penalty of 10% of the unpaid amount is levied and for a delay for more than 30 days - 20%.
See Art. 265 of the Tax Code, http://zakon1.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/2755-17
Tip 30: Beware - the guard
On 18 October 2012 the Law of Ukraine "On Security Activity" established rules on security activity and allowed employees of private security firms to carry traumatic guns, truncheons, handcuffs, gas cans, etc.
What is necessary to know to reduce the risk of unpleasant dialogue with security, and what knowledge can be useful?
First, keep in mind that the law is fairly new, and there is no extensive practice in applying it. Thus, misunderstandings on both sides are possible. No need to brave it out, threaten or physically resist (unless you want security facilities to be used against you), composure is your best protection. If you can confidently but not aggressively explain that you violated no rules and what the guard violates, and, if necessary, specify the consequences for the guard (his company, the store), then you have a better chance of avoiding trouble.
If the guard is persistent, but apparently not tactful or very intelligent, request the presence of an administrator (manager, chief) and repeat about the breach of your rights (protection of consumer rights, property responsibility for moral and material damage). By the way, do not believe everything you hear from the stuff: they may not know all the rules, may mistake or be deliberately misleading. If you are not sure - check the internet (ask friends on the phone.) If the request of a guard/employee went beyond their powers, but is no problem for you to fulfil it, sometimes it is better to fulfil the request instead of wasting your time and nerves.
If a guard’s actions become alarming - ask to call the police or call it yourself (depending on the situation). It is better to find witnesses of a violation for the call not to be considered false alarm. Ask the witnesses to leave their contact details. Record all the violations (damages).
It is important to remember that:
• Security agency has no right to set penalties,
• Payment of damages is legal only upon the consent of a buyer or after the court decision,
• Guards may inspect your belongings only upon your consent,
• Guards have the right to detain you, but only with the immediate notification of the police,
• You are not obliged to follow the guards (for example, in isolated areas); if the guard thinks that you have committed an offense, he should call the police, and can only prevent you leaving the territory of the protected object’
• Security activity is prohibited without a license, which means that if the firm does not have a license, its employees are NOT security guards and not allowed to use weapons, and have no more rights to detain you than any person (in case of a crime, otherwise it is illegal imprisonment,
• There is a list of weapons that guards may have: http://search.ligazakon.ua/l_doc2.nsf/link1/KP130097.html;
• Use of such weapons is allowed only if other measures do not stop violations or do not lead to fulfilment of quards’ legal requirements; guard should inform the police about the use of physical force or weapons,
• There are only 2 cases when weapons may be used without warning (by voice and gestures): (a) a sudden attack, and (b) an attack or resistance with weapons or objects that pose a threat to life or health, or with motor vehicles.
Violations of guards may result in administrative, criminal and financial liability; a risk of license revocation of a security company can also be mentioned.
It is also useful to remember that:
• Guards are fully responsible for theirs actions, and security company is responsible for the actions of their employees,
• In places of significant concentration of people, guards may use weapons only for self-defense and only if it does not harm others;
• Dogs may be used only to identify persons illegally present on the objects of protection;
• Guards should have special certificates (with photo and stamp of security organization); guard’s uniform should have decals of their security organization,
• Other requirements to guards include age requirement (18 years and older), requirement to live at the place of registration, to have an employment contract with a security firm etc.; security company is responsible for guards’ failure to comply with those requirements,
• In case of damages guards should immediately call an ambulance and provide all possible medical care.
However, in Ukrainian realities of law enforcement and other government agencies’ activities, it is hard to expect that knowledge of legislation guarantees 100% protection against violations. For example, one who is refusing to show the contents of the package at the request of the guard/supermarket employee must be ready not only to defend their rights, but also to illegal actions of those persons.
It is important to report to the police on serious violations, one can also contact local authorities, consumer protection bodies, and in cases of significant damages - file a lawsuit in court.
See the Law of Ukraine "On the security activity": http://zakon2.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/4616-17