Constitutionality of Article 1244(3) of Civil Code

JurisdictionRusia
CourtRussian Federation Constitutional Court
JudgeKleandrov,Seleznev,Yaroslavtsev,Mavrin,Bondar,Kazantsev,Danilov,Khokhryakova,Zorkin,Krasavchikova,Kokotov,Aranovsky,Melnikov,Zhilin,Zharkova,Rudkin,Boytsov,Gadzhiev
Docket Number(Ruling No 2531-O)

Russian Federation, Constitutional Court.

(Zorkin, President, Aranovsky, Boytsov, Bondar, Gadzhiev, Danilov, Zharkova, Zhilin, Kazantsev, Kleandrov, Kokotov, Krasavchikova, Mavrin, Melnikov, Rudkin, Seleznev, Khokhryakova and Yaroslavtsev, Judges)

(Ruling No 2531-O)

Re Review of Constitutionality of Article 1244(3) of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation

Economics, trade and finance — World Trade Organization — Obligations of Russian Federation in relation to its accession to World Trade Organization — Obligation to amend system of noncontractual collective management of copyright and related rights — Russian law — Article 1244(3) of Civil Code of Russian Federation — Whether Constitutional Court may examine compliance of provisions of federal law with provisions of international law — Whether Constitutional Court may decide the question of implementation of obligations under international law

Relationship of international law and municipal law — Treaties — Russian Federation acceding to World Trade Organization — Obligations of Russian Federation — Constitution of Russian Federation — Article 15(4) of Constitution — International law forming part of Russian legal system — Provision of international agreement prevailing in case of inconsistency with domestic provision — Civil Code of Russian Federation — Article 1244(3) of Civil Code not amended in accordance with international obligation — Constitutionality of Article 1244(3) of Civil Code — Applicant court requesting Constitutional Court to review whether Article 1244(3) of Civil Code complying with Article 15(4) of Constitution — Whether international obligation directly applicable — Mode of implementation — Whether Constitutional Court having competence to decide — The law of the Russian Federation

Summary:1The facts:—The applicant, the Fifteenth Appellate Commercial Court, referred the question of the constitutionality of Article

1244(3) of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation (“the Civil Code”),2 which allowed collective management of rights in the absence of an agreement between an organization for collective management and the owners of rights, to the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation (“the Constitutional Court”).

When acceding to the World Trade Organization, Russia undertook an obligation to amend its system of collective management of rights in order to eliminate non-contractual management of rights within five years of Part IV of the Civil Code entering into force.3 Although the deadline for compliance with the undertaking was 1 March 2013, the provisions of Article 1244(3) of the Civil Code had not been amended.

Article 15(4) of the Constitution of the Russian Federation (“the Constitution”)4 provided that rules of international law and provisions of international agreements entered into by the Russian Federation formed part of its legal system. It further provided that in cases of inconsistency between a provision of an international agreement entered into by the Russian Federation and a provision of federal law, the provision of the international agreement should prevail.

The applicant, when deciding a civil dispute, considered that it was unclear if Article 1242(3) of the Civil Code that was applicable in that case was compatible with the provisions of the Constitution and, in particular, Article 15(4) of the Constitution. By its judgment of 2 June 2014, the applicant adjourned the proceedings and filed a request with the Constitutional Court to clarify the question of compliance of Article 1244(3) of the Civil Code with Article 15(4) of the Constitution.

Held:—The Constitutional Court did not have the competence to decide the issue.

(1) International treaties entered into by the Russian Federation became part of its legal system. Provisions of international treaties took precedence over contrary provisions of national legislation. International treaties could either be directly applicable in the Russian Federation or require an adoption of a legal act for their implementation. A requirement to amend national legislation contained in an international treaty served as an indicator that the treaty could not be directly applied and that its implementation required an adoption of a domestic legal act. When acceding to the World Trade Organization, the Russian Federation undertook to amend its legislation to eliminate non-contractual collective management of rights from its Civil Code. The Constitutional Court did not have competence to decide on whether the international obligation was directly applicable or on the mode of its implementation (paras. 3–3.2).

(2) In order to decide on the merits of the request, the Constitutional Court would have to determine the compliance of Article 1244(3) of the Civil Code with a provision of an international legal act, i.e. the undertaking of the Russian Federation to revise its national regulation of collective management of rights in the absence of an agreement between an organization and a right owner. The question of compliance of provisions of national law with the rules of public international law was outside the scope of the competence of the Constitutional Court (para. 4).

The following is the text of the relevant part of the judgment of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation:

1. In accordance with Article 1244(3) of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, an organization for collective management of copyright and related rights that has obtained state accreditation (“an accredited organization”) is entitled to manage copyright and related rights and collect remuneration for the benefit of the right owners with whom it has entered into agreements to that end in accordance with Article 1242(3) of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, as well as those right owners with whom it has not entered into such agreements. The existence of one accredited organization does not prevent the creation of other...

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