THIRD SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 65167/01 
by Galina Ilyinichna PRONINA 
against Russia

The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 30 June 2005 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr B.M. Zupančič, President
 Mr L. Caflisch
 Mr C. Bîrsan
 Mrs M. Tsatsa-Nikolovska
 Mr A. Kovler
 Mr V. Zagrebelsky, 
 Mrs A. Gyulumyan, judges
and Mr V. Berger, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 17 November 2000,

Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Ms Galina Ilyinichna Pronina, is a Russian national, who was born in 1927 and lives in Tenginka, a village in the Krasnodar Region. The President of the Chamber has granted the applicant leave to present her own case. The respondent Government are represented by Mr P.A. Laptev, the Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.

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

The applicant had an interest-bearing account in the Savings Bank. In October 1997, she brought a civil action against the bank because she considered that it had arbitrarily decreased the interest rate.

On 5 November 1997, the Tuapsinskiy District Court held against the applicant. On 29 January 1998, the Krasnodar Regional Court quashed this judgment on appeal and remitted the case for a re-examination.

Having re-examined the case, on 14 May 1998 the district court partly held for the applicant. On 6 August 1998, the regional court upheld this judgment on appeal. On 26 November 1998, the district court reopened the case due to discovery of new evidence and remitted the case for a re-examination.

Having re-examined the case, on 9 April 1999 the district court, composed of one professional and two lay judges, partly held for the applicant. On 27 May 1999, the regional court upheld this judgment on appeal.

On an unspecified date, the Public Prosecutor of the Krasnodar Region applied for supervisory review of the judgments of 9 April and 27 May 1999. He asked to quash the judgments because of errors of fact and law. On 2 June 2000, the Presidium of the Krasnodar Regional Court quashed the judgments and remitted the case for a re-examination.

Having re-examined the case, on 19 April 2001 the district court held against the applicant. On 10 July 2001, the regional court upheld this judgment on appeal.

COMPLAINTS

1.  The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the proceedings had lasted too long.

2.  The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the proceedings before the presidium had been unfair. The public prosecutor, who acted on behalf of the bank, attended the presidium's deliberations and hence could in*uence its conclusions.

3.  The applicant complained under Article 1 of the Convention that the State had failed to resolve her dispute with the bank fairly.

4.  The applicant complained under Article 8 § 1 of the Convention and under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that the domestic courts had misinterpreted her contract with the bank.

5.  The applicant complained under Article 13 of the Convention that the presidium had disregarded the laws which could prove her claims effectively.

6.  The applicant complained under Articles 17 and 18 of the Convention that the presidium had breached her rights guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention and by Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.

7.  The applicant complained under Articles 6 and 13 of the Convention, and under Articles 2 and 3 of Protocol no. 7 that no appeal lay against the decisions of 26 November 1998 and 2 June 2000.

8.  The applicant complained that the court that gave the judgment of 19 April 2001 had been composed unlawfully. Whilst the law permitted lay judges to sit during 14 days within a year, the lay judges who heard her case sat during 24 days within the year.

9.  The applicant complained that the proceedings before the district court on 19 April 2001 had been unfair, and that the court had misinterpreted the evidence before it.

THE LAW

1.  The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the time it took the domestic courts to examine her case. Article 6 § 1, as far as relevant, reads as follows:

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

The Government argued that the complaint was manifestly ill-founded. The proceedings lasted relatively long because in 1997–2001 civil and bank law changed much, and the courts had to adapt their judgments to the changes. Furthermore, the judgments of 9 April and 27 May 1999 were incorrect, and the presidium had good reason to quash them. Hence, the delay caused by the supervisory-review proceedings was justified.

The applicant insisted that the proceedings had lasted unreasonably long. The case was relatively simple. Under domestic law, a case was to be examined within two months. The applicant, an aged person of frail health, could not wait.

The Court repeats that whether the length of proceedings is reasonable, must be assessed in each case individually. In particular, the Court must assess how complex were the facts or legal issues of the case, how the parties behaved, and what was at stake for the parties (see Frydlender v. France [GC], no. 30979/96, § 43, ECHR 2000-VII).

The applicant's litigation spanned 3 years, 9 months, and 9 days: from October 1997 to 10 July 2001. This time is not particularly long. Besides, during this time the domestic courts examined the merits of the case four times and did not idle. The Court therefore finds that the length of the proceedings was “reasonable”.

It follows that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

2.  The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the proceedings before the presidium had been unfair. Article 6 § 1, as far as relevant, reads as follows:

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

In the proceedings in question, the presidium decided whether to reopen the case. However, Article 6 does not apply to such proceedings (see Petersen v. Denmark, no. 28288/95, Commission decision of 16 April 1998).

It follows that this complaint is incompatible ratione materiæ with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4.

3.  The applicant complained under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that the State had failed to resolve the litigation fairly. Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 reads 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.”

This Article does not require the State to interfere in adjudication of civil disputes.

It follows that this complaint is incompatible ratione materiæ with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4.

4.  The applicant complained under Article 8 § 1 of the Convention and under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that the domestic courts had misinterpreted her contract with the bank. Article 8 § 1 reads as follows:

“Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.”

In substance, this complaint concerns the domestic courts' findings of facts and law. However, it is not the Court's task to review such findings (see Edwards v. the United Kingdom, judgment of 16 December 1992, Series A no. 247-B, § 34).

It follows that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

5.  The applicant complained under Article 13 of the Convention that the presidium had disregarded important laws. Article 13 reads as follows:

“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”

In substance, this complaint concerns the domestic courts' findings of facts and law. However, it is not the Court's task to review such findings (see Edwards, cited above, § 34).

It follows that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

6.  The applicant complained under Articles 17 and 18 of the Convention that the presidium had breached her rights guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention and by Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.

Article 17 of the Convention reads as follows:

“Nothing in [the] Convention may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the Convention.”

Article 18 of the Convention reads as follows:

“The restrictions permitted under [the] Convention to the said rights and freedoms shall not be applied for any purpose other than those for which they have been prescribed.”

The Court finds no evidence that the State intended to destroy or abusively restrict the applicant's rights under Article 8 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.

It follows that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

7.  The applicant complained under Articles 6 and 13 of the Convention, and under Articles 2 and 3 of Protocol No. 7 that no appeal lay against the domestic courts' decisions of 26 November 1998 and 2 June 2000.

Article 2 of Protocol No. 7 reads as follows:

“1.  Everyone convicted of a criminal offence by a tribunal shall have the right to have his conviction or sentence reviewed by a higher tribunal. The exercise of this right, including the grounds on which it may be exercised, shall be governed by law.

2.  This right may be subject to exceptions in regard to offences of a minor character, as prescribed by law, or in cases in which the person concerned was tried in the first instance by the highest tribunal or was convicted following an appeal against acquittal.”

Article 3 of Protocol No. 7 reads as follows:

“When a person has by a final decision been convicted of a criminal offence and when subsequently his conviction has been reversed, or he has been pardoned, on the ground that a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that there has been a miscarriage of justice, the person who has suffered punishment as a result of such conviction shall be compensated according to the law or the practice of the State concerned, unless it is proved that the non-disclosure of the unknown fact in time is wholly or partly attributable to him.”

These Articles concern criminal proceedings, whereas the applicant's proceedings were civil.

It follows that this complaint is incompatible ratione materiæ with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4.

8.  The applicant complained that the court that gave the judgment of 19 April 2001 had been composed unlawfully. In substance, this complaint falls to be examined under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention which, as far as relevant, reads as follows:

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

The applicant failed to raise this complaint in her appeal to the regional court.

It follows that this complaint must be rejected under Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.

9.  The applicant complained that the proceedings before the district court on 19 April 2001 had been unfair and that the court had misinterpreted the evidence before it.

In substance, this complaint concerns the domestic courts' findings of facts and law. However, it is not the Court's task to review such findings (see Edwards, cited above, § 34). There is no indication of procedural unfairness within the meaning of the Convention.

It follows that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Declares the application inadmissible.

Vincent Berger Boštjan M. Zupančič 
 Registrar President

PRONINA v. RUSSIA DECISION


PRONINA v. RUSSIA DECISION