FIRST SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 72757/01 
by Tatyana Nikolayevna BARANOVA 
against Russia

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting on  
9 November 2004 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr C.L. Rozakis, President
 Mr P. Lorenzen
 Mrs N. Vajić
 Mrs S. Botoucharova
 Mr A. Kovler
 Mrs E. Steiner, 
 Mr K. Hajiyev, judges
and Mr S. Nielsen, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 12 March 2001,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Tatyana Nikolayevna Baranova, is a Russian national, who was born in 1964 and lives in Moscow.

A.  The circumstances of the case

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

The applicant worked as an officer of the Moscow Division of the Courts Administration Office attached to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. On 21 April 2000 she was dismissed for being absent from work for four days without permission.

She brought proceedings before the Presnenskiy District Court of Moscow for reinstatement and damages, alleging, in particular, that she was a single mother and could not be dismissed on the administration's initiative.

On 7 June 2000 the court examined the case and found the applicant's allegation concerning her status as a single mother false and her dismissal lawful. On 22 September 2000 the Moscow City Court disallowed the applicant's appeal and upheld the judgment.

The applicant's subsequent applications to the Moscow City Court, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the prosecutor's office pursuing the supervisory review of the judgment were rejected as well as her application for re-examination of the case due to newly discovered circumstances (decision of the Presnenskiy District Court of Moscow of 5 June 2002).

B.  Relevant domestic law

Functioning of the Courts Administration Office attached to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (in so far as courts of general jurisdiction are concerned)

The functioning of the Courts Administration Office attached to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation is mainly regulated by the 1996 Law on the Judicial System of the Russian Federation (sections 30, 31, 33), the 1998 Law on the Courts Administration Office at the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the 1992 Law on the Status of Judges  
(section 9).

The Head of the Courts Administration Office is appointed to this post by the President of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation with the consent of the Judges' Council. The Courts Administration Office assumed, in particular, the following functions, previously performed by the federal Ministry of Justice, aimed at ensuring the activity of courts and arrangement of conditions necessary for the proper administration of justice without an interference with the latter:

- in the field of the financing of courts (judges' remuneration, benefits, training and pensions; construction and maintenance of court buildings; office equipment; postal expenses, transport and other charges are financed by the federal budget): budget drafting and budget presentation to the Government and to the federal legislature; distribution of funds between courts; supervision and audit of courts' expenditure of funds.

- in the field of human resources: determination of the need of particular courts for human resources and redistribution between courts, with the consent of the President of the Supreme Court, of the newly formed vacancies of posts of judges; assistance to the Qualification Board of Judges in the selection of candidates for the posts of judges; judges' training; provision of judges (including retired judges) with free housing, social security and other benefits provided for by law; undertaking measures on the security of judges and members of their families. According to the applicant, Section 2.2.13 of the Regulations on the Moscow Division of the Courts Administration Office approved by the Head of the Courts Administration Office provided that the Moscow Division of the Courts Administration Office also makes proposals to the Qualification Board of Judges on termination of judge's functions.

- other administrative support: construction and maintenance of court buildings; supply with office equipment, transport and other resources; organization of clerical work and informational support.

COMPLAINTS

1.  The applicant complains under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the courts which heard her case in both instances were not impartial and independent of the defendant in the case - the Courts Administration Office at the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.

2.  The applicant also complains that her dismissal constituted degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 of the Convention and that the first instance court by examining her status as a single mother violated her right to respect for her private and family life guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention.

THE LAW

1.  The applicant complains that the courts which decided her case were not impartial and independent of the defendant in the case, her former employer. She relied on Article 6 § 1 of the Convention which reads as follows:

“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing ... by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.”

The Court first recalls that employment disputes of civil servants fall within the ambit of Article 6 where the applicant's post does not entail direct or indirect participation in the exercise of powers conferred by public law and duties designed to safeguard the general interests of the State or of other public authorities. (see Pellegrin v. France [GC], no. 28541/95, §§ 64-67, ECHR 1999-VIII). However, the Court finds that it is not necessary to determine this issue in the present case because, even assuming that Article 6 applies to the applicant's case concerning her reinstatement in her post of an officer of the Courts Administration Office, the applicant's complaint is in any event manifestly ill-founded for the following reason.

The Court reiterates that a tribunal must be independent of the legislature and notably of the executive and of the parties to the case (see Campbell and Fell v. the United Kingdom, judgment of 28 June 1984, Series A no. 80, § 78). In order to establish whether a tribunal can be considered as “independent”, regard must be had, inter alia, to the manner of appointment of its members and its term of office, the existence of guarantees against outside pressures and the question whether the body presents an appearance of independence. As to the requirement of “impartiality”, it has two aspects: first, the tribunal must be subjectively free of personal prejudice or bias, and secondly, it must also be impartial from an objective viewpoint, that is, it must offer sufficient guarantees to exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect (see Morris v. the United Kingdom, no. 38784/97, § 58, ECHR 2002-I). As the concepts of independence and objective impartiality are closely linked they are usually considered together.

The Court notes that there is no allegation of subjective bias in the present case. It, therefore, needs to be examined whether the applicant's doubts were objectively justified.

The Court observes that the Courts Administration Office attached to the Supreme Court represents an executive office within the judicial authority designed for securing the proper functioning of the latter by dealing with a whole range of issues, including budget drafting and budget implementation, court staffing and social security issues as well as the arrangement of conditions for day-to-day activities of courts. The Court notes that the courts which decided the applicant's case fall within the scope of the Courts Administration Office's responsibilities.

In the Court's opinion, the mere fact that the applicant was formerly employed by the Courts Administration Office that provided the above administrative support to the courts which considered the applicant's case against it, does not in itself suffice to cast doubt on the impartiality and independence of the courts. Moreover, the Court notes that constitutional safeguards of the independence and impartiality of judges include security of judges' tenure, their irremovability and freedom from outside instructions or pressure. The Court considers that these guarantees were sufficient to exclude the applicant's misgivings about independence and impartiality of the courts in her case.

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 Court has examined the remainder of the applicant's complaints as submitted by her. However, having regard to all material in its possession, 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 this part of the application must be rejected as being manifestly ill-founded, pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Declares the application inadmissible.

Søren Nielsen Christos Rozakis 
 Registrar President

BARANOVA v. RUSSIA DECISION


BARANOVA v. RUSSIA DECISION