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That’s not the way to do it


Zolotareva v Russia (App. No. 15003/04)

With a hat-tip to the Garden Court bulletin, here is a decision of the European Court of Human Rights on the enforcement of an eviction. Ms Zolotareva lived in a municipally owned flat with her son, ex-daughter-in-law and grandchild. She thought that could no longer all live together (I refer you to the “ex” in the last sentence and possibly also the “in-law”) and commenced proceedings for the eviction of her son’s ex-wife. She in turn counter-claimed, asking the court to order that they all get rehoused elsewhere.

The court sided with the ex-wife and ordered not only that she and her son (the grandchild, do keep up) should be housed elsewhere, but that Ms Zolotareva and her son should be housed in a different property. The Zolotareva’s flat was assigned to another family. After an appeal was dismissed the bailiff put enforcement proceedings in motion.

Meanwhile, Ms Zolotareva appealed to the Russian Supreme Court. A judge noted that the eviction should be stayed.

Despite this, the eviction went ahead. It clearly took some time and finished at 1:30am. Russian law only allows evictions to be carried out between 6am and 10pm on working days, unless there is an imminent risk to life or health, in which case eviction can be carried out outside those hours provided that it is approved by a superior officer. No approval had been obtained.

Ms Zolotareva then started a new claim, in which the court held that she had been unlawfully evicted. She then started another claim for damages. That claim was rejected for a lack of evidence demonstrating either special or general damages.

Next stop was the ECtHR, claiming breaches of Articles 3, 5, 6, 8, 13 and A1P1. The court dealt first with the Article 8 claim, that is whether the eviction (which Russia accepted was an interference with her Article 8 rights) was in accordance with the law.

Given that the domestic courts had already said that it wasn’t, you would have thought that this would be a bit of a no-brainer. And so it proved. There was no reason to depart from the domestic court’s findings – the eviction was not in accordance with the law as it was outside of the permitted hours and enforcement of the judgment had been stayed.

The alleged breaches of the other ECHR provisions were rejected as manifestly ill-founded and the ECtHR awarded €5,000 non-pecuniary damages.

Seems a fairly obvious result really. Unless Russia has loads of these, and perhaps it does, it seems slightly surprising that they didn’t try and buy her off. Then again, her claim was for the equivalent of around a quarter of a million pounds, so perhaps there wasn’t really a deal to be done.

chief is a barrister in the big city. he specialises in public law, landlord & tenant, football and rock 'n' roll (the last two are only when his clerks aren't watching). he sometimes pops by here, but not as often as he'd like. he will occasionally eschew capital letters. the reasons for this odd affectation are lost in the mists of time.


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