Ukraine's Land Code has been amended to extend the right to own land to Ukrainian-foreign joint ventures. The law, On Amendments to Article 82 of the Land Code of Ukraine, passed on July 10 2003, has on the whole improved the position of Ukrainian companies with foreign investment in respect of land rights. Article 82 of the Code has been reworded so as to extend the right to purchase, sell, hold title to and exercise proprietary rights over non-agricultural land in Ukraine to joint ventures founded in part by foreign legal entities or individuals. Before these amendments, such entities were not permitted to acquire or own non-agricultural land in Ukraine.
While the amendments without question improve the legislative framework governing the acquisition of land by foreigners, the revised Article 82 has some shortcomings. Close scrutiny of the new wording reveals a number of inconsistencies in the treatment of foreign companies and individuals.
The amendments limit the types of entities that may acquire and enjoy proprietary rights to land through joint ventures with foreign investment. The law defines such joint ventures as business entities in which both Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian residents hold a stake. According to this definition, wholly foreign-owned companies fall outside Article 82's scope. Further analysis reveals additional ambiguities that similarly limit the effectiveness of the amendments. While on the surface Article 82 represents a progressive development for foreign ownership of land in Ukraine, further changes that are more wide-reaching in scope are necessary in order to fully eliminate restrictions on opportunities for foreign companies and individuals to acquire land.