UKRAINE LEGAL UPDATE
16 July 2022
From 16 July 2022 all business websites in Ukraine must be in Ukrainian, and consumer appliances and computer programs are to feature Ukrainian interfaces. That is the date when the 2019 language law’s provisions on internet and consumer interface language use take effect.
The law requires, in particular, websites and social media pages of firms selling goods or services in Ukraine to run a Ukrainian language version as a default one, to be downloaded when the website or the social media page is first accessed (except for websites of certain news organizations allowed to publish in specified languages). The Ukrainian version of a website must also be the main one, meaning that it may not be less informative than a version, if any, in another language. Some exceptions may be available for English and EU countries’ languages.
A foreign firm doing business in Ukraine through a subsidiary, branch or representative office is further obligated to ensure that its Ukrainian website is easy to navigate for Ukrainian users and that makes its purpose clear (e.g., whether it is one selling goods or created for general information).
The same language requirements affect goods and services sold in Ukraine that feature mobile applications’ interfaces (screens through which people interact with the devices: smartphones, computers, any household appliance such as TV sets, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, as well as cars, etc.). Some kinds of specialized or industrial equipment, as well as IT development software, are exempt provided that their interface is in English.
Interfaces of compute programs (word processing, games, etc.) sold in Ukraine must be also in Ukrainian and/or in another authorized language (such as English). As in the case of websites, the Ukrainian version may not be less informative than that in another language.
Penalties for violations apply. Failure to comply with the language requirements is to be treated as a sale of a product of improper quality under the consumer protection law. An aggrieved purchaser may thus seek a replacement of the non-compliant product or damages. Apart from private remedies, the language law enforcement authorities may (in fact, must) impose administrative sanctions, such as monetary fines, if a breach is uncovered.
All foreign firms with sales or otherwise present in Ukraine are urged to update their websites, consumer interfaces and related practices to ensure compliance with the new language requirements.