PANOV v. RUSSIA (European Court of Human Rights)

THIRD SECTION
DECISION

Application no. 45340/09
Georgiy Vladimirovich PANOV
against Russia

The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 4 December 2018 as a Committee composed of:

BrankoLubarda, President,
Pere Pastor Vilanova,
Georgios A. Serghides, judges,
and FatoşAracı, Deputy Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 31 July 2009,

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

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Mr Georgiy Vladimirovich Panov, was a Russian national, who was born in 1947 and lived in Norilsk.

On 6 December 2014 the applicant died. His son, Mr Roman Georgiyevich Popov, born in 1971 and living in Norilsk, expressed the intention to continue the proceedings before the Court.

The applicant was represented before the Court by Mr D.A. Boyev, a lawyer practising in Norilsk, and so is Mr R.G. Popov.

The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented initially by Mr G. Matyushkin, the Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Court of Human Rights, and then by his successor in that office, Mr M. Galperin.

A.  The circumstances of the case

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

The applicant was granted victim status in the criminal proceedings against a private person. On 13 March 2006 the Norilsk Town Court of the Krasnoyarsk Region ordered to return to the applicant a pair of trousers, a sweater and a leather jacket, which had been admitted as evidence in the criminal case. It appears that the judgment was not enforced.

On 12 February 2015 the applicant’s representative informed the Court that on 6 December 2014 the applicant had died. The lawyer further stated that he had informed the applicant’s relatives of the applicant’s complaint to the Court, and that the applicant’s son, Mr R.G. Popov expressed a wish to maintain the application in his late father’s stead.

On 23 March 2015 the Court requested a copy of an authentic document issued by domestic authorities certifying that the applicant’s son was the applicant’s legal heir.

On 5 May 2015 Mr R.G. Popov submitted in reply that he had made a disclaimer of an inheritance for the benefit of his mother. Nonetheless, he had applied to a notary for a succession certificate. On 30 April 2015 the notary had issued a written refusal to produce the certificate. The refusal stated that, in line with Article 1142 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, the applicant’s heirs had been his widow, daughter and son. The succession file contained the widow’s acceptance of the succession and the daughter’s and the son’s statements of disclaimer of the inheritance for the benefit of their mother. With reference to Article 1157 of the Code the notary reiterated that a disclaimer of an inheritance could not be altered or reversed and concluded that she was unable to issue a succession certificate, due to Mr R.G. Panov’sdisclamer.

The applicant’s son did not challenge the refusal in court proceedings.

No other relatives of the applicant have expressed a wish to maintain the application in the late applicant’s stead.

B.  Relevant domestic law

Succession is regulated by Part 3 of the Civil Code. The deceased’s children, spouse and parents have priority in succession over other heirs (Article 1141-42). An heir should claim and accept succession, as well as obtain a succession certificate from a public notary (Articles 1152, 1162).

Article 1157 § 1 (Disclaiming an inheritance) provides that a heir has a right to disclaim an inheritance for the benefit of other persons or without an indication of a person for whose benefit the inheritance is rejected. A disclaimer of an inheritance cannot be altered or reversed (Article 1157 § 3).

COMPLAINT

The applicant complained under Article 6 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 thereto about the non-enforcement of the judgment of in his favour.

THE LAW

The applicant complained under Article 6 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 thereto about the non-enforcement of the judgment of in his favour, and his son maintained the complaint.

The Government objected to the applicant’s son’s standing, arguing that he had refused the succession and that action was irrevocable under the Russian law.

The Court notes that the applicant died after having lodged his application to the Court and that his son expressed a wish to maintain the claim. Where the applicant has died after the application was lodged, the Court has accepted that the next-of-kin or heir may in principle pursue the application, provided that he or she has sufficient interest in the case (see Centre for Legal Resources on behalf of Valentin Câmpeanu v. Romania [GC], no. 47848/08, § 97, ECHR 2014, with further references). Furthermore, in several Russian cases concerning non‑enforcement of court judgments in the applicant’s favour, the Court recognised the right of the relatives of the deceased applicant to pursue the application (see Shiryayeva v. Russia, no. 21417/04, 13 July 2006, and Shvedov v. Russia, no. 69306/01, 20 October 2005).

The Court further reiterates, however, that it is for the heir who wishes to pursue the proceedings before the Court to substantiate his or her standing to do so (see Belskiy v. Russia (dec.), no. 23593/03, 26 November 2009, and Streltsov and other “Novocherkassk military pensioners” cases v. Russia, nos. 8549/06 and 86 others, § 36, 29 July 2010).

It follows from the documents produced by the applicant’s son that he had explicitly disclaimed the inheritance for the benefit of his mother, and that the disclaimer was not revocable or subject to any change. Accordingly, the applicant’s son was not able to submit a document duly recognising him as heir in accordance with the Russian law. Therefore, he has not substantiated his standing to pursue the application in his late father’s stead (see Belskiy, cited above; Rista and Others v. Albania, nos. 5207/10 and 6 others, § 34, 17 March 2016; and Koltakova v. Russia (dec.), no. 23558/06, 17 January 2017).

Otherwise, the Court does not consider that “respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and the Protocols” requires the examination of the application, despite the applicant’s death.

In these circumstances the Court considers that it is no longer justified to continue the examination of the application and concludes pursuant to Article 37 § 1 (c) of the Convention that the application should be struck out of its list of cases.

For these reasons, the Court, unanimously,

Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases in accordance with Article 37 § 1 (c) of the Convention.

Done in English and notified in writing on 10 January 2019.

FatoşAracı                                                      BrankoLubarda
Deputy Registrar                                                      President

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