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"Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie" (Comparative Constitutional Review) Journal

№2(129) 2019

Access to constitutional justice in Russia and Germany

Elena Gritsenko - Doctor of Sciences in Law, Professor, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russia; Rosemarie Will - Doctor of Sciences in Law, Professor (emeritus), Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany 

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2019-2-51-78

Abstract. Access to the courts is a multidimensional category. In addition to the guarantee of “judicial due process of law”, it covers the conditions for the operation of the courts, as well as other phenomena beyond legal categories that are the background for judicial decision-making. Access to judicial protection by means of constitutional legal proceedings is not a mandatory element of an internationally recognized guarantee of access to court. At the same time, ensuring such access in national legal orders expands the possibilities of individual protection of fundamental rights, including the rights and freedoms of humans and citizens. This article offers a comparative analysis of the constitutional foundations of access to court and to constitutional justice in Germany and Russia. The main idea of such a comparison is to see how universal problems are solved in various framework conditions, through the prism of the experience of others, to understand and critically assess the achievements of constitutional justice and to conclude the challenges to it. The report also examines how the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany and the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation understand basic rights or, respectively, the rights and freedoms of humans and citizens as a subject matter of constitutional protection and how these interpretations affect access to justice. The question is raised about the constitutional nature and significance of the individual constitutional complaints in Germany and complaints about the violation of constitutional rights in Russia. The article provides the content of the right to appeal to the constitutional court as an element of the right to judicial protection in both the German and Russian legal orders. Special attention is paid to the organizational and procedural problems of access to constitutional judicial protection, including the adoption procedure, the problem of court overload, and options for solving these problems in the legal systems of Germany and Russia. The authors conclude that the acceptance of adoption procedures for complaints in the German Federal Constitutional Court Act does not solve the problem of the huge workload of the Court, but creates additional obstacles to improving access to constitutional justice because it is carried out inside the apparatus of the FCC and is not transparent. Only the free adoption procedure of constitutional complaints will contribute to the function of basic rights to ensure democracy. The Russian Constitutional Court seems to be more successfully coping with the problem of excessive workload. However, the broad discretion of the Court and its Secretariat in determining admissible and inadmissible complaints has not yet been accompanied by the necessary clear criteria. As a result, cases of applying different grounds for refusing to accept an appeal for consideration in similar situations are not excluded. Addressing the current uncertainty requires improving not only the criteria for admissibility and validity of complaints, but also the powers of the Secretariat to verify compliance with the criteria for admissibility of complaints.

Keywords: access to justice; constitutional justice; basic rights; constitutional complaint; operational capacity of the constitutional court.

Citation: Gritsenko E., Will R. (2019) Dostup k konstitutsionnomu pravosudiyu v Rossii i Germanii [Access to constitutional justice in Russia and Germany]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 51–78. (In Russian).

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