Involvement of the Courts in Uzbekistan
Romak quickly learned why the U.S. Department of State's Country Report on Human Rights Practice in Uzbekistan states: "The Constitution provides for an independent judicial authority; however, the judicial branch takes its direction from the executive branch and has little independence in practice."
The judicial branch of Uzbekistan first addressed the Romak matter in 1998 in an apparently choreographed case brought by Uzkhleboprodukt against Odil asking the Economic Court of Tashkent City to order Odil to pay Romak for the grain delivered to Uzkhleboprodukt. It is interesting to note that, even though the supposed rights and obligations of Romak figure prominently in arguments before the court, no input from Romak was ever sought and Romak, on its own, only learned of the existence of this case after the court's verdict had been issued. Not surprisingly, the conclusions of the court in its ruling of June 23rd, 1998 (Original Russian Version, English Translation) were remarkably similar to the arguments put forth by Uzbekistan and rejected by the GAFTA Arbitration Panel ten months earlier.
In subsequent years, various Uzbek Government officials repeatedly misinterpreted the country's obligations under the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards by claiming that Romak must seek enforcement of the GAFTA Arbitration Award in Uzbek courts. Primarily to preclude such disingenuous arguments, and with few illusions about the chances of receiving a fair trial in Uzbekistan, Romak launched just such an enforcement proceeding in 2000.
The ruling of the Tashkent Court on Romak's enforcement case of October 2, 2000 (Original Russian Version, English Translation) only served to demonstrate clearly the farcical nature of the Uzbek court system. Once again, the Uzbek Court's findings were in direct contradiction to those of both the GAFTA Arbitration Panel and the Queens High Court in London. Even more amazingly, the cornerstone of the Uzbek Court's refusal of enforcement was explained in the ruling as: "The submitted materials of the case contain a notarized copy of the award in English and Russian, However, there is no translation of these documents into the official language, i.e. Uzbek language is the official state language in the Republic of Uzbekistan." In other words, Romak's case for enforcement was rejected for having submitted documents in Russian as opposed to Uzbek. Incredibly, however, the court's ruling itself was issued in Russian and not Uzbek!
As a formality, Romak appealed the Uzbek court ruling. In response, the Uzbek court issued an Appeal Ruling on November 24, 2000 (Original Russian Version, English Translation). Once again, the findings of the Uzbek Court directly contradicted those of both the GAFTA Arbitration Panel and the Queen's High Court in London. Once again, Romak's case for enforcement was rejected on the basis of documents having been submitted in Russian as opposed to Uzbek. Once again, the Uzbek Court's ruling itself was in Russian and not Uzbek!
Apparently, the authors of the U.S. Department of State's Country Report on Human Rights Practice in Uzbekistan understand Uzbekistan's court system very well indeed when they state: "Uzbekistan is an authoritarian state . . . the executive branch heavily influences the courts in both civil and criminal cases."
U.S. Department of State's Country Report on Human Rights Practice in Uzbekistan
Tashkent Court Ruling of June 23, 1998 - Original Russian Version
Tashkent Court Ruling of June 23, 1998 - English Translation
GAFTA Arbitration Award
Tashkent Court Ruling of October 2, 2000 - Original Russian Version
Tashkent Court Ruling of October 2, 2000 - English Translation
Tashkent Court Ruling of November 24, 2000 - Original Russian Version
Tashkent Court Ruling of November 24, 2000 - English Translation