CASE OF DROBYSHEVSKIY AND VITT v. RUSSIA
(Applications nos. 52637/09 and 21973/10)
13 June 2017
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Drobyshevskiy and Vitt v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Luis López Guerra,
Jolien Schukking, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 23 May 2017,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in two applications (nos. 52637/09 and 21973/10) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by two Russian nationals. The applicants’ names and the dates of their applications to the Court appear in the Appendix.
2. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented initially by Mr G. Matyushkin, the Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Court of Human Rights, and then by his successor in that office, Mr M. Galperin.
3. On 30 August 2016 the complaints concerning quashing of the final judgments on the grounds of newly discovered circumstances were communicated to the Government and the remainder of the applications was declared inadmissible pursuant to Rule 54 § 3 of the Rules of Court.
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
4. All the applicants were parties to civil proceedings in which the first instance and appeal courts granted their claims against the welfare authorities to recalculate periodical payments for social benefits (i.e. monthly payments for compensation of damage, annual payments for food allowance and arrears of payments). These judgments became final but were subsequently quashed on the basis of newly discovered circumstances. The courts found that the interpretation of law given in the quashed judgments had been different from that of the Supreme Court and/or Constitutional Court of Russian Federation. All the judgments were fully enforced prior to their quashing (for more details see the Appendix).
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
5. The Code of Civil Procedure (“CCivP”), as in force at the material time, provided as follows:
Article 392. Grounds for re-consideration of final judgments
“[Judgments] which have come into force may be re-considered on the basis of newly-discovered circumstances. The grounds for re-consideration ... shall be:
1. significant circumstances which were not and could not have been known to the party who applies for re-consideration;
4. cancellation of a court [judgment] or of another authority’s decision which served as legal basis for the [judgment] in question.”
I. JOINDER OF THE APPLICATIONS
6. In accordance with Rule 42 § 1 of the Rules of the Court, the Court decides to consider the applications in a single judgment, given their similar factual and legal background (see Kazakevich and 9 other “Army Pensioners” cases v. Russia, nos. 14290/03 and 9 others, § 15, 14 January 2010).
II. THE GOVERNMENT’S REQUEST TO STRIKE OUT APPLICATIONS UNDER ARTICLE 37 OF THE CONVENTION
7. On 10 January 2017, after unsuccessful friendly-settlement negotiations, the Government submitted unilateral declarations with a view to resolving the issue raised by the applicants. They further requested the Court to strike out the applications, in accordance with Article 37 of the Convention.
8. In the declarations, the Government acknowledged that the quashing of the final judgments in the applicants’ favour and reopening of the proceedings had been in violation of Article 6 of the Convention. They stated their readiness to pay 1,050 euros each of the applicants.
9. The applicants did not accept the terms of the declarations arguing that the amounts proposed by the Government are less than those awarded by the Court in similar cases.
10. The Court observes, on the one hand, that the Government explicitly acknowledged a violation of the Convention on account of the quashing on the ground of newly discovered circumstances of the binding and enforceable judgments in the applicants’ favour.
11. On the other hand, the amount of compensation for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage proposed by the Government differs substantially from the amounts of compensation awarded to the applicants by the Court in virtually identical cases (see Botskalev and Rostovtseva and 42 other “Privileged pensioners” cases v. Russia, nos. 22666/08 and 42 others, § 23, 26 November 2009, and, most recent, Dolbin v. Russia [Committee], no. 18451/04, §§ 19-21, 19 April 2016).
12. The Court cannot therefore accept that the compensation offered by the Government in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage constitutes adequate and sufficient redress for the violations of the applicants’ rights under the Convention (see Botskalev and Rostovtseva and 42 other “Privileged pensioners” cases, cited above). It follows that the Government’s declaration, while acknowledging the violations of the Convention, fails to ensure respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and thus compels the Court to continue its examination of the applications.
13. That being so, the Court rejects the Government’s request to strike the application out under Article 37 of the Convention and will examine the admissibility and merits of the case.
III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 OF THE CONVENTION
14. The applicants complained about a violation of the principle of legal certainty on account of the quashing on the grounds of newly discovered circumstances of binding and enforceable judgments in their favour. They invoked Article 6 of the Convention, the relevant part of which reads as follows:
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal ...”
15. The Court notes that these complaints are not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that they are not inadmissible on any other grounds. They must therefore be declared admissible.
16. The Court observes that it has already found numerous violations of the Convention on account of the quashing of binding and enforceable judgments on the grounds of newly discovered circumstances under the Code of Civil Procedure, as in force at the material time (see Botskalev and Rostovtseva and 42 other “Privileged pensioners” cases, cited above, § 15, and most recent Dolbin, cited above, §§ 19-21). Some of those violations were found in similar circumstances and similarly concerned the quashing of final domestic judgments making awards (see, among many other authorities, Bulgakova v. Russia, no. 69524/01, §§ 45-48, 18 January 2007). The Court does not see any reasons to reach a different conclusion in the present cases.
17. Having examined all the material before it, as well as paying attention to the Government’s acknowledgement of a violation of the applicants’ rights, the Court concludes that there has been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention.
IV. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
18. Article 41 of the Convention provides:
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
19. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case-law (see, in particular, Botskalev and Rostovtseva and 42 other “Privileged pensioners” cases, cited above), the Court considers it reasonable to award each applicant the sums indicated in the Appendix.
20. The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,
1. Decides to join the applications;
2. Rejects the Government’s request to strike the applications out of the list;
3. Declares, in respect of all the applications, the complaints under Article 6 of the Convention concerning the quashing on the grounds of newly discovered circumstances of final domestic judgments in the applicants’ favour admissible;
4. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention on account of the quashing on the grounds of newly discovered circumstances of the final judgments in the applicants’ favour;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicants, within three months, the amounts indicated in the appended table, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 13 June 2017, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Fatoş Aracı Luis López Guerra
Deputy Registrar President
no. and date of introduction
Date of birth
Place of residence
Final domestic judgment
a) date of delivery
b) date of becoming final
Aleksandr Ivanovich DROBYSHEVSKIY
Prikubanskiy Distirict Court
Prikubanskiy Distirict Court
Viktor Fridrikhovich VITT
Crimea District Court
Krasnodar Regional Court