CASE OF MOLDORATOV AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA (European Court of Human Rights) 14277/19 and 3 others

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”)


THIRD SECTION
CASE OF MOLDORATOV AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA
(Applications nos. 14277/19 and 3 others – see appended list)
JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
28 July 2022

This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Moldoratov and Others v. Russia,

The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:

Darian Pavli, President,
Andreas Zünd,
Mikhail Lobov, judges,
and Viktoriya Maradudina, Acting Deputy Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 30 June 2022,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:

PROCEDURE

1. 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.

2. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were given notice of the applications.

THE FACTS

3. The list of applicants and the relevant details of the applications are set out in the appended table.

4. The applicants complained that they had been denied an opportunity to appear in person before the courts of first and appeal instances, in the civil proceedings to which they were parties.

THE LAW

I. JOINDER OF THE APPLICATIONS

5. Having regard to the similar subject matter of the applications, the Court finds it appropriate to examine them jointly in a single judgment.

II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION

6. 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 …”

7. The Court rejects the Government’s objection in application no. 1344/21 on account of the applicant’s alleged failure to exhaust domestic remedies by failing to bring a cassation appeal before the Supreme Court of Russia. It follows from the documents submitted that the applicant indeed lodged such an appeal and that it was dismissed.

8. 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 the Court’s 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).

9. In the present case, the applicants, detainees at the time of the events, were not afforded an opportunity to attend hearings of first and appeal instances in civil proceedings to which they were parties (the details of those domestic proceedings are indicated in the appended table). 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 than in Yevdokimov and Others, cited above.

10. Having regard to its case-law on the subject, the Court considers that in the instant cases 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.

11. These complaints are therefore admissible and disclose a breach of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.

III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

12. 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.”

13. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case‑law (see, in particular, Igranov and Others v. Russia, nos. 42933/13 and 8 others, § 40, 20 March 2018), the Court considers it reasonable to award the sums indicated in the appended table.

14. The Court further 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,

1. Decides to join the applications;

2. Declares the applications admissible;

3. Holds that these applications disclose a breach of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention concerning the applicants’ absence from civil proceedings;

4. Holds

(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 during the default period plus three percentage points.

Done in English, and notified in writing on 28 July 2022, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.

Viktoriya Maradudina                 Darian Pavli
Acting Deputy Registrar               President

___________

APPENDIX
List of applications raising complaints under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention
(applicant’s absence from civil proceedings)

No. Application no.
Date of introduction
Applicant’s name
Year of birth
Nature of the dispute
Final decision
First-instance hearing date
Court
Appeal hearing date
Court
Final decision date
(Supreme Court of Russia)
Amount awarded for non-pecuniary damage and costs and expenses per applicant
(in euros)[i]
1. 14277/19
15/04/2019
Roman Ivanovich MOLDORATOV
1978
Compensation claim for inadequate conditions of transport during the applicant’s pre-trial detention 27/07/2018
Ingodinskiy District Court of Chita
30/10/2018
Zabaykalskiy Regional Court
05/03/2019 1,500
2. 49598/19
09/09/2019
Petr Nikolayevich YASHCHENKO
1976
Compensation claim for inadequate conditions of detention 17/10/2018
Ingodinskiy District Court of Chita
26/03/2019
Zabaykalskiy Regional Court
24/07/2019 1,500
3. 63841/19
18/11/2019
Aleksey Viktorovich SMIRNOV
1983
Maksim Sergeyevich YERMOSHIN
1981
Civil claim against the applicants filed by the Prosecutor following to their criminal conviction 13/12/2018
Yoshkar-Ola Town Court
28/03/2019
Supreme Court of Mariy-El Republic
26/09/2019 1,500
to be paid to each of the applicants
4. 1344/21
01/12/2020
Vitaliy Valeryevich STEPANOV
1988
Compensation claim for inadequate conditions of detention 13/03/2019
Nyagan Town Court of the Khanty-Mansy Region
16/07/2019
Khanty-Mansy Regional Court
06/08/2020 1,500

[i] Plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants.

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