CASE OF BABYNIN v. RUSSIA
(Application no. 12239/03)
25 July 2017
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Babynin 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 4 July 2017,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 12239/03) 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 a Russian national, Mr Grigoriy Aleksandrovich Babynin (“the applicant”), on 21 March 2003.
2. The Russian Government ("the Government") were represented initially by Mr P. Laptev, 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 22 June 2006 the application was communicated to the Government.
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
4. The applicant was born in 1956 and lives in Staryy Oskol.
5. The applicant took part in the cleaning up operation at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site.
6. On 5 July 2002 the Staryy Oskol Town Court of the Belgorod Region granted the applicant’s action against the Belgorod Regional Administration and awarded him and his family, comprising two members, a flat in the town of Staryy Oskol and 3,000 Russian roubles (approximately 100 euros) in compensation for non-pecuniary damage. The representative of the Regional Administration did not attend the hearing: in writing he had requested the Town Court to adjudicate the case in his absence.
7. The judgment was not appealed against and became final on 15 July 2002.
8. On 19 August 2002 the Staryy Oskol Town Court issued a writ of execution and enforcement proceedings were instituted.
9. On 9 October 2002 the Belgorod Regional Administration lodged a statement of appeal against the judgment of 5 July 2002. The Administration also asked the Town Court to restore the ten-day time-limit for lodging the appeal. The Administration claimed that it had received a copy of the judgment of 5 July 2002 by fax on 8 October 2002. The Administration asked to stop the enforcement proceedings.
10. The applicant insisted that there had been no reason to restore the time-limit. He noted that a copy of the judgment had been forwarded to the Regional Administration at the end of July 2002.
11. On 14 October 2002 the Staryy Oskol Town Court restored the time-limit for lodging the appeal, accepted the Administration’s statement of appeal and stopped the enforcement proceedings.
12. On 19 November 2002 the Belgorod Regional Court examined the Administration’s appeal, quashed the judgment of 5 July 2002 and remitted the case for a fresh examination to the Town Court.
13. On 20 January 2003 the Staryy Oskol Town Court, in the new examination of the case, accepted the applicant’s action in part. The relevant part of the judgment read as follows:
“Order that the Belgorod Regional Administration should provide ... Mr Babynin G.A. and his family with housing premises, which satisfy sanitary and technical requirements, in their turn according to the housing waiting list of families having persons with disabilities and individuals who had taken part in the cleaning operation at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
Dismiss [the claim] for compensation for non-pecuniary damage.”
14. The judgment was not appealed against and became final on 31 January 2003.
15. On 13 February 2003 a writ of execution was issued and enforcement proceedings were instituted.
16. According to the applicant, from 5 to 12 March 2004 a group of five people, including the applicant, began a hunger strike to protest against the poor level of welfare protection provided for the Chernobyl victims.
17. On 16 April 2004 the mayor of Staryy Oskol decided to provide the applicant with a flat measuring 55,05 m².
18. On 21 April 2004 the applicant received from the mayor an occupancy voucher in respect of the flat assigned to him. He found the flat satisfactory.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
19. The relevant domestic law is summed up in the Court’s judgment in the case of Malinovskiy v. Russia (no. 41302/02, §§ 18-26, ECHR 2005-VII).
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 OF THE CONVENTION AND ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL No. 1 TO THE CONVENTION
20. The applicant complained that the prolonged non-enforcement of the judgment of 5 July 2002, as amended on 20 January 2003, violated his “right to a court” under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention and his right to the peaceful enjoyment of possessions as guaranteed in Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention. These Articles, in so far as relevant, provide as follows:
Article 6 § 1
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing ... by [a] ... tribunal ...”
Article 1 of Protocol No. 1
“Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law ...”
21. The Court notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
22. The Court observes that it has already found a violation of Article 6 of the Convention and article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention in the case with identical facts (see Malinovskiy, cited above, §§ 39-40 and §§ 47-48). The Court does not see any reason to reach a different conclusion in the present case.
23. Having examined all the material before it the Court concludes that there has been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No.1 to the Convention.
II. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF ARTICLE 6 AND ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL No. 1 TO THE CONVENTION
24. The applicant also complained about extension of the time-limit for appeal and subsequent quashing of the final judgment in his favour.
25. Having regard to the facts of this case, the submissions of the parties and its findings under Article 6 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No 1 to the Convention, the Court considers that it has examined the main legal question, that is the non-enforcement of the judgment, raised in the present application and that there is no need to give a separate ruling neither on the admissibility nor on the merits of these additional complaints (see Centre for Legal Resources on behalf of Valentin Câmpeanu v. Romania [GC], no. 47848/08, § 156, ECHR 2014, with further references, and most recent Miroshnikov and Others, cited above, §§ 17-18).
III. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONVENTION
26. Lastly, the applicant complained under Articles 6 of other different violations of the Convention such as outcome of proceedings.
27. In the light of all the material in its possession, and in so far as the matters complained of are within its competence, the Court finds that these complaints do not disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention or its Protocols. It follows that they are manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
IV. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
28. 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.”
29. The applicant claimed 50,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
30. The Government considered these claims as being unsubstantiated.
31. The Court considers that the applicant must have suffered certain distress and frustration resulting from the State authorities’ failure to enforce a judgment in his favour. However, the amount claimed appears excessive. The Court takes into account the award made by the Court in the Malinovskiy case (cited above, § 52), the nature of the award whose non-enforcement was at stake in the present case (namely a benefit linked to the applicant’s disability arising from the incident at Chernobyl), the length of the enforcement proceedings and other relevant aspects. Making its assessment on an equitable basis, it awards the applicant EUR 4,200 in respect of non-pecuniary damage, plus any tax that may be chargeable on that amount.
B. Costs and expenses
32. The applicant submitted no claims in respect of costs and expenses. The Court thus makes no award in this regard.
C. Default interest
33. 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. Declares the complaints concerning non-enforcement of the judgment in the applicant’s favour, extension of the time-limits for appeal and the subsequent quashing of the final judgment in the applicant’s favour admissible and the remainder of the application inadmissible;
2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention on account of the non-enforcement of the judgment in the applicant’s favour;
3. Holds that there is no need to examine separately the complaints under Article 6 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention about the extension of time-limit for appeal and subsequent quashing of the final judgment in the applicant’s favour;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months EUR 4,200 (four thousand two hundred euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage, 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 amount at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
5. Dismisses the remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 25 July 2017, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Fatoş Aracı Luis López Guerra
Deputy Registrar President