EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
CASE OF CHEPINOGA AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA
(Application no. 48836/09 and 4 others – see appended list)
<*> This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Chepinoga and Others v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Luis Guerra, President,
Jolien Schukking, judges,
and Liv Tigerstedt, Acting Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 15 June 2017,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
- The case originated in applications against Russia lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) on the various dates indicated in the appended table.
- The applications were communicated to the Russian Government (“the Government”).
- The list of applicants and the relevant details of the applications are set out in the appended table.
- The applicants complained that they had been denied an opportunity to appear in person before the court in the civil proceedings to which they were parties.
- Joinder of the applications
- Having regard to the similar subject matter of the applications, the Court finds it appropriate to examine them jointly in a single judgment.
- Alleged violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention
- The applicants complained that their right to a fair hearing had been breached on account of the domestic courts’ refusal of their requests to appear in court. They relied on Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which reads as follows:
Article 6 § 1
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations… everyone is entitled to a… hearing within a reasonable time by [a]… tribunal…”
- The Court reiterates that the applicants, detainees at the time of the events, were not afforded an opportunity to attend hearings in civil proceedings to which they were parties. The details of those domestic proceedings are indicated in the appended table. The Court observes that the general principles regarding the right to present one’s case effectively before the court and to enjoy equality of arms with the opposing side, as guaranteed by Article 6 of the Convention, have been stated in a number of its previous judgments (see, among many other authorities, Steel and Morris v. the United Kingdom, no. 68416/01, §§ 59-60, ECHR 2005-II). The Court’s analysis of an alleged violation of the right to a fair trial in respect of cases where incarcerated applicants complain about their absence from hearings in civil proceedings includes the following elements: examination of the manner in which domestic courts assessed the question whether the nature of the dispute required the applicants’ personal presence and determination whether domestic courts put in place any procedural arrangements aiming at guaranteeing their effective participation in the proceedings (see Yevdokimov and Others v. Russia, nos. 27236/05 and 10 others, § 48, 16 February 2016).
- In the leading case of Yevdokimov and Others v. Russia, nos. 27236/05 and 10 others, 16 February 2016, the Court already found a violation in respect of issues similar to those in the present case.
- Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court has not found any fact or argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion on the admissibility and merits of these complaints. In particular, the Court dismisses the Government’s argument about belated applications in cases nos. 41652/12 and 27066/13. It notes that the applicants in the two cases first complained to the Court about their absence from civil proceedings in letters dispatched on 22 May 2012 and 17 March 2013, respectively, that is within the six months after the final judgments in their cases (see the appended table for further details). Having regard to its case-law on the subject, the Court considers that in the instant case the domestic courts deprived the applicants of the opportunity to present their cases effectively and failed to meet their obligation to ensure respect for the principle of a fair trial.
- These complaints are therefore admissible and disclose a breach of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
III. Application of Article 41 of the Convention
- 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.”
- Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case-law, the Court considers it reasonable to award the sums indicated in the appended table.
- The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY
- Decides to join the applications;
- Declares the applications admissible;
- Holds that these applications disclose a breach of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention concerning the applicants’ absence from civil proceedings;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicants, within three months, the amounts indicated in the appended table, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(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 6 July 2017, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Luis Guerra President
Liv Tigerstedt Acting Deputy Registrar
LIST OF APPLICATIONS RAISING COMPLAINTS UNDER ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION (APPLICANT’S ABSENCE FROM CIVIL PROCEEDINGS)
Date of introduction
Date of birth
|Nature of the dispute
|First-instance hearing date Court||Appeal hearing date Court||Amount awarded for non-pecuniary damage and costs and expenses per applicant
(in euros) <1>
|Anatoliy Anatolyevich Chepinoga
|non-pecuniary damages for bad conditions of detention||08/10/2009
Abakan Town Court of the Khakassiya Republic
Supreme Court of the Khakassiya Republic
|Viktor Valeryevich Sablin
|non-pecuniary damages for wrongful conviction||02/08/2011
Tsentralnyy District Court of Chita
Zabaykalskiy Regional Court
|Andrey Mikhaylovich Korolenko
|victim’s claim for damages||13/08/2012
Leninskiy District Court of Vladimir
Vladimirskiy Regional Court
|German Nikolayevich Vyushkin
|non-pecuniary damages for bad conditions of detention (no doors in the restrooms; mould on the walls)||04/12/2013
Omutninskiy District Court of the Kirov Region
Kirov Regional Court
|Marsel Mirgayazovich Garayev
|non-pecuniary damages for unlawful criminal prosecution||21/10/2013
Aznakayevo Town Court of the Tatarstan Republic
Supreme Court of the Tatarstan Republic
<1> Plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants.