Ignats v Latvia (Dec): ECHR 24 Sep 2013

Article 35-1
Exhaustion of domestic remedies
Effective domestic remedy
Claim for compensation in administrative courts in respect of conditions of detention: effective remedy: inadmissible
Facts – In his application to the European Court, the applicant complained, inter alia, of the conditions of his detention in prison. The Government objected that he had failed to exhaust domestic remedies.
Law – Article 35 – 1: While the Court had in previous cases found that recourse to the administrative courts was not a remedy accessible in practice to detainees, at least before 15 June 2006, it could not reach that conclusion in the applicant’s case.
The applicant had approached the administrative courts with a claim that related at least in part to his conditions of detention, so it could not be said that the administrative courts had not been accessible. Although initially his claim was not accepted, eventually it was allowed and the administrative proceedings were commenced. About a year later, however, the applicant had withdrawn his complaint with the result that the proceedings were terminated. He had not provided any reasons for his actions to the Court.
Since its judgment in Melnitis, the Court had received a number of examples of cases in which the administrative courts had dealt with complaints concerning conditions of detention and in the recent case of Timofejevi the administrative courts had examined the administrative-law concept of ‘an action of a public authority’, scrutinised the conditions of detention in a detention facility for at least part of the period in respect of which the present applicant complained, and had awarded compensation roughly equivalent to EUR 11,000.
The applicant did not claim that he had pursued the administrative proceedings as a preventive remedy and, since they were commenced after he had left the prison to which his complaint related, they had to be seen rather as a compensatory remedy. As the Court had stated in previous cases, in principle, applicants who complain about detention conditions after their release may have to make use of a compensatory remedy at national level in order to exhaust domestic remedies. Accordingly, in view of the evolution in the domestic case-law, which largely related to the period in which the applicant was detained, the applicant should have pursued his case in the first-instance administrative court, with the further possibility of judicial review and an appeal on points of law.
Conclusion: inadmissible (failure to exhaust domestic remedies).

38494/05 – Legal Summary, [2013] ECHR 1222, 38494/05 – Admissibility Decision, [2013] ECHR 1213
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Updated: 26 November 2021; Ref: scu.518822