The issue of compensation for damages caused by the Russian Federation has been discussed in legal circles since 2014, and with the beginning of open armed aggression, it became urgent, which directly affects the rights of the Ukrainian people and the state as a whole. Let's analyze some court decisions from the Unified State Register of Court Decisions (hereinafter referred to as the Unified State Register of Court Decisions).
1. Civil cases on the claims of individuals.
1.1. Cases related to the compensation of moral damage.
Thus, the plaintiff in case No. 686/30265/21 asked the court to collect compensation for the moral damage caused to him, which he estimates at 60,000.00 euros, which is equivalent to 1,880,400.00 UAH. The plaintiff emphasized that as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the Russian occupation of part of the territory of the Luhansk region, the plaintiff and her family members are effectively deprived of the opportunity to own, use and dispose of the apartment, which causes the plaintiff both moral and property damage in the form of unearned income, which she could actually receive under normal circumstances, if her right to ownership of this immovable property was not violated, which led to the violation of a number of rights and freedoms of the plaintiff. In the absent decision, the court notes that the actions of the Russian Federation caused the plaintiff emotional distress, forced her to be in a depressed state for a long period of time. Together with her family, she was forced to start life anew in an unfamiliar city, without acquaintances, friends, relatives and money. The court believes that the given reasons are grounds for recovery of moral damage from the defendant in favor of the plaintiff.
Also, in case No. 211/3600/20, the court satisfied the claim for recovery of moral damages in favor of the plaintiff, who personally participated in hostilities in the period from 06.07.2014 to 08.31.2014 in the east of Ukraine. He was taken prisoner, where he was from 29.08.2014 to 10.09.2014, as a result of which he had to be treated for a long time, which caused him mental suffering as a citizen of Ukraine and a direct participant in hostilities.
When considering cases of recovery of moral damages, the following are taken into account: the duration of mental suffering; degree of loss of the plaintiff's social ties; the efforts that the plaintiff must make to restore the situation that existed before his rights were violated; spending time on social adaptation; the possibility of employment in a specialty at a new place of residence, etc.; the plaintiff's state of health before and after the violation of his rights, which caused moral damage; presence of harm to health; loss of ability or ability to bear children, etc.
1.2. Cases related to compensation for moral damage due to the death of a loved one.
The resolution of the Supreme Court dated 14.04.2022 in case No. 308/9708/19 1 (the plaintiff, acting in her own interests and in the interests of minor children, applied to the court with a claim against the Russian Federation for compensation for moral damage caused as a result of armed aggression) was indicative of such types of disputes. the Russian Federation against Ukraine, which led to the death of her husband – a soldier), in which the Supreme Court emphasizes that: "After the start of the war in Ukraine in 2014, the court of Ukraine, considering a case where the defendant is identified as the Russian Federation, has the right to ignore the immunity of this country and consider cases on compensation for damage caused to an individual as a result of armed aggression of the Russian Federation, according to a lawsuit filed against this foreign country. Therefore, disputes against the Russian Federation can be considered in Ukraine without the need to obtain the consent of the competent authorities of the Russian Federation. This significantly simplified the procedure for applying for the protection of the rights of the affected persons and shortened the terms of consideration of these disputes.
In case No. 215/294/21, the plaintiff appealed to the court with a claim against the Russian Federation in the person of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ukraine and JSC Sberbank, which changed its name to JSC International Reserve Bank, for the recovery of non-pecuniary damage, in which she asks to recover jointly with of the Russian Federation, JSC "International Reserve Bank" in its own favor 1,015,000.00 UAH for compensation of moral damage associated with the loss of his father in connection with his direct participation in hostilities for the defense of Ukraine due to the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. The court believes that it is a consequence of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, which is a well-known fact, and therefore cannot be proven even according to the norms of Part 3 of Art. 82 of the Civil Code of Ukraine, there was an occupation of part of the territory of Ukraine, including a part of the Donetsk region, where the plaintiff's father died.
Since the loss of the plaintiff's father occurred as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation, during the repulse of which the father died, the court considers that it is the defendant of the Russian Federation who is responsible for compensating the plaintiff for moral damage. The court partially satisfied the claim: it decided to recover moral damages in the amount of UAH 1,015,000 from the state of the Russian Federation in favor of the plaintiff.
1.3. Cases related to compensation for property damage.
Thus, the plaintiff in case No. 752/7929/16-ts asked the court, along with compensation for moral damage, to compensate for property damage caused as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the Russian occupation of part of the territory of the Luhansk region, which caused the loss of the right to dispose of and use the housing belonging to her. The lawsuit was partially satisfied, the court decided to collect from the Russian Federation in favor of the plaintiff: for damages in the amount of UAH 114,750, which on the day the claim was presented to the court at the official rate of the NBU was equivalent to 4,625 euros; for compensation for moral damage – UAH 985,950, which is equivalent to 35,000 euros at the official rate of the National Bank of Ukraine on the day the claim was presented to the court. The plaintiff provided documents on the right to ownership of housing, as well as confirmation of the fact of forced relocation to another area. The plaintiff showed at the court hearing that since 03.11.2014 she temporarily resides and is registered at another address. She indicates that she currently feels safe, but is forced to adapt to new living conditions, to look for income; does not have adequate rest, because she constantly thinks about the violation of her legal rights, constantly feels disappointment due to the long-term violation of rights, powerlessness and helplessness, is forced to spend time and money to protect her rights and interests.
Taking into account the multiple and ongoing nature of violations of the rights and legitimate interests of the plaintiff, taking into account the practice of the ECtHR, the court came to the conclusion that the method chosen by the plaintiff to collect compensation for moral damage in the form of a lump sum, which covers all alleged violations committed by the Russian Federation in relation to her, is legal .
Similar cases Nos. 428/11673/19, 522/20396/18 , 711/17/19 are also interesting.
2. Business cases following lawsuits by business entities.
Case No. 914/1552/22 on the claim of an individual entrepreneur to the Russian Federation for the recovery of damages in the amount of UAH 634,395.30 (cost of equipment). The actions of the Russian Federation deprived the plaintiff of the opportunity to exercise his right to ownership of movable property, the plaintiff is deprived of the opportunity to access his property, the opportunity to take it away and keep it in an intact and undamaged state, and therefore requests to recover the damages caused to him.
The court notes that when resolving disputes about compensation for damage under Art. 1166 of the Civil Code of Ukraine must be proven: the fact of causing damage; the illegality of the actions of the person who caused the damage and his guilt; causal connection between illegal action and negative consequences. The absence of at least one of these elements excludes liability for damage. Tort liability, as a general rule, arises only if the person causing the damage is at fault. Therefore, the obligation to compensate for damage is a direct consequence of the offense, that is, the violation of subjective personal non-property and property rights and interests of civil relations participants protected by law. By their nature, these obligations belong to the type of non-negotiable, that is, they arise outside the boundaries of the existing contractual or other legally binding relations between the victim and the person causing the damage.
The illegality of the defendant's action as a constituent element of the fact of armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine within the meaning of Part 3 of Art. 85 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine is a well-known fact, which is established by the state at the legislative level. Therefore, the court came to the conclusion that the plaintiff's claims are justified and subject to satisfaction in full.
Case No. 922/1059/22 on the claim of a legal entity to the Russian Federation for recovery of UAH 17,117,000 in damages, where the claimant states that he owns a non-residential building located in the city of Kharkiv as a private property. As a result of massive rocket fire by Russian troops in the central part of the city in early March 2022, a non-residential building belonging to the plaintiff was completely destroyed. The fact of the aforementioned rocket attacks on the central part of the city of Kharkiv gained significant public resonance and was covered in numerous mass media, which is why it is common knowledge.
According to the report on the results of the survey of building structures, the object is in an emergency state, as a result of the hostilities it has completely lost its economic value, there is damage to the load-bearing and enclosing structures, the extent and nature of which indicates the danger of an emergency collapse of the object. It is recommended to carry out urgent works regarding the dismantling (liquidation) of the object. Also, the subject of the evaluation activity performed an assessment of the amount of damages that led to the assignment of property damage to the plaintiff, in the amount of UAH 17,117,000. Therefore, the court came to the conclusion that the plaintiff, on the basis of proper and admissible evidence, proved the full composition of the civil offense, which is a condition and basis for applying to the defendant such a measure of responsibility as compensation for damages.
In case No. 922/916/22 on the claim of a legal entity to the Russian Federation for recovery of UAH 977,419.06 in damages for compensation of property damage caused as a result of damage to a non-residential building, which is a historical monument, it is indicated that the plaintiff submitted to the court a certificate of property damage , made in the premises of a non-residential building by employees working in it, and the damage is confirmed by photographs taken, in particular, using the eyeWitness to Atrocities mobile application. In addition, the claimant's ownership is confirmed by an information certificate from the State Register of Real Property Rights and the Register of Property Rights, the State Register of Mortgages, and the Unified Register of Prohibitions on the Alienation of Real Estate Objects. In addition, subcontracts were provided for carrying out work on bringing non-residential premises into proper condition. Claims were satisfied in full. An additional decision was also made to collect legal aid costs from the Russian Federation in the amount of UAH 60,000.00.
3. Lawsuits to international courts.
3.1. We will remind that Ukraine filed lawsuits:
against the Russian Federation before the ECHR regarding violations of the provisions of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; most EU countries joined the lawsuit as third parties;
against the Russian Federation to the UN International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The issue of paying reparations to Ukraine requires a separate legal analysis. Effective legal mechanisms are currently being developed to hold the Russian Federation accountable by compensating for damage resulting from Russian military aggression.
3.2. Citizens affected by armed aggression also have the right to apply to the ECHR no later than 16.01.2023, but on the condition that the violation of their rights took place before 16.09.2022, because it was until 16.09.2022 that the Russian Federation was a party to the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms. An application to the ECtHR together with evidence can be submitted within four months after the violation of rights through the official website of the ECtHR.
Summarizing the above, we would like to note that plaintiffs should thoroughly prepare for filing a lawsuit against the Russian Federation and take measures regarding:
collection of documents (on ownership, extracts from state registers, etc.);
involvement of eyewitnesses in recording damages;
involvement of subjects of assessment activity in order to obtain an expert opinion on the amount of damages;
in the absence of ownership documents, it is necessary to attach primary documents to the claim (expenditure invoices, acts of acceptance and transfer of property, payment documents (including payment of utilities), bank statements, receipts, wills, documents testifying to the submission of reports , payment of taxes and fees related to destroyed property, etc.);
appeal to law enforcement agencies about the commission of crimes;
conducting an inventory as part of a commission of authorized persons;
preservation of payment documents, contracts, orders, acts of acceptance and transfer of services rendered, completed works, expert opinions, etc., related to the restoration of property;
collection of medical certificates in case of health damage;
initiation by local self-government bodies of acts of destruction or damage to property;
preservation of electronic documents, taking a screenshot of official messages in the mass media where destroyed or damaged property is recorded, preservation of any written and electronic correspondence that can confirm the facts of destruction, damage to property or the right to ownership of it.
The article uses fragmentary information from the USSR, which is in the public domain as of the day of its publication.
Author: Anna Frankova , lawyer