European Court of Human Rights: review of the judgment of 4 February 2020 (Section III) in the case of Kruglov and Others v. Russia (application no. 11264/04 and 15 others)

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DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2020-1-66-71

Keywords: investigative actions concerning “inspections”, “crime-scene examinations” and “searches” of premises; protection of property; right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence; seizure and retainment of data-storage devices; the lawyer-client confidentiality


In the case of Kruglov and others v. Russia, 25 Russian citizens submitted 16 applications to the European Court of Human Rights complaining that Russian authorities violated their rights guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention and Article 13 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 8. 11 applicants within 6 applications also claimed that their right under Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the Convention has been violated. Having declared application no.14244/11 fully inadmissible, the European Court concentrated on resolving the issue of whether the applicants’ rights guaranteed by Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and Article 1 of Protocol 1 (right to respect for private property) were violated. As regards the complaints under Article 8, the European Court, while often referring to its legal positions in the case of Yuditskaya and others v. Russia, concluded that although the investigative actions undertaken by Russian investigative authorities were lawful and pursued the legitimate aim of the prevention of crime, however, they were not “necessary in a democratic society”. This conclusion of the Court was based on the following facts: firstly, that in the cases where a search warrant was issued by judiciary, the national courts did not attempt to balance the interests of the involved parties. Secondly, that the investigative actions in the present cases encroached upon the lawyer-client confidentiality to such an extent that was disproportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. And finally, that the investigative actions in the premises of the applicants, who were practicing lawyers but were not advocates, were carried out without sufficient procedural guarantees against abuse. Thus, there was a violation of Article 8 of the Convention. As regards the complaint of 11 applicants about a violation of their right to peaceful enjoyment of their possessions, the Court concludes that since the data-storage devices seized during the investigations themselves were not an object, instrument or product of any criminal offense, therefore their further storage and failure by the authorities to return the data-storage devices within a reasonable time constituted a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No.1 to the Convention.

Citation: (2020) Evropeyskiy Sud po pravam cheloveka: obzor postanovleniya ot 4 fevralya 2020 goda (Sektsiya III) po delu Kruglov i drugie protiv Rossii (zhaloba No.11264/04 and 15 drugikh) [European Court of Human Rights: review of the judgment of 4 February 2020 (Section III) in the case of Krug­lov and Others v. Russia (application no.11264/04 and 15 others)]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol.10, no.2, pp.66–71. (In Russian).