Facts of the case
On Feb 28, 2018, Atyrau City Court found the defendant Dosmagambetov to be liable for restitution to the state in the amount 129 639 381 tenge, and responsible for a court fee of 3 889 182 tenge. The fee was based on plaintiff’s status as a legal entity. Atyrau Oblast Court affirmed the trial court’s decision. Dosmagambetov petitioned to the Constitutional Court contending that he was impermissibly required to pay 50% of that fee upon appeal to the highest court of general jurisdiction (Supreme Court).
The relevant provisions provide as follows:
(1) From administrative claims filed with the court…the state fee is charged in the following amounts:
from property-based claims: for individuals - 1 percent of the amount of the claim; for legal entities - 3 percent of the amount of the claim;
(2) when filing petitions of appeal- 50% of the relevant fee established when filing a claim.
When the initial court fee is calculated in accordance with the plaintiff’s status as a legal entity, may the court calculate court fees on appeal by the defendant – an individual – in the amount of 50% of the initial court fee?
No. The court held that the initial court fee on appeal should be based on the individual defendant’s status, not the opposing party’s status. The court reasoned that the legislature intended to provide for individuals’ access to justice in accordance with the Constitution by establishing differential court fees that depend on the party’s legal status. The court found that imposing a higher fee on an individual because of the opposing party’s status on appeal was inconsistent with the general principles of law requiring consistency, clarity, and coherence of legislative regulation. The court concluded that such a fee arrangement infringed on individuals’ rights under Article 13 and Article 14 of the Constitution. Therefore, the court fee upon the appeal should be understood as imposing 50% of the initial fee that would be collected from an individual, not a legal entity.
Yes. The court held that the court fee arrangement violated the individual’s right to access justice and equality before the law. The court reasoned that the state’s fiscal needs must be balanced with the economic needs of the taxpayer. The court found that the legislator failed to find a reasonable balance between access to justice and the efficiency of the justice system when imposing a court fee. Current fee arrangement did not provide for an upper limit on a fee to be assessed, did not provide discretionary means for the court to waive the fee, postpone its payments, or provide for payments in installments. The court concluded that such a fee arrangement unconstitutionally limited individuals’ right to access justice under Article 13 and put them in an unequal position with respect to other citizens under Article 14. The court mandated the government to introduce legislation within three months to improve the legislative regulation of the court costs consistent with the opinion.
Foreign Authorities Cited
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
- Judges: Azimova (Chief); Kydyrbaeva (Rapporteur); Nurmukhanov; Eskendirov; Zhakipbaev; Zhatkanbayeva; Musin; Ongarbaev; Podoprigora; Sarsembaev; Udartsev
- Date: 22 February, 2023
- Tags: civil-procedure
- Link: Нормативное постановление Конституционного Суда Республики Казахстан от 27 марта 2023 года № 5 (www.gov.kz)
- The website’s summary of the Court’s holding is made for educational purposes only, is not legal advice, and does not form an attorney-client relationship. The summary represents author’s interpretation of the decision, and may be incomplete or inaccurate. For the text of the decision, see the hyperlink above.