FIRST SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 38139/05 
by Vladimir Maksimovich MAMONOV 
against Russia

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting on 2 March 2006 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr C.L. Rozakis, President
 Mrs S. Botoucharova
 Mr A. Kovler
 Mrs E. Steiner
 Mr K. Hajiyev
 Mr D. Spielmann, 
 Mr S.E. Jebens, judges,

and Mr  S. Quesada, Deputy Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 14 September 2005,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Mr Vladimir Maksimovich Mamonov, is a Russian national who was born in 1953 and lives in Kaliningrad.

The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.

The applicant is a retired military serviceman entitled to a pension allowance. He questioned the accuracy of the method employed for calculation of his pension.

On 14 September 2004 the applicant brought a civil action against his former employer, a local commissariat of the Ministry of Defence of Russia, claiming recalculation of his pension from 1 January 2000. He insisted on employing a particular method of recalculation.

On 17 November 2004 the Leningradskiy District Court of Kaliningrad granted his claims in part and ordered the recalculation of the pension for the period between 1 January 2000 and 1 December 2000. In particular, the court ordered an increase in the amount due and the payment of the arrears. The method employed for the recalculation differed from the one sought by the applicant, which provided for a more significant increase.

On 23 December 2004 the applicant appealed against the judgment claiming that the first-instance court had wrongfully applied domestic law.

On 30 March 2005 the Kaliningrad Regional Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the first-instance judgment in full.

COMPLAINTS

1.  The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the domestic courts had erred in the application of national law. He further complained that the domestic courts had not included the Ministry of Defence as a defendant in breach of the principle of equality of arms.

2.  The applicant complained furthermore, under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention, that his pension had not been calculated according to the method of his choosing.

THE LAW

1.  The applicant alleges a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which, insofar as relevant, provides:

“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing ... by [a] ... tribunal...”

In particular, the applicant submits that the domestic courts wrongfully applied domestic law and failed to ensure participation in the proceedings of the Ministry of Defence, in breach of the principle of equality of arms.

The Court observes that a part of the complaint under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention essentially amount to objecting to the application of domestic law.

In this respect the Court recalls that, according to Article 19 of the Convention, its duty is to ensure the observance of the engagements undertaken by the States Parties to the Convention. In particular, it is not its function to deal with errors of fact or law allegedly committed by a national court, unless and in so far as they may have infringed rights and freedoms protected by the Convention (see, for example, García Ruiz v. Spain [GC], no. 30544/96, § 28, ECHR 1999-I). In the proceedings at issue the domestic courts at two levels of jurisdiction carefully examined the materials in their possession and reached reasoned conclusions as to the merits of the applicant’s claim. Throughout the proceedings the applicant was fully able to state his case and support it by referring to relevant provisions of domestic laws.

The Court has found no elements in these proceedings which disclose any appearances of a violation of Article 6 of the Convention.

Further, turning to the alleged breach of the principle equality of arms, the Court notes that the applicant did not raise this particular issue before the domestic courts. However, even assuming that the applicant did exhaust relevant domestic remedies in this regard, the Court reiterates that under the principle of equality of arms, as one of the features of the wider concept of a fair trial, each party must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to present its case under conditions that do not place it at a disadvantage vis-à-vis its opponent (see Dombo Beheer B.V. v. the Netherlands, judgment of 27 October 1993, Series A no. 274, p. 19, § 33).

The Court observes that, when instituting the civil proceedings at issue, the applicant himself indicated the local commissariat as a defendant party. During the trial, the applicant could present his arguments under the same conditions as the defendant. Moreover, the applicant did not request the domestic authorities at any stage of the proceedings to bring to court the Ministry of Defence as the second defendant. The Court considers that the principle of equality of arms cannot be interpreted as widely as to require the domestic courts to ensure on their own motion, in the absence of the plaintiff’s request, participation of a second defendant in civil proceedings.

It follows that this part of the application is inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 1 of the Convention and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.

2.  The applicant further alleges a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 caused by the domestic authorities’ failure to employ a particular method of calculation of his pension. Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention provides as follows:

“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.

The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.”

The Court recalls that the rights stemming from the paying contributions to social insurance systems are pecuniary rights for the purposes of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention (see Gaygusuz v. Austria, judgment of 16 September 1996, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1996-IV, p. 1142, §§ 39-41). However, if Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 guarantees benefits to persons who have contributed to a social insurance system (see Stec and Others v. the United Kingdom [GC] (dec.), nos. 65731/01 and 65900/01, ECHR 2005-...), it cannot be interpreted as entitling that person to a pension of a particular amount (see no. 5849/72, Müller v. Austria, Comm. Report. 1.10.1975, D.R. 3, p. 25 and Stawicki v. Poland (dec.), no. 47711/99, 10 February 2000). Consequently, the Court considers that Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 does not guarantee a right to choose a particular method of calculation of a pension.

It follows that this aspect of the application is incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Declares the application inadmissible.

Santiago Quesada Christos Rozakis 
  Deputy Registrar President

MAMONOV v. RUSSIA DECISION


MAMONOV v. RUSSIA DECISION