Published: 9 Oct 2008

Itslayev v Russia

Case Summary

Case No. 34631/02
Judgment date: 9 October 2008

Facts

The applicant, Dokka Itslayev, was appointed head of the administration of Goyskoye, Chechen Republic in April 1996. In June 1996 the district administration stopped paying his salary because of lack of funds. In August 1996 Chechen rebel fighters took power in Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic, and in December 1999 the Russian federal government regained control over the Urus-Martan District. In spring 2000 the district administration was re-established. On several occasions the applicant applied to the district administration for payment of his salary and each time he was informed that the salary would be upon availability of funds. On 9 October 2001 the applicant brought a court action with the Town Court against the district administration for payment of salary arrears over the period between June 1996 and April 1997. On the same date he lodged a formal request for reinstatement of time-limits for lodging his claim. The applicant claimed that the time-limits should be lifted as there was no properly functioning judicial system in Chechnya at the time.

Judgment

The Court firstly noted that the requirement to lodge a judicial claim within a statutory time-limit is not in itself incompatible with Article 6 (1) of the Convention. It considered that Russian authorities could have experienced some difficulties in putting a judicial system in place in the Chechen Republic at the time of events. However, there had been a court to which the applicant could have applied. The Court considered that the fact that the applicant had to apply to a court situated in a different district did not put an excessive burden on him and did not affect his right of access to a court. Accordingly, the Court found that there had been no violation of Article 6(1) in respect of the applicant’s right of access to a court.

Comment

The Court rejected the Government’s claim on admissibility of the case in that Article 6(1) was not applicable to the proceedings between the applicant and the district administration. The Court observed, that the dispute in the applicant’s case concerned his right to claim the salary arrears. Under national law the applicant had a right to bring proceedings against his employer and to claim his salary. He made use of that right and introduced an action against his employer. The domestic courts dismissed his claim on the ground that it was time-barred. They did not find that the domestic law excluded access to a court to the post which the applicant had occupied. Accordingly, the dispute between the applicant and the district administration over the salary arrears involved determination of a “civil right” and Article 6(1) was applicable.