CASE OF SMIRNOVA v. RUSSIA (European Court of Human Rights)

THIRD SECTION
CASE OF SMIRNOVA v. RUSSIA
(Application no. 9157/04)

JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
15 October 2019

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

In the case of Smirnova v. Russia,

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

Alena Poláčková, President,
Dmitry Dedov,
Gilberto Felici, judges,
and Stephen Phillips, Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 24 September 2019,

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

PROCEDURE

1. The case originated in an application (no. 9157/04) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Russian national, Ms Lyudmila Ivanovna Smirnova (“the applicant”), on 20 January 2004.

2. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr G. Matyushkin, the Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Court of Human Rights.

3. On 15 January 2009 notice of the application was given to the Government.

THE FACTS

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE

4. The applicant was born in 1951 and lives in Shakhty.

5. On 10 September 2003 the Rostov Regional Court by a final judgment awarded the applicant 20,798 Russian roubles (RUB) (approximately 693 euros (EUR)) in damages from municipal social services. This judgment was fully enforced on 18 April 2006, i.e. two years, and seven months later.

6. On 1 December 2003 the Shakhtinskiy Town Court of the Rostov Region awarded the applicant RUB 223,682 (approximately EUR 7,450) in compensation from a private company M. On 13 January 2006, i.e. two years and one month later, the applicant sold the above debt to a private company G.

II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW

7. The relevant provisions of the domestic law were previously reproduced in the judgments in the cases Burdov v. Russia (no. 2) (no. 33509/04, §§ 22-38, ECHR 2009) and Kunashko v. Russia (no. 36337/03, §§ 27-30, 17 December 2009).

THE LAW

I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 OF THE CONVENTION

8. The applicant complained under Article 6 of the Convention about a lengthy non-enforcement of the judgment of 10 September 2003 by the Rostov Regional Court against the State and of the judgment of 1 December 2003 by the Shakhtinskiy Town Court of the Rostov Region against a private party.

9. The Government stated that both judgments in the applicant’s favour were fully enforced.

A. Admissibility

10. The Court notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.

B. Merits

11. In the present case one of the awards had concerned the award against municipal social services (a state entity) and the other the private company M. The first judgment had been enforced two years and seven months after entering into force. The applicant’s claim under the second judgment ceased to exist two years and one month after the award had been made.

12. In situations where the party liable to pay is a State, the constant approach of the Court is that the judicial award should be enforced fully, virtually unconditionally, and without any unjustified delay (see Burdov v. Russia, no. 59498/00, § 35, ECHR 2002‑III). In contrast to a weighty obligation of a High Contracting Party to comply expediently with the judgments against it, within the domain of enforcement of a final and binding judicial decision against a private party a State’s obligations are limited to providing a creditor with the necessary legal assistance and ensuring the effective operation of the procedure (see Fuklev v. Ukraine, no. 71186/01, § 84, 7 June 2005; Anokhin v. Russia (dec.), no. 25867/02, 31 May 2007; and Kunashko v. Russia, no. 36337/03, § 38, 17 December 2009).

13. Having regard to the available material and the parties’ submissions the Court considers that a) there had been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention on account of lengthy non-enforcement of the judgment of 10 September 2003 by the Rostov Regional Court, and b) there has been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention on account of failure to assist the applicant in enforcement of the judgment of 1 December 2003 by the Shakhtinskiy Town Court of the Rostov Region against a private party.

II. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONVENTION

14. Further, the applicant complained about the lengthy enforcement of the judgments under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. The Court, having regard to the available material and the fact that the above judgments were fully enforced, concludes that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected under Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention.

III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

15. 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.”

A. Damage

16. The applicant claimed 120,000 Russian roubles (RUB) (4,000 euros (EUR)) in respect of pecuniary and EUR 7,375 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

17. The Government considered the claim to be excessive.

18. The Court, having regard to the facts of the present case, rejects the claim for pecuniary damage and awards the applicant EUR 1,500 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

B. Costs and expenses

19. The applicant also claimed RUB 2,251 (EUR 75) and EUR 100 for the costs and expenses incurred before the Court.

20. The Government agreed that these expenses were necessary and reasonable.

21. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case‑law, the Court considers it reasonable to award the sum of EUR 175 for the proceedings before the Court.

C. Default interest

22. 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,

1. Declares the complaint under Article 6 of the Convention admissible and the remainder of the application inadmissible;

2. Holdsthat there has been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention on account of lengthy non-enforcement of the judgment against the State;

3. Holdsthat there has been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention on account of the failure to assist the applicant in enforcement of the judgment against a private party;

4. Holds

(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months the following amounts,to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:

(i) EUR 1,500 (one thousand five hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;

(ii) EUR 175 (one hundred and seventy five euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant, in respect of costs and expenses;

(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;

5. Dismissesthe remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.

Done in English, and notified in writing on 15 October 2019, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.

Stephen Phillips                           Alena Poláčková
Registrar                                     President

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