ПОСТАНОВЛЕНИЕ Европейского суда по правам человека от 17.11.2005<ДЕЛО СУНЦОВА (suntsova) ПРОТИВ РОССИИ> [англ.]
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
CASE OF SUNTSOVA v.
(Application No. 55687/00)
<*> This judgment will
become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention.
It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Suntsova v.
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a
Chamber composed of:
Mr C.L. Rozakis, President,
Mr A. Kovler,
Mrs E. Steiner,
Mr D. Spielmann,
Mr S.E. Jebens, judges,
S. Quesada, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on
25 October 2005,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on
1. The case originated in an application (No.
55687/00) 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 Lyudmila Grigoryevna Suntsova, a Russian national, on 12
2. The Russian Government ("the Government") were
represented by their Agent, Mr P. Laptev, Representative of the Russian
Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.
3. On 30 September
2003 the Court decided to communicate the application to the Government. Under
the provisions of Article 29 § 3 of the Convention, it decided to examine the
merits of the application at the same time as its admissibility.
I. The circumstances of the case
4. The applicant was born in
1948 and lives in Volgograd.
5. Pursuant to a decision of the Volgograd
Central District Administration of 14 October 1987 the applicant began receiving
a monthly single mother allowance in respect of her daughter who was born on 15
6. In 1998, from April to July, the applicant received no
On 4 September 1998 the applicant brought proceedings before
the Central District Court of the City of Volgograd (Центральный
районный суд города Волгограда) requesting the
payment of outstanding sums.
7. By a judgment of 21 September 1998 the
court allowed the applicant"s claim and ordered the Finance Department of the
Volgograd Regional Administration (Волгоградское
облфинуправление) to pay the applicant 467.56 roubles (RUR).
8. Following the entry into force of the judgment, the court"s bailiff
instituted enforcement proceedings for recovery of the sum awarded to the
applicant. However, the applicant was informed that in 1998 the court judgment
could not be enforced, because the defendant lacked sufficient funds.
The applicant complained about the non-enforcement of the judgment to the
Department of Justice of the Volgograd Regional Administration
(Управление юстиции администрации
Волгоградской области), which on 16 February 1999 forwarded
her complaint to the bailiff"s service of the first instance court for reply and
In an undated letter of 1999, the bailiff"s service
informed the applicant that it had issued a writ of execution, but had not yet
received from the defendant the sum due to the applicant.
to the Governments submissions, which were not contested by the applicant, the
sum of RUR 467.56 was paid to her twice - on 29 September 2000 and on 9 October
II. Relevant domestic law
11. 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 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 of the receipt of the writ of enforcement by the bailiff.
I. Alleged violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention
and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention
13. The applicant
complained about the prolonged non-enforcement of the judgment in her favour.
The court will examine this complaint under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention and
Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention. These Articles, in so far as
relevant, read as follows:
Article 6 § 1
"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."
14. The Government contested the admissibility of the
application on the grounds that the judgment concerned had been executed and the
applicant had failed to challenge the bailiff"s actions in court, i.e. she had
not exhausted the domestic remedies. Furthermore, the applicant had failed to
initiate any domestic proceedings with respect to her claim for compensation of
non-pecuniary damage caused by the non-enforcement of the judgment in her
15. The applicant maintained that she complained against the
bailiff"s inactivity to the Department of Justice of the Volgograd Regional
16. As regards the Government"s argument that the
judgment in question has already been enforced, the Court considers that the
mere fact that the authorities complied with the judgment after a substantial
delay cannot be viewed in this case as automatically depriving the applicant of
her victim status under the Convention (see, e.g., Petrushko v. Russia, No.
36494/02, § 16, 24 February 2005).
17. As to the alleged non-exhaustion
of domestic remedies by the applicant, the Court reiterates that Article 35 § 1
of the Convention, which sets out the rule on exhaustion of domestic remedies,
provides for a distribution of the burden of proof. It is incumbent on the
Government claiming non-exhaustion to satisfy the Court that the remedy was an
effective one available in theory and in practice at the relevant time, that is
to say, that it was accessible, was one which was capable of providing redress
in respect of the applicant"s complaints and offered reasonable prospects of
success. However, once this burden of proof has been satisfied it falls to the
applicant to establish that the remedy advanced by the Government was in fact
exhausted or was for some reason inadequate and ineffective in the particular
circumstances of the case or that there existed special circumstances absolving
him or her from the requirement (see Selmouni v. France [GC], No. 25803/94, §
76, ECHR 1999-V).
The only remedies which Article 35 of the Convention
requires to be exhausted are those that relate to the breaches alleged and at
the same time are available and sufficient. The existence of such remedies must
be sufficiently certain not only in theory but also in practice, failing which
they will lack the requisite accessibility and effectiveness; it falls to the
respondent State to establish that these various conditions are satisfied (see
Mifsud v. France (dec.) [GC], No. 57220/00, § 15, ECHR 2002-VIII).
Turning to the present case, the Court notes that the Government put forward no
reasons why an action against the bailiff"s service should be considered an
effective remedy. There is no suggestion that it was inefficiency of the
bailiff"s service which prevented the enforcement of the judgment at issue. In
fact, the Government conceded that the delays in enforcement of the judgment
concerned had been caused by circumstances beyond the bailiff"s control.
Apparently, the reason for the delay was the lack of funds. The Court therefore
finds that an action against the bailiff"s service would not have enhanced the
applicant"s prospects of receiving her award. The Court considers that in the
present case it could not be said to have constituted an effective remedy
against non-enforcement (see Plotnikovy v. Russia, No. 43883/02, § 17, 24
19. The Court therefore does not accept that the
applicant was required to exhaust domestic remedies through a further court
action against the bailiff"s service.
20. The Court observes that the
application is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3
of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other
grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
Government stressed that the judgment in the applicant"s favour had been
executed. The delays in the enforcement of the judgment had been caused by
circumstances beyond the bailiff"s control. At the relevant time, the Bailiff"s
Service of the Volgograd Region had had to deal with more than 18,000
enforcement documents concerning recovery of child benefit arrears totalling RUR
22. The applicant maintained her complaints.
Court observes that the judgment of 21 September 1998 remained inoperative for
about two years. No acceptable justification was advanced by the Government for
24. The Court has frequently found violations of Article 6
§ 1 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in cases raising issues
similar to the ones in the present case (see, among other authorities, Burdov v.
Russia, No. 59498/00, ECHR 2002-III and, more recently, Petrushko, cited above,
or Poznakhirina v. Russia, No. 25964/02, 24 February 2005).
examined the material submitted to it, the Court notes that the Government did
not put forward any fact or argument capable of persuading it to reach a
different conclusion in the present case. Having regard to its case-law on the
subject, the Court finds that by failing for two years to comply with the
enforceable judgment in the applicant"s favour the domestic authorities
prevented her from receiving the money she could reasonably have expected to
26. There has accordingly been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of
the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.
II. Application of Article
41 of the Convention
27. Article 41 of the Convention provides:
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."
applicant claimed RUR 100,000 in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary
29. The Government objected to the claim, noting that the
applicant had not initiated any settlement of this issue in domestic courts.
30. The Court notes that the applicant has not submitted any documents
supporting her claim for pecuniary damage. The Court does not discern any causal
link between the violation found and the pecuniary damage alleged; it therefore
rejects this claim.
31. As regards the compensation for non-pecuniary
damage, the Court would not exclude that the applicant might have suffered
distress and frustration resulting from the State authorities" failure to
enforce the judgment in her favour. However, having regard to the nature of the
breach in this case and making its assessment on an equitable basis, the Court
considers that the finding of a violation constitutes in itself sufficient just
satisfaction for any non-pecuniary damage sustained by the applicant (see, in a
similar context, Poznakhirina, cited above, § 35).
FOR THESE REASONS, THE
1. Declares the application admissible;
that there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention;
Holds that there has been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the
4. Dismisses the applicant"s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 17 November 2005, pursuant to Rule
77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.