FIRST SECTION

CASE OF CHERNYSHOV AND 11 OTHERS v. RUSSIA

(Application no. 10415/02)

JUDGMENT

STRASBOURG

28 September 2006

FINAL

28/12/2006

This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision. 

In the case of Chernyshov and 11 Others v. Russia,

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:

Mr C.L. Rozakis, President, 
 Mr L. Loucaides, 
 Mrs F. Tulkens, 
 Mrs N. Vajić, 
 Mr A. Kovler, 
 Mr D. Spielmann, 
 Mr S.E. Jebens, judges, 
and Mr S. Nielsen, Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 7 September 2006,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:

PROCEDURE

1.  The case originated in an application (no. 10415/02) 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 twelve Russian nationals, whose names are listed in the schedule, on 25 January 2002.

2.  The applicants were represented by Ms S. Poznakhirina, a lawyer practising in Novovoronezh. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr P. Laptev, the Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.

3.  On 1 March 2005 the Court decided to communicate the application to the Government. Under the provisions of Article 29 § 3 of the Convention, it decided to examine the merits of the application at the same time as its admissibility.

THE FACTS

THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE

4.  The applicants, whose names are listed in the schedule, are Russian nationals who live in the town of Novovoronezh in the Voronezh Region.

5.  In 2000-2001 the applicants sued the Novovoronezh Town Social Security Service (hereafter – the Service) for pension arrears.

6.  On the dates set out in the schedule the applicants obtained final and enforceable judgments. The Service was to pay them certain amounts.

7.  Enforcement proceedings were opened but the judgments remain unenforced to date.

THE LAW

I.  ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 OF THE CONVENTION AND ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL NO. 1

8.  The applicants complained that the judgments in their favour remained unenforced. The Court considers that this complaint falls to be examined under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (see Burdov v. Russia, no. 59498/00, § 26, ECHR 2002-III). The relevant parts of these provisions read as follows:

Article 6 § 1

“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing within a reasonable time... 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...”

A.  Admissibility

9.  The Court notes that the application is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.

B.  Merits

10.  The Government argued that the Service lacked necessary funds for execution of the judgments in the applicants' favour. Certain budgetary arrangements had to be made with the view to executing the judgments.

11.  The applicants maintained their claims.

12.  The Court observes that on the dates listed in the schedule the applicants obtained enforceable judgments by which the Service, a State body, was to pay them certain sums. The judgments have not been enforced yet. They thus remain unenforced for several years.

13.  The Court has frequently found violations of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in cases raising issues similar to the ones in the present case (see Burdov v. Russia, no. 59498/00, § 19 et seq., ECHR 2002-III; Gizzatova v. Russia, no. 5124/03, § 19 et seq., 13 January 2005; Gerasimova v. Russia, no. 24669/02, § 17 et seq., 13 October 2005).

14.  Having examined the materials submitted to it, the Court notes that the Government have not put forward any fact or argument capable of justifying the delay in enforcement of the judgments. The judgments remain unenforced because the debtor does not have financial recourses. However, the Court reiterates that it is not open to a State authority to cite the lack of funds, as an excuse for not honouring a judgment debt (see Plotnikovy v. Russia, no. 43883/02, § 23, 24 February 2005). The same principle applies to difficulties experienced by the State enforcement services and the complexity of the budgetary arrangements between State bodies (see, for example, Wasserman v. Russia, no. 15021/02, § 38, 18 November 2004).

15.  The Court finds that by failing for years to comply with the enforceable judgments in the applicants' favour the domestic authorities impaired the essence of their right to a court and prevented them from receiving the money they had legitimately expected to receive.

16.  There has accordingly been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.

II.  APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

17.  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.”

18.  The applicants did not submit their claims for just satisfaction.

19.  The Court, however, notes that the State's outstanding obligation to enforce the judgments in the applicants' favour is not in dispute. Accordingly, the applicants are still entitled to recover the principal amounts of the judgment debts in the domestic proceedings. The Court recalls that the most appropriate form of redress in respect of a violation of Article 6 is to ensure that the applicant as far as possible is put in the position he would have been had the requirements of Article 6 not been disregarded (see Piersack v. Belgium (Article 50), judgment of 26 October 1984, Series A no. 85, p. 16, § 12, and, mutatis mutandis, Gençel v. Turkey, no. 53431/99, § 27, 23 October 2003). The Court finds that in the present case this principle applies as well, having regard to the violations found (cf Poznakhirina v. Russia, no. 25964/02, § 33, 24 February 2005). It therefore considers that the Government shall secure, by appropriate means, the enforcement of the awards made by the domestic courts in the applicants' favour.

20.  The Court considers that there is no call to award the applicants any other sums.

FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY

1.  Declares the application admissible;

2.  Holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1;

3.  Holds

(a)  that the respondent State, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final according to Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, shall secure, by appropriate means, the enforcement of the awards made by the domestic court in the applicants' favour;

(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 28 September 2006, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.

Søren Nielsen Christos Rozakis 
 Registrar President

 

SCHEDULE

NAME OF THE APPLICANT

YEAR OF BIRTH

DATE OF THE JUDGMENT

AMOUNT AWARDED (RUR)

Ivan Ivanovich Chernyshov

1938

4 September 2000

2,697.55

Antonina Savelyevna Bykova

1948

4 September 2000

1,327.86

Lyubov Ivanovna Chernyshova

1947

21 August 2000

2,869.23

Anastasiya Mikhaylovna Seleznyeva

1936

29 September 2000

2,444.35

Matryena Fyedorovna Polupanova

1908

27 October 2000

2.304,07

Antonina Konstantinovna Nekislykh

1941

26 October 2000

2,091.09

Petr Martynovich Nekislykh

1939

26 October 2000

2,872.95

Anna Yegorovna Shamina

1918

3 October 2000

2,796.96

Ivan Grigoryevich Chernushkin

1926

3 October 2000

3,301.3

Raisa Nikolayevna Chernushkina

1939

3 October 2000

2,471.87

Tamara Alekseyevna Drobysheva

1939

12 January 2001

1,171.5

Yevdokiya Ivanovna Guryeva

1942

4 January 2001

10,743.92


CHERNYSHOV AND 11 OTHERS v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT


CHERNYSHOV AND 11 OTHERS v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT