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20.10.2017 The Russian Constitutional Court found the practice of re-examination of final and binding judicial decisions due to rulings of the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court unconstitutional

On 17 October 2017, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation (hereinafter – RCC) delivered its Judgment No. 24-П in the case concerning the constitutionality of §5(4) of Article 392 the Code of Civil Procedure of the Russian Federation.

The proceedings were initiated by 7 Russian citizens. The final and binding judicial decisions in the applicants’ cases rendered in their favour were quashed based on several rulings of the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (hereinafter – Supreme Court) in similar cases. As a result, social security benefits and services applicants received from the state were have been significantly reduced. Thus, this practice has led to a deterioration of the position of individuals in social insurance relations, which are of public nature, thereby violating their constitutional rights guaranteed by Articles 1 (part 1), 2, 15 (part 2), 17 (part 2), 18, 45 (part 1), 46 (parts 1 and 2), 52, 53, 55, 118 of the Russian Constitution.

In the amicus curiae brief submitted to the RCC, the Institute focused on the analysis of the social and historical context of the Russian courts’ case law in which the rulings of the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court are considered as a new circumstance warranting the re-examination of a final and binding judicial decision.

Analysis conducted by the Institute leads to the following conclusions:

Firstly, final and binding judicial decisions delivered in disputes to which the State is a party are re-examined almost exclusively in favour of state bodies and state-owned legal entities. As a consequence of such review, citizens lose the entitlement to social benefits granted to them previously and face the risk of retrospective recalculation of the judicial award already made.

Secondly, the emerging judicial trend of considering the judgments of the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court as a ground for re-examination of a final and binding judicial decision is not compatible with the Russian Constitution. This practice is a new extraordinary judicial procedure used by state organs and institutions in order to avoid the fulfilment of social obligations that they incur. The quashing of the binding and enforceable decisions does not pursue any legitimate aim. Public interest in the fair distribution of budgetary funds cannot justify retrospective recalculation of social benefits, which were determined in accordance with the final and binding judicial decision.

The RCC ruled in favour of the applicants and recognised that §5(4) of Article 392 the Code of Civil Procedure of the Russian Federation does not allow for a final and binding judicial decision to be quashed due to a change in the interpretation of legal norms in the judgments of the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court in similar cases. According to the Judgment, the federal legislature is entitled to amend the law providing for the possibility of reviewing the final decisions only if the relevant judgment of the Presidium or the ruling of the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court indicates that the legal position formulated therein can be retroactively applied in cases with similar circumstances. Moreover, the federal legislature should prevent deterioration of the situation of citizens in their legal relations with the authorities. The RCC also stressed that the law should provide for a preclusive term during which the submission of applications for the review of final and binding judicial decisions on the grounds of a new circumstance is admissible.

The RCC also found that the judicial decisions in the applicants’ cases are to be reviewed.

The full text of the Judgment No. 24-П (in Russian)

The text of the amicus curiae brief (in Russian)

 

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