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The Russian Constitutional Court: it is permissible to decrease below the minimum level administrative fines issued in accordance with the laws of constituent entities of the Russian Federation on administrative offences

24.04.2020
3 min read
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Pepeliaev Group advises that a number of provisions of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences have been recognised as non-constitutional that prevent the decreasing below the minimum level of fines issued in accordance with the laws of constituent entities of the Russian Federation on administrative offences (Resolution No. 15-P of the Russian Constitutional Court dated 7 April 2020).

The introduction of the high-alert regime in connection with the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus infection (COVID-19) has already resulted in the imposition of administrative liability for the violation of self-isolation in many constituent entities of the Russian Federation. As a rule the corresponding administrative punishment in these cases is imposed in accordance with the legislation of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation on administrative offences.

In this regard and in all other situations, please note that the Russian Constitutional Court has allowed the possibility to apply articles 4.1(3.2) and 4.1(3.3) of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences regulating the opportunity to set the amount of an administrative fine below the minimum level, including when imposing liability in accordance with the legislation of the Russian constituent entities on administrative offences.

The Federal legislature has been ordered to make the corresponding amendments to the Russian Code of Administrative Offences. Until that is done, the court should be guided by the legal position of the Russian Constitutional Court identified in the specified Resolution. All judicial decisions with a different interpretation on this issue must be reconsidered under the circumstances in accordance with the procedural legislation.

Background

A joint stock company was held administratively liable for committing an offence provided for the Code of the Administrative Offences with an administrative punishment being imposed in the form of a fine.

The courts dismissed the claimant’s arguments regarding the application of articles 4.1(3.2) and 4.1(3.3) of the Code of Administrative Offences, according to which in extraordinary circumstances, connected with the nature of the committed administrative offence and its consequences, as well as with the property status and financial condition of the legal entity being held liable, the court has the right to impose punishment in the form of an administrative fine below the minimum level provided for by the corresponding article of section II of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences.

The courts proceeded from the fact that articles 4.1(3.2) and 4.1(3.3) of the Code of Administrative Offences refer solely to elements of administrative offences provided for by section II of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences, which excludes their application to elements of offences contained in the laws of the Russian constituent entities on administrative offences.

Position of the Russian Constitutional Court

The Russian Constitutional Court has not agreed with the above approach of the courts, specifying that even though this approach corresponds to a literal interpretation of the provisions of the Russian Code of Administrative offences, it nonetheless creates prerequisites for discriminatory practice. Accordingly articles 4.1(3.2) and 4.1(3.3) of the Code of Administrative Offences do not comply with the Russian Constitution to the extent to which, in the system of current legal regulation, they exclude the possibility of imposing an administrative fine of below the minimum level established by the law of a constituent entity of the Russian Federation on administrative offences.

What to think about

Pepeliaev Group recommends complying with the corresponding restrictions introduced for preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, if administrative liability is imposed for these offences, as well as for any other offences, we recommend thoroughly developing a strategy for protecting your interests in court, including taking into account the possibility to substantiate circumstances whose presence allow the amount of a fine to be decreased below the minimum level.

Help from your adviser

Pepeliaev Group’s lawyers have significant experience of representing our clients in cases concerning the imposition of administrative liability both in courts and before administrative authorities, where we are ready to provide the full range of qualified legal support.

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