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|2. Постановление Пленума Верховного Суда РФ от 20 декабря 1994 г. N 10 "Некоторые вопросы применения законодательства о компенса|
3. Постановление Пленума Верховного Суда РФ от 24 августа 1993 г.
Case of dombo beheer b.v. v. the netherlands
I. the circumstances of the case
I. alleged violation of article 6 of the convention
1. Учитывая, что вопросы компенсации морального вреда в сфере гражданских правоотношений регулируются рядом законодательных актов, введенных в действие в разные сроки, суду в целях обеспечения правильного и своевременного разрешения возникшего спора необходимо по каждому делу выяснять характер взаимоотношений сторон и какими правовыми нормами они регулируются, допускает ли законодательство возможность компенсации морального вреда по данному виду правоотношений и, если такая ответственность установлена, - когда вступил в силу законодательный акт, предусматривающий условия и порядок компенсации вреда в этих случаях, а также когда были совершены действия, повлекшие причинение морального вреда.
Суду необходимо также выяснить, чем подтверждается факт причинения потерпевшему нравственных или физических страданий, при каких обстоятельствах и какими действиями (бездействием) они нанесены, степень вины причинителя, какие нравственные или физические страдания перенесены потерпевшим, в какой сумме или иной материальной форме он оценивает их компенсацию и другие обстоятельства, имеющие значение для разрешения конкретного спора.
2. Под моральным вредом понимаются нравственные или физические страдания, причиненные действиями (бездействием), посягающими на принадлежащие гражданину от рождения или в силу закона нематериальные блага (жизнь, здоровье, достоинство личности, деловая репутация, неприкосновенность частной жизни, личная и семейная тайна и т.п.) или нарушающими его личные неимущественные права (право на пользование своим именем, право авторства и другие неимущественные права в соответствии с законами об охране прав на результаты интеллектуальной деятельности) либо нарушающими имущественные права гражданина.
Моральный вред, в частности, может заключаться в нравственных переживаниях в связи с утратой родственников, невозможностью продолжать активную общественную жизнь, потерей работы, раскрытием семейной, врачебной тайны, распространением не соответствующих действительности сведений, порочащих честь, достоинство или деловую репутацию гражданина, временным ограничением или лишением каких-либо прав, физической болью, связанной с причиненным увечьем, иным повреждением здоровья либо в связи с заболеванием, перенесенным в результате нравственных страданий и др.
3. В соответствии с действующим законодательством одним из обязательных условий наступления ответственности за причинение морального вреда является вина причинителя. Исключение составляют случаи, прямо предусмотренные законом. Например, когда:
вред причинен жизни или здоровью гражданина источником повышенной опасности;
вред причинен гражданину в результате его незаконного осуждения, незаконного применения в качестве меры пресечения заключения под стражу или подписки о невыезде, незаконного наложения административного взыскания в виде ареста или исправительных работ;
вред причинен распространением сведений, порочащих честь, достоинство и деловую репутацию (ст. 1100 второй части ГК РФ, введенной в действие с 1 марта 1996 г.).
N 8 "О некоторых вопросах применения судами Закона Российской Федерации "О приватизации жилищного фонда в Российской Федерации"
8. Исходя из смысла преамбулы и ст. ст. 1, 2 Закона Российской Федерации "О приватизации жилищного фонда в Российской Федерации", гражданам не может быть отказано в приватизации занимаемых ими жилых помещений на предусмотренных этим Законом условиях, если они обратились с таким требованием.
При этом необходимо учитывать, что соблюдение установленного ст.ст. 7, 8 названного Закона порядка оформления передачи жилья обязательно как для граждан, так и для должностных лиц, на которых возложена обязанность по передаче жилых помещений в государственном и муниципальном жилищном фонде в собственность граждан (в частности, вопрос о приватизации должен быть решен в двухмесячный срок, заключен договор на передачу жилья в собственность, подлежащий регистрации местной администрацией, со времени совершения которой и возникает право собственности гражданина на жилое помещение).
Однако если гражданин, подавший заявление о приватизации и необходимые для этого документы, умер до оформления договора на передачу жилого помещения в собственность или до регистрации такого договора местной администрацией, то в случае возникновения спора по поводу включения этого жилого помещения или его части в наследственную массу, необходимо иметь в виду, что указанное обстоятельство само по себе не может служить основанием к отказу в удовлетворении требования наследника, если наследодатель, выразив при жизни волю на приватизацию занимаемого жилого помещения, не отозвал свое заявление, поскольку по не зависящим от него причинам был лишен возможности соблюсти все правила оформления документов на приватизацию, в которой ему не могло быть отказано.
III. «Прецедентные» решения Европейского Суда по правам человека (Извлечения)
Правовые позиции ЕСПЧ:
1. «В судебных процессах, где сталкиваются противоположные частные интересы, это «равенство сторон» предполагает, что каждая сторона должна иметь разумную возможность представить свое дело – включая доказательства – в условиях, в которых ни одна из сторон не имеет явного преимущества». Дело Dombo Beheer B.V., 33.
(Application no. 37/1992/382/460)
23 April and
22 September 1993,
AS TO THE FACTS
I. The particular circumstances of the case
7. The applicant (hereinafter "Dombo") is a limited
liability company under Netherlands law; it is the continuation
of a public limited company (naamloze vennootschap) originally
founded in 1958. It has its registered office in Nijmegen. At
the material time, its business included holding shares in
several other companies, for which it provided management; these
subsidiary companies engaged in commercial activities. The
shares in Dombo were held by a foundation (stichting) which
issued certificates of shares; these were apparently all held by
a Mr H.C. van Reijendam.
The company's management also included Mr van Reijendam;
he was the sole managing director from 1963 until his dismissal
(see paragraph 15 below), except for a short period between
4 February 1981 and 23 March 1981 during which he was suspended
as managing director and temporarily replaced by a Mr C.U. and
a Mrs van L.
8. At the material time, Dombo banked with the Nederlandsche
Middenstandsbank N.V. (hereinafter "the Bank") through its branch
office in Nijmegen. The manager of that office was a Mr van W.;
under the Bank's company statutes his position was not that of
managing director of the Bank itself and his powers to represent
the Bank, which included allowing credit up to a certain maximum,
were strictly circumscribed.
An agreement existed between Dombo and the Bank under
which Dombo and its subsidiaries enjoyed credit in current
account, i.e. the possibility of overdrawing on accounts held
with the Bank. In August 1980 this credit facility amounted to
500,000 Netherlands guilders (NLG), with an additional temporary
overdraft facility of up to NLG 250,000. This agreement had been
formalised in a written confirmation of an oral agreement to that
effect and in a contract dated 11 August 1980 under which the
Bank opened a joint account (compte-jointovereenkomst) in the
name of Dombo and its subsidiaries, who assumed responsibility
jointly and severally for meeting their obligations to the Bank.
9. A dispute arose between Dombo and the Bank concerning the
development of their financial relationship during the period
between December 1980 and February 1981. In the ensuing civil
proceedings both parties gave renderings of the facts which
differed materially on significant points.
10. Dombo's account may be summarised as follows.
(a) In early December 1980 the Bank, through the manager of
its Nijmegen branch, Mr van W., agreed orally to raise the
maximum of the credit available to Dombo by NLG 1,600,000 to a
total of NLG 2,100,000. As Mr van Reijendam had explained to
Mr van W., Dombo required this extension to take over the
commercial operations of a certain limited liability company, O.,
which had gone bankrupt; action was needed urgently. This oral
agreement was to be formalised later; at this point, however,
Mr van Reijendam did agree in writing to stand surety himself for
Dombo and its subsidiaries to the amount of NLG 350,000.
Following this alteration of the agreement of 11 August 1980
Dombo opened an account with the Bank earmarked for its
activities in connection with the O. takeover and the Bank
provided letters of credit on a number of occasions.
(b) In early January 1981 Dombo was offered the opportunity
to take over two other limited liability companies, T. and D.,
which had run into financial difficulties. To finance these
takeovers Dombo required another extension of the credit limit;
this was discussed between Mr van Reijendam and Mr van W.
Following these discussions the Bank made Dombo an offer in
writing dated 22 January 1981 to raise the maximum credit to
NLG 5,000,000. In anticipation of this extension, the Bank paid
out NLG 350,000 in connection with the takeover of T. and D. and
subsequently agreed to a withdrawal by Mr van Reijendam of
another NLG 100,000 for the same purpose. Mr van W. required
security for these sums in the form of a mortgage and made
Mr van Reijendam sign a blank power of attorney. The Bank made
use of that document to have a deed drawn up by a notary
mortgaging all immovable property belonging to Dombo, its
subsidiaries and Mr van Reijendam personally. This mortgage was
surety for a credit of NLG 1,600,000, i.e. it further secured the
extension of the credit referred to in sub-paragraph (a) above.
(c) On 28 January 1981 the Bank, through Mr van W.,
unexpectedly and inexplicably withdrew its confidence in
Mr van Reijendam, called on him to resign and froze all Dombo's
accounts without warning, this in spite of the fact that its
total debit balance was then NLG 783,436.06 and therefore well
within the agreed limit of NLG 2,100,000.
11. The Bank's rendering of the facts may be summarised as
(a) The Bank acknowledged that Dombo had asked for a higher
credit limit in connection with the takeover of the commercial
activities of the company O. It had agreed in principle but had
required certain additional information to be provided by Dombo,
including its annual statement for the previous year (1979);
these had never been received and an agreement to raise the
existing credit facilities as claimed by Dombo had therefore
never been reached. However, in connection with the takeover of
the activities of the O. company (which it approved of in
principle) and the urgent need for funds, the Bank had been
prepared to enable Dombo to act in anticipation of the extension
of the credit facilities by providing letters of credit on a
number of occasions. Mr van Reijendam had been asked to stand
surety for these himself to the amount of NLG 350,000. By the
end of January 1981 the sum for which the Bank had bound itself
amounted to NLG 848,000. The Bank pointed out that there was a
difference between a letter of credit and a credit under a
current account agreement; the former implied only occasional and
short-term risk, whereas the latter involved more permanent,
(b) The Bank acknowledged also the second request for an
extension of the credit facilities for the takeover of the
companies T. and D. In this connection, Mr van Reijendam had
indicated that others would stand surety for at least
NLG 2,000,000. Relying on that statement, the Bank had written
to Dombo on 22 January 1981 that it agreed in principle to an
extension of the credit facilities to NLG 5,000,000, subject
however to certain conditions regarding annual statements and
securities. No annual statements had been forthcoming, nor any
securities either, and so the Bank had written to Dombo on
19 March 1981 withdrawing the offer.
The Bank acknowledged the transfer of NLG 350,000 but
denied having been aware of the purpose for which that sum was
intended. It claimed that Mr van Reijendam had misled it in this
regard. This also applied to the withdrawal of the NLG 100,000.
The Bank had referred to this deception in its letter of
19 March 1981 and stated that in consequence it would annul the
credit agreement (which it had nevertheless continued to honour)
if Mr van Reijendam were to take up his position as manager of
Dombo again (see sub-paragraph (c) below).
The Bank claimed that it had required the mortgages as
surety for the letters of credit referred to in sub-paragraph (a)
above and the withdrawal of the above-mentioned sums of
NLG 350,000 and 100,000. The mortgages had been established
under a power of attorney drawn up by a notary who - as the
document itself showed - had read it aloud before Mr van
Reijendam signed it. The Bank denied that there had been a blank
power of attorney.
(c) The Bank denied categorically that it had frozen Dombo's
accounts on 28 January 1981. In any case, withdrawals from these
accounts had by then exceeded the agreed maximum of NLG 750,000,
the balance being NLG 784,657.75 in debit. It had, however, made
it clear that it no longer had confidence in Mr van Reijendam
after the above-mentioned deception had come to light. The
Bank's doubts concerning his suitability to continue managing
Dombo were later confirmed when Mr van Reijendam was suspended
as managing director with effect from 4 February 1981 and shortly
afterwards committed to a mental institution under a court order.
During the period from 4 February 1981 until 23 March 1981 the
Bank continued its dealings with Dombo under different
management, consisting of Mr C.U. and Mrs van L. It continued
to allow credit to finance the activities taken over from
the O. company. After Mr van Reijendam's return the Bank had
allowed Dombo every opportunity to reduce its debt; when it
became clear that Mr van Reijendam was not prepared to do so, it
had annulled the credit agreement with effect from
30 October 1981. Only then had it frozen the accounts.
II. Proceedings in domestic courts
12. On 11 March 1983, pursuant to a court order which it had
obtained for that purpose, Dombo seized certain moneys which it
still owed to the Bank and summoned the Bank before the Arnhem
Regional Court (arrondissementsrechtbank), claiming financial
compensation for the damage caused by the Bank's alleged failure
to honour its commitments.
13. After extensive argument in writing - in which each party
presented written pleadings three times and produced a
considerable number of documents and Dombo offered to produce
witnesses (in particular the managing directors, Mr C.U. and
Mrs van L., who had temporarily replaced Mr van Reijendam, to
prove that there had been negotiations at that time to raise the
credit limit from NLG 2,100,000 to NLG 2,600,000) - the Regional
Court delivered an interlocutory judgment on 2 February 1984
allowing Dombo to call witnesses to prove, firstly, that the Bank
had frozen Dombo's accounts on 28 January 1981 and, secondly,
that the existing credit arrangements had been extended by
NLG 1,600,000 in December 1980. In addition, it ordered the
appearance in person (comparitie) before one of its judges of
representatives of Dombo and the Bank able to give information
and empowered to agree to a friendly settlement.
14. The Bank appealed against this interlocutory judgment to
the Arnhem Court of Appeal (gerechtshof), arguing that Dombo's
claim should have been dismissed out of hand. According to the
Bank, Dombo had abandoned the original basis of its claim, and
the basis which it had in the meanwhile adopted for it obviously
could not support it. Besides, Dombo had no interest in the
claim and the Regional Court's requirement of evidence was in any
case too vague and one-sided.
After both parties had submitted a written statement and
produced new documents and, through their lawyers, pleaded their
cases orally (Dombo repeating its offer to provide evidence), the
Court of Appeal, in a judgment of 8 January 1985, refused to
accept the Bank's arguments and confirmed the judgment of the
At the request of both parties, the Court of Appeal did
not refer the case back to the Regional Court but proceeded to
deal with the case itself. Accordingly, it ordered the hearing
of witnesses to go ahead on 13 February 1985 before one of its
own judges, Mr van E., but reserved the decision on the date of
the personal appearance of the parties' representatives until the
witnesses had been heard.
15. Dombo called a number of witnesses, including
Mr van Reijendam. Producing the minutes of a shareholders'
meeting dated 29 June 1984, it claimed that Mr van Reijendam had
been dismissed as managing director for reason of "lack of
funds". It further produced a document from which it appeared
that Mr van Reijendam had been registered as an unemployed person
seeking employment on 27 November 1984 and an extract from the
commercial register from which it appeared that another person
had been appointed managing director of Dombo on
10 December 1984.
16. The Bank objected to Mr van Reijendam being heard. It
based this objection on the rule that a party to the proceedings
could not himself be heard as a witness (see paragraphs 23 and
25-26 below). It claimed that Mr van Reijendam's dismissal did
not reflect the true state of affairs but had been effected only
to enable him to testify.
In a judgment of 12 February 1985 Judge Van E. upheld
this objection and refused to hear Mr van Reijendam. He had
become convinced that both Mr van Reijendam's dismissal as
managing director of Dombo and the appointment in his place of
another person were shams (schijnhandelingen) which served no
other purpose than to enable Mr van Reijendam to testify in the
instant proceedings. He pointed out that Mr van Reijendam had
been present at the oral pleadings before the Court of Appeal on
30 October 1984 and had not protested when Dombo's lawyer
referred to him as Dombo's managing director. He added that in
his view the motives alleged for the dismissal were implausible.
The other six witnesses produced by Dombo were heard on
13 and 20 February 1985. One of them, Mr C.U., was heard on both
dates. This witness had been Dombo's financial affairs manager
from the middle of 1977 until May 1980 and had since retained
links with Dombo as an external adviser. During November and
December 1980 he had "been very closely involved" with the
running of Dombo and this had led to his appointment as statutory
managing director after the suspension of Mr van Reijendam on
4 February 1981 (see paragraph 11, sub-paragraph (c), above).
On 13 February Mr C.U. stated, inter alia, that he had been
present at several meetings of the parties between November 1980
and 28 January 1981 and that, although he could not recall the
exact words used, he had heard Mr van W. say something like,
"Then for the time being we will take a credit of NLG 1,600,000
as a starting-point". When examined for the second time at
Dombo's request, he corrected his statement to the extent that
besides the original credit facility of NLG 500,000 a new
facility had been agreed to the amount of NLG 1,600,000 in
connection with takeovers (mainly of the activities of the
O. company, a small part being intended for the takeover of the
T. company). There had been several discussions, in which this
witness had taken part, about the amount to which the credit was
to be extended.
17. In the exercise of its right to have its own witnesses
heard in reply (contra-enquête), the Bank called two of its
employees, one of whom was the manager of its Nijmegen branch
office, Mr van W.
Dombo objected to the hearing of Mr van W., stating the
view that at all stages of the credit relationship, and also in
the instant proceedings, he had been and remained the formal
representative of the Bank; to hear him as a witness at this
point, when Mr van Reijendam had not been so heard, would upset
the fair balance that should exist between parties in civil
18. By a decision delivered orally on 13 March 1985
Judge Van E. dismissed Dombo's objection. He considered first
and foremost that Mr van W. was a competent witness in the
instant case since he was not a party to the proceedings either
formally or in fact and went on to state that it could not follow
from the fact that Dombo was put at a disadvantage because
Mr van Reijendam was not heard as a witness while Mr van W. was
so heard that Mr van W. was no longer a competent witness.
The Court of Appeal judge proceeded to hear the Bank's
After the witnesses had been examined, both parties
submitted extensive written pleadings in which they analysed the
witnesses' statements. Dombo submitted a large number of
additional documents, including written statements by persons not
heard as witnesses; the Bank also submitted further documents.
Dombo then submitted pleadings in response to those of the Bank.
19. The Court of Appeal delivered its final judgment on
11 March 1986. It first examined the witnesses' statements in
detail. As far as the statements of the witness Mr C.U. were
concerned (see paragraph 16 above), it observed that these
contradicted each other on a significant point, namely the figure
to which it had been agreed to extend the credit facility, and
added that this discrepancy, for which no explanation had been
given, adversely affected the convincingness of the statements
of this witness. The Court of Appeal then examined a number of
written depositions submitted by Dombo. Two of these were
rejected because they were not signed. With regard to a
deposition signed by Mr van Reijendam, the Court attributed the
same value to it as to a statement made by Dombo itself.
The Court of Appeal went on to hold:
"The Court of Appeal is of the opinion that the evidence
required from Dombo has not been provided. The
statements of the witnesses [D., H. and O.] are not
definite enough for this purpose and the statement of
[C.U.] and the notarial statement made by [S.] - whose
experience, as considered, dates only from after
12 May 1981 - are contradicted by those of the witnesses
[Van W. and K.]. The fact that no written evidence is
available of such an important agreement as that referred
to by Dombo, as would normally be expected, compels the
Court of Appeal to take a strict view of the evidence,
and this should also be taken into account.
It was established during the proceedings that between
December 1980 and January 1981 the [Bank] in effect
consented to extend the credit facilities to Dombo in
various forms in larger amounts than Dombo was entitled
to by virtue of any written agreement, but this does not
necessarily mean that Dombo was entitled to the credit
facilities for that reason alone, in the sense that the
[Bank] would not be justified in applying a kind of
temporary embargo on the facilities for reasons of its
own. Although the ease with which the [Bank] allowed
[Dombo] to exceed considerably the credit limit
officially in force provides food for thought, it can be
explained by the negotiations between the parties, which
came to light during the proceedings, concerning the
establishment of a substantially higher credit limit, in
which - as was also common ground between the parties -
the sum of NLG 2,600,000 was mentioned.
It is clear from the statement of the witness
[Van W.] - and Dombo did not contest this again after the
examination of that witness - that at the end of January
1981 the then managing director of Dombo, by misleading
the witness, twice succeeded in drawing considerable sums
over and above what was already to be regarded as
officially a substantial overdraft on Dombo's
consolidated accounts. This amount could reasonably
provide the [Bank] with grounds for temporarily 'shutting
off the flow of credit' to Dombo."
The Court of Appeal further held that since the agreement
had not been proved, it was not necessary to examine the question
whether the Bank had in fact frozen Dombo's accounts in breach
of it and it went on to dismiss Dombo's claim.
20. In June 1986 Dombo filed an appeal on points of law
(cassatie) to the Supreme Court (Hoge Raad). Paragraph 2 of its
(quite extensive) statement of grounds of appeal (middel van
cassatie) was particularly directed against Judge Van E.'s
decisions to uphold the objections to hearing Mr van Reijendam
as a witness for Dombo and reject those against hearing
Mr van W. as a witness for the Bank. This paragraph argued,
"Furthermore, the decisions of the Court of Appeal,
(also) if considered in relation to one another, are
incorrect in view of Article 6 (art. 6) of the
[Convention], which guarantees everyone a fair hearing of
his case in the determination of his civil rights and
obligations. After all, this provision implies (inter
alia) that the parties should be able to fight each other
with equal means ('equality of arms') and that every
party to civil proceedings should have the opportunity to
present his case to the court in circumstances which do
not place him at a substantial disadvantage vis-à-vis the
21. The Advocate-General (advocaat-generaal), in her advisory
opinion (conclusie) of 8 January 1988, formulated the opinion
that Dombo was right to argue that "according to current legal
opinion" a person who "could be identified with a party" should
be allowed to testify. In support of this view she referred to
the new law of evidence in civil procedure, which had by then
been accepted by Parliament (see paragraph 27 below). As an
additional argument in favour of this proposition she pointed to
Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1) of the Convention, on which Dombo
could in her view properly rely. In this connection she argued,
"In the present case the point was that [Mr van W.] was
able to present his view of what was (or was not, as the
case may be) agreed or discussed between himself and
Mr van Reijendam in December 1980 to the court
extensively (his statement comprises four pages in the
official record and two pages in the judgment of the
Court of Appeal), while Mr van Reijendam was not allowed
to give his version of the events himself. Yet the
success of Dombo's action depended on that."
She went on to advise allowing Dombo's appeal.
22. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on
19 February 1988. It rejected Dombo's arguments based on
"current legal opinion", considering that the law of evidence in
force was based on the exclusion of parties as witnesses in their
own case so that it was not possible to anticipate the entry into
force of the new law, which had an entirely different structure.
It likewise rejected the complaint based on Article 6 para. 1
(art. 6-1) of the Convention; this was based, according to the
Supreme Court, on the argument that the Court of Appeal had
violated the principle that "the procedural rights of both
parties should be equivalent". This line of argument, in the
opinion of the Supreme Court,
"... fails to recognise that in assessing the
convincingness of the content of witnesses' statements,
the judge with competence to determine questions of fact
is free to consider the nature and degree of involvement
of a witness with a party in proceedings and that he must
also judge a witness's statement in the light of what the
opposing party has put forward in its written pleadings
or when appearing before the court in person".
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 PARA. 1 (art. 6-1)
30. The applicant company complained about the refusal by the
national courts to allow its former managing director,
Mr van Reijendam, to give evidence, whereas the branch manager
of the Bank, Mr van W., who had been the only other person
present when the oral agreement was entered into, had been able
to testify. In its contention, the national courts had thereby
failed to observe the principle of "equality of arms", in breach
of its right to a "fair hearing" as guaranteed by
Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1), which reads:
"In the determination of his civil rights and obligations
..., everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing ..."
This view was subscribed to by the Commission but
contested by the Government.
31. The Court notes at the outset that it is not called upon
to rule in general whether it is permissible to exclude the
evidence of a person in civil proceedings to which he is a party.
Nor is it called upon to examine the Netherlands law of
evidence in civil procedure in abstracto. The applicant company
does not claim that the law itself was in violation of the
Convention; besides, the law under which the decisions complained
of were given has since been replaced. In any event, the
competence of witnesses is primarily governed by national law
(see, as recent authorities and mutatis mutandis, the Lüdi v.
Switzerland judgment of 15 June 1992, Series A no. 238, p. 20,
para. 43, and the Schuler-Zgraggen v. Switzerland judgment
of 24 June 1993, Series A no. 263, p. 21, para. 66).
It is not within the province of the Court to substitute
its own assessment of the facts for that of the national courts.
The Court's task is to ascertain whether the proceedings in their
entirety, including the way in which evidence was permitted, were
"fair" within the meaning of Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1) (see,
inter alia and mutatis mutandis, the judgments referred to above,
32. The requirements inherent in the concept of "fair
hearing" are not necessarily the same in cases concerning the
determination of civil rights and obligations as they are in
cases concerning the determination of a criminal charge. This
is borne out by the absence of detailed provisions such as
paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 6 (art. 6-2, art. 6-3) applying to
cases of the former category. Thus, although these provisions
have a certain relevance outside the strict confines of criminal
law (see, mutatis mutandis, the Albert and Le Compte v. Belgium
judgment of 10 February 1983, Series A no. 58, p. 20, para. 39),
the Contracting States have greater latitude when dealing with
civil cases concerning civil rights and obligations than they
have when dealing with criminal cases.
33. Nevertheless, certain principles concerning the notion of
a "fair hearing" in cases concerning civil rights and obligations
emerge from the Court's case-law. Most significantly for the
present case, it is clear that the requirement of "equality of
arms", in the sense of a "fair balance" between the parties,
applies in principle to such cases as well as to criminal cases
(see the Feldbrugge v. the Netherlands judgment of 26 May 1986,
Series A no. 99, p. 17, para. 44).
The Court agrees with the Commission that as regards
litigation involving opposing private interests, "equality of
arms" implies that each party must be afforded a reasonable
opportunity to present his case - including his evidence - under
conditions that do not place him at a substantial disadvantage
vis-à-vis his opponent.
It is left to the national authorities to ensure in each
individual case that the requirements of a "fair hearing" are
34. In the instant case, it was incumbent upon the applicant
company to prove that there was an oral agreement between it and
the Bank to extend certain credit facilities. Only two persons
had been present at the meeting at which this agreement had
allegedly been reached, namely Mr van Reijendam representing the
applicant company and Mr van W. representing the Bank. Yet only
one of these two key persons was permitted to be heard, namely
the person who had represented the Bank. The applicant company
was denied the possibility of calling the person who had
represented it, because the Court of Appeal identified him with
the applicant company itself.
35. During the relevant negotiations Mr van Reijendam and
Mr van W. acted on an equal footing, both being empowered to
negotiate on behalf of their respective parties. It is therefore
difficult to see why they should not both have been allowed to
The applicant company was thus placed at a substantial
disadvantage vis-à-vis the Bank and there has accordingly been
a violation of Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1).
2. «Именно защита должна оценивать, заслуживают ли замечания ответа, и нельзя допустить, чтобы сторона представляла замечания без ведома другой стороны и без возможности для этой последней ответить на них». Дело Uldozotteinek Szovetsege et al., 42.
CASE OF APEH ÜLDÖZÖTTEINEK SZÖVETSÉGE AND OTHERS v. HUNGARY
(Application no. 32367/96)
1. APEH Üldözötteinek Szövetsége (Alliance of APEH's Persecutees) is an unregistered association with its head office in Budapest. APEH is the commonly used abbreviation for the Hungarian Tax Authority (Adó- és Pénzügyi Ellenőrzési Hivatal – “APEH”).
Mr Iványi, born in 1950 and residing in Nyíregyháza, Hungary, is a manager and a vice-president of the applicant association. Mr Róth, born in 1943 and residing in Budapest, is a lawyer and a vice-president of the applicant association. Mr Szerdahelyi, born in 1943 and residing in Budapest, is a free-lance writer and the president of the applicant association.
2. In May 1993 several private persons, among others Mr Iványi, Mr Róth and Mr Szerdahelyi, founded the applicant association. Its articles of association, dated 28 May 1993, state that the purpose of the association is, in particular, to promote the general interests of Hungarian taxpayers.
3. On 3 June 1993 the President of APEH, having learnt about the founding of the applicant association from the press, complained to the Budapest public prosecutor and the President of the Budapest Regional Court that the choice of name was defamatory for APEH. He requested that particular attention be paid to the proceedings concerning the association's registration and that his office have access to the documents relating to the proceedings. These letters of the President of APEH reached the addressees on 7 June 1993, but were not communicated to the applicants in the subsequent non-contentious proceedings aiming at the applicant association's registration.
4. On 18 June 1993 Mr Szerdahelyi requested the Budapest Regional Court to register the applicant association.
5. On 28 June 1993 the Regional Court returned the request for registration, ordering that APEH's approval for the use of its name be obtained, that the expression “persecutees” in the applicant association's name be altered to a neutral term and that provisions regulating the method of voting within the applicant association's bodies be added to its articles of association.
APEH obtained a copy of this order from the Regional Court before it was served on the applicants and, in a television programme on 9 August 1993, its spokesman presented it.
6. By a letter dated 2 July 1993 the public prosecutor's office intervened in the registration proceedings under Article 2/A § 1 of Law no. 3 of 1952 on the Code of Civil Procedure (“the Code of Civil Procedure”). The Regional Court received this letter on 8 July 1993. The applicants were not notified of this intervention.
7. Following some delays in the service of the order of 28 June 1993, the applicants submitted their reply to the Regional Court on
17 September 1993. They refused to obtain APEH's approval for the use of its name or to alter the impugned expression. Moreover, they stated that the information on the method of voting by the applicant association's bodies was available from their original submissions requesting the registration.
Simultaneously, the applicants challenged the judge in charge of the case, as well as the entire Regional Court, for bias on the ground that, inter alia, they had not been informed about the intervention by the public prosecutor's office in the registration proceedings.
8. On 13 December 1993 the Supreme Court dismissed the applicants' challenge for bias. The Supreme Court found that the Regional Court's procedure had been in compliance with the relevant legal provisions and there was nothing to support the applicants' allegations as to any bias on the part of the Regional Court.
9. On 24 January 1994 the public prosecutor's office proposed to the Regional Court that the applicant association's request for registration be rejected, as the association had not met the requirements in the court order of 28 June 1993. This submission was received by the Regional Court on
25 January and was ordered to be sent to the applicants on 28 January 1994.
10. In their submissions dated 7 January, but filed with the Regional Court only on 8 February 1994, the applicants confirmed that they had meanwhile adopted an amendment to the articles of association, reflecting the Regional Court's requirements as to the voting methods. Moreover, they argued that the requirement that they seek APEH's approval for the use of its name was legally “absurd”.
11. On 10 February 1994 the Regional Court rejected the applicant association's request for registration. It observed that the applicants had not obtained APEH's approval for the use of its name. In this respect, the Regional Court relied on section 7(1) of Law no. 2 of 1989 on freedom of association (“the Associations Act 1989”), according to which the name of an association should not give the impression that the association in question carries on its activities in a manner linked to those of another legal person, unless approved by the latter. Moreover, it held that the expression “persecutees” was defamatory for APEH as a State organ and was contrary to the standards of naming an association, as laid down by the Supreme Court in its Administrative College's Legal Opinion no. 1. Finally, the Regional Court found that the applicant association had only partly met the requirements as to the method of voting by its bodies.
12. The applicants appealed to the Supreme Court. Simultaneously, they complained about the dismissal of their challenge for bias.
13. On 7 July 1994 the Attorney-General's Office intervened in the appeal proceedings and proposed that the Supreme Court uphold the refusal of the request for registration. The applicants did not receive a copy of these submissions.
14. On 2 October 1995 the Supreme Court dismissed the applicant association's appeal. In addition to the reasons given by the Regional Court, it held that the applicant association's name did not correspond to its objectives, namely to reform the Hungarian taxation system, and that it could therefore not be registered under that name. The decision did not deal with the applicants' complaint about the dismissal of their challenge for bias.
The applicants lodged a petition for review by the Supreme Court.
15. On 21 February 1996 the Attorney-General's Office requested that the Supreme Court uphold the second-instance decision.
16. On 14 May 1996 the Supreme Court dismissed the petition for review. The decision was served on the applicants on 20 June 1996.
The review bench of the Supreme Court held that the association's intended name was contrary to Article 77 § 1 of the Civil Code guaranteeing the right to bear a name. It held this provision to imply that a legal person's name should not give the false impression that its activity was linked to that of another legal person, namely, to that of APEH in the instant case. It also found that the unauthorised use of APEH's name contravened Article 77 § 4 of the Civil Code, according to which it was a breach of the right to bear a name if anyone used, without authorisation, a name identical with or similar to another person's name. Moreover, it considered that the expression “persecutees”, used in association with APEH's name, was contrary to Article 78 § 1 of the Civil Code protecting one's good reputation.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court held that any procedural shortcomings committed by the lower courts, in particular those concerning the handling of the submissions of APEH and of the public prosecutor's office, had not influenced the courts' decisions on the merits of the case. It also stated that, throughout the proceedings, the applicants had been in a position to exercise their rights effectively and, in the course of the second-instance and the review proceedings, they could have made any comments which they had not been able to advance previously.
Finally, the Supreme Court pointed out that the applicants' complaint about the dismissal of their challenge for bias could not be examined in review proceedings.
17. The applicants complained under Article 6 § 1 that the proceedings concerning the applicant association's registration were unfair.
The relevant parts of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention provide:
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing ... by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. ...”
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