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On 27 September 2021, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation published Judgement No. 41-П/2021 adopted in accordance with Article 47.1 of the Federal Constitutional Law “On the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation”

On 27 September 2021, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation prohibited illegitimate lowering of compensation amount for legal assistance expenses in remedying harm inflicted by unlawful criminal prosecution. The case on the review of constitutionality of Article 135, part one, item 4; Article 4016, part one, item 4, and Article 40110, part two, item 1 of the Criminal Procedural Code of the Russian Federation (CCP RF) was considered in connection with the complaint of citizen A.Atroschenko. The Judgement is based on the previously expressed legal positions of the Court.

Factual Background

Over two years, the criminal case initiated in 2014 in respect of A.Atroschenko (resident of Primorsk region) was twice returned to the inquiry officer by the prosecutor for additional inquiry, and then twice returned to the prosecutor by the lay judge for elimination of violations. The case was ultimately discontinued due to lack of corpus delicti, and the applicant was afforded the right to rehabilitation. In 2017 the court granted his compensation claims for pecuniary damage inflicted by unlawful criminal prosecution. Subsequently, the prosecutor quashed the decision to terminate the case, which resulted in cancellation of judicial decision on compensation. Prosecutor’s decision was recognised unlawful by court, and then A.Atroschenko once again thought compensation in court, which granted him more than 1 million 300 thousand roubles. The rehabilitated obtained this compensation, but later he was obliged to return 900 thousand roubles to the state. The applicant believed that challenged norms of the CCP RF allow worsening the situation of the rehabilitated after the court judgement awarding compensation becomes final.

 

Position of the Court

Guarantees of adequate compensation for inflicted damage must be ensured for victims of unlawful criminal prosecution.

The CCP RF does not provide for special rules allowing courts to decide arbitrarily on diminishing such compensation amount. The large amount of expenses must not lead to limitation of rights of a rehabilitated person. The compensation amount must not be diminished if the rehabilitated person had made monthly or quarterly payments for legal assistance rendered to him over a long period of time, all the more so if such assistance is conditioned by lengthy criminal prosecution. All expenses must be compensated if they are “in causal link with rendered legal assistance”. Article 135, part one, item 4 of the CCP RF does not allow for refusal to fully compensate damage if good faith of claims of a rehabilitated person was not discredited.

Nobody can be left under threat of burdensome losses for indefinite period of time; this is certainly true for a rehabilitated person who suffered from actions of the state. The reasonable time-limits for cassation court to make a decision worsening the situation of a rehabilitated person are binding, as follows from provisions of Article 4016 of the CCP RF. Yet, the law enforcement practice, as in the case of A.Atroschenko, these provisions do not prevent cassation courts to quash decisions of lower courts on damage compensation outside one-year time-limit from a judicial act becoming final. Where its interpretation results in such consequences, Article 4016 of the CCP RF is in contravention with the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

Judicial acts in the case of A.Atroschenko delivered under Article 4016 and Article 135, part one, item 4 of the CCP RF shall be subject to review.

Proceedings in the case on the review of constitutionality of Article 40110, part two, item 1 of the CCP RF have been discontinued.

 

Press Service of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation

27 September 2021



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