CASE OF VOROBYEVA AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA
(Application no. 65969/11)
3 October 2017
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Vorobyeva and Others 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 12 September 2017,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 65969/11) 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 five Russian nationals. The applicants’ personal details and the date of their application 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 21 September 2016 the complaint concerning quashing of the final judgment on the grounds of newly discovered circumstances was communicated to the Government and the remainder of the application was declared inadmissible pursuant to Rule 54 § 3 of the Rules of Court.
4. The Government objected to the examination of the application by a Committee. After having considered the Government’s objection, the Court rejects it.
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
5. The applicants lived in a dormitory in Lipetsk, Russia. The dormitory was mainly inhabited by the students and the staff of the Lipetsk Metallurgy College (“the College”).
6. In 2000 the joint-stock company “NLMK” (“the Company”) registered its title over that dormitory as a result of privatisation.
7. The applicants brought a case against the Company seeking to obtain a title to the rooms they lived in. They argued in particular that the privatisation of the dormitory had taken place in violation of the legislation and that the Company could not be declared as a sole owner of the property. The Lipetsk Metallurgy College was also involved into the case as a third party.
8. On 19 April 2010 the Oktyabrskiy District Court of Lipetsk found for the applicants and granted their claims. The District Court found that the dormitory was transferred to the Company in breach of domestic law.
9. On 2 June 2010 the appeal court upheld the judgment and it became final.
10. In August 2010 the applicants registered their title to the dormitory rooms and subsequently sold them to third parties.
11. On 12 April 2011 the Company lodged a request with the Oktyabrskiy District Court of Lipetsk seeking to reopen the proceedings on the grounds of newly discovered circumstances. It relied on the order of the College’s director and a lease agreement concluded in 2008 between the Company and the College in respect of the dormitory. The Company further argued that it had not been aware of those documents since they were possessed by the College.
12. On 12 May 2011 the Oktyabrskiy District Court of Lipetsk quashed the judgment of 19 April 2010. The court found in particular that the documents presented by the Company might have had significant impact on the outcome of the case and thus they constituted “newly discovered circumstances”.
13. On 31 August 2011 as a result of the fresh consideration of the case the Oktyabrskiy District Court of Lipetsk rejected the applicants’ claims and ordered reversal of execution of the judgment of 19 April 2010. This judgment was upheld on 26 October 2011 by the Lipetsk Regional Court.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
14. 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.”
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 OF THE CONVENTION
15. 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 judgment in their favour. They invoked Article 6 of the Convention, relevant part of which reads as follows:
Article 6 § 1
“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 ...”
16. 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.
17. The Government submitted that the reopening of the proceedings were in accordance with the domestic law. They further argued that the documents submitted by the Company had existed prior to delivery of the judgment of 19 April 2010 but had not been known to the party of the case. They thus constituted newly discovered circumstances.
18. The applicants maintained their claims.
19. 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 (see Pravednaya v. Russia, no. 69529/01, §§ 27-42, 18 November 2004; Botskalev and Rostovtseva and 42 other “Privileged pensioners” cases v. Russia, nos. 22666/08 and 42 others, § 15, 26 November 2009; and most recent Dolbin v. Russia [Committee], no. 18451/04, §§ 19-21, 19 April 2016). The Court does not see any reasons to reach a different conclusion in the present case.
20. Turning to the case at hand the Court notes that it is not convinced by the Government’s submissions that the Company, as well as the College, could have not been aware about the order of the College’s director and the lease agreement they had concluded. The Court considers that both the Company and the College, which was a third party in the case, were able to submit the above mentioned documents during the first set of proceedings but failed to do so. In these circumstances, the Company’s request of 12 April 2011 to re-open the case due to the discovery of the new circumstances was in essence an attempt to re-argue the case on points which it could have, but apparently failed, to raise during the first set of proceedings.
21. Having examined all the material before it the Court concludes that there has been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention.
II. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
22. 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.”
23. The applicants submitted claims in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage ranging from 1,578 euros (EUR) to EUR 15,000.
24. The Government considered these claims as being unsubstantiated.
25. 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.
B. Costs and expenses
26. Ms Vorobyeva and Ms Kondrashina claimed different sums for costs and expenses ranging from EUR 905 to EUR 4,515.
27. The Government contested fully or partially the amounts claimed as being excessive and/or unsubstantiated.
28. Regard being had to the documents in its possession the Court decides to reject their claims.
C. Default interest
29. 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 in respect of all the applicants, the complaints under Article 6 of the Convention concerning the quashing on the grounds of newly discovered circumstances of final domestic judgment in the applicants’ favour admissible;
2. 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 judgment 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.
4. Dismisses the remainder of the applicants’ claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 3 October 2017, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Fatoş Aracı Luis López Guerra
Deputy Registrar President
Application no. and date of introduction
Date of birth
Place of residence
Marina Ivanovna VOROBYEVA
Svetlana Vladimirovna KONDRASHINA
Georgiy Sergeyevich KORSAKOV
Daniil Vladimirovich KONDRASHIN
Svyatoslav Vladimirovich KONDRASHIN