AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
Application no. 874/03
by Valeriy Vladimirovich INOZEMTSEV
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section),
31 August 2006 as a Chamber composed of:
Mr C.L. Rozakis, President,
Mr L. Loucaides,
Mrs N. Vajić,
Mr A. Kovler,
Mrs E. Steiner,
Mr K. Hajiyev,
Mr D. Spielmann, judges,
and Mr S. Nielsen, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 11 December 2002,
Having regard to the decision to apply Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and examine the admissibility and merits of the case together.
Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicants,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Valeriy Vladimirovich Inozemtsev, is a Russian national, who was born in 1961 and lives in the village of Listvyanka of the Ryazan Region. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr P. Laptev, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
1. The background of the case
The applicant is a retired serviceman. On unspecified dates in the past, he had taken part in peace-keeping operations in former Yugoslavia and Tajikistan.
On unspecified dates, the applicant instituted two sets of proceedings against military unit no. 03611, seeking to recover the unpaid daily allowances owed to him for his participation in the above operations.
2. Court proceedings
In the proceedings before the Military Court of the Ryazan Garrison (Рязанский гарнизонный военный суд) the representative of the military unit fully accepted both the applicant’s claims. He submitted that it was impossible to pay the sums owed to the applicant, since there was no mechanism developed for payment of daily allowances to servicemen who had been commissioned abroad. Furthermore, no funds were available for this purpose.
On 11 December 2001 the Military Court of the Ryazan Garrison granted the applicant’s first claim and ordered the defendant to pay him 379,632.12 Russian roubles (“RUR”, approximately 14,170 euros at the material time). The court found that the applicant could not be deprived of the right to receive the sums owed to him because of the absence of an appropriate mechanism of payment. No appeal was lodged and this judgment became final on 24 December 2001.
On 20 December 2001 the Military Court of the Ryazan Garrison granted the applicant’s second claim and ordered the defendant to pay him RUR 182,587.80 (approximately 6,683 euros at the material time). The court came to the same finding as above. No appeal was lodged and this judgment became final on 3 January 2002.
3. Enforcement proceedings
On 5 February 2002 the Military Court issued two execution writs.
On an unspecified date, the applicant submitted the execution writs to the Ryazan Regional Branch of the Federal Treasury. He was advised to apply to the Ministry of Finance for the latter to recover the amount due from the Ministry of Defence.
On 22 April 2002 the applicant forwarded the execution writs to the Ministry of Finance.
According to the Government, the Ministry acted under the procedure set out in Decree No. 143 and notified the Ministry of Defence about the applicant’s claims, requesting it to pay.
By payment order no. 262 of 23 April 2003 the applicant received the outstanding amount of RUR 562,219.92 in full.
B. Relevant domestic law
Section 9 of the Federal Law on Enforcement Proceedings of 21 July 1997 provides that a bailiff’s order on the institution of enforcement proceedings must fix a time-limit for the defendant’s voluntary compliance with a writ of execution. The time-limit may not exceed five days. The bailiff must also warn the defendant that a coercive action will follow, should the defendant fail to comply with the time-limit.
Under Section 13 of the Law, the enforcement proceedings should be completed within two months upon receipt of the writ of enforcement by the bailiff.
Under special rules governing enforcement of execution writs against the recipients of allocations from the federal budget, adopted by the Federal Government on 22 February 2001 (Decree No. 143, as in force at the relevant time), a creditor is to apply to a relevant branch of the Federal Treasury holding debtor’s accounts or, in certain cases, to the Ministry of Finance (Sections 1 to 4).
Within the next five days the branch examines the application and notifies the debtor of the writ, compelling the latter to abide by the respective court decisions (Sections 7 to 12). In case of the debtor’s failure to comply within two months, the branch may temporarily freeze the debtor’s accounts (see Section 13).
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 about the non-execution of the judgments of 11 and 20 December 2001.
1. The applicant complained about the State’s failure to enforce the judgments of 11 and 20 December 2001, relying on Article 6 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 which, insofar as relevant, provide as follows:
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing ... 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.
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 Government submitted that at the time of processing of the applicant’s writs the Ministry of Defence had been in transition from an old system of administration of its finances to a new one and that during that phase the Ministry had faced considerable difficulties in managing payments in respect of over 92,000 writs from all over the country which had lead to certain delays. Furthermore, as the judgments were enforced the applicant cannot claim to be a victim of the alleged violations. Finally, they argued that he failed to exhaust domestic remedies as he never brought an action for damages in respect of the delay in enforcement. They invited the Court to declare the complaint inadmissible accordingly.
The applicant disagreed with the Government and maintained his complaints.
The Court finds that it is not necessary to examine the question of exhaustion of domestic remedies as the complaint about non-enforcement of the judgments of 11 and 20 December 2001 is in any event inadmissible for the following reasons. The Court observes, and it is not contested by the parties, that the court judgments were executed in full. It further recalls that a delay in the execution of a judgment may be justified in particular circumstances (see Burdov v. Russia, no. 59498/00, § 35, ECHR 2002-III and Timofeyev v. Russia, no. 58263/00, § 37, 23 October 2003). In the present case the overall period during which the court awards in question remained without enforcement was slightly over one year and four months. However, the Court notes that the applicant did not apply to the Ministry of Finance according to the procedure set out in Decree No. 143 until 22 April 2002. Thus the enforcement proceedings in respect of the court judgments in the applicant’s favour lasted approximately one year which does not appear excessive (see Grishchenko v. Russia (dec.), no. 75907/01, 8 July 2004 and Presnyakov v. Russia (dec.), no. 41145/02, 10 November 2005). In addition, the Court accepts the Government’s argument that the Ministry of Defence experienced objective difficulties with the enforcement of court awards during the transition period and, having regard to the circumstances of the case, finds that the judgments were enforced within a “reasonable time”.
It follows that the application is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to discontinue the application of Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and declares the application inadmissible.
Søren Nielsen Christos Rozakis
INOZEMTSEV v. RUSSIA DECISION
INOZEMTSEV v. RUSSIA DECISION