The right to be heard: amici curiae briefs in Russian Constitutional Court

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Author: Olga Kryazhkova

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2018-5-87-105

Keywords: amicus curiae brief; civil society; constitutional proceeding; initiative scientific opinion


Non-governmental organizations in Russia have accumulated experience in preparing and providing the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation amici curiae (“friends of the court’s”) briefs. In theory and practice, “friends of the court” are considered to be those who provide the court with useful information that has a bearing on the current case and the court can use this information to reach the decision. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation calls these briefs “initiative scientific opinions”, with the term being confirmed in 2017 in the Rules of the Constitutional Court. The purpose of this article is to assess whether amici curiae briefs influence the Court’s decisions. The author uses an empirical approach by comparing the content of 12 initiative scientific opinions that are available in the Internet with the content of the Constitutional Court’s decisions, dissents, and concurring opinions. The results of this research show that 25% of briefs were not adopted by judges. The author of the article presumes that this situation is caused by the way in which the brief concerns the matter of case, as well as the political context. In 75% of cases the influence of amici curiae briefs on the Constitutional Court or on individual judges can be noticed. The characteristics of these cases include: a coincidence of the facts, legal constructions, conclusions, and assessments in the judgments of the Court; the de facto disproof of the “friends of the court’s” position; an agreement with the position of the amicus curiae; and the citing of relevant provisions in the dissents. As a result, the author makes the conclusion that the amicus curiae is a working and significant institute in Russian constitutional justice, emphasizes the requirement of objectivity and scientific impartiality for amicus curiae briefs, and expresses the position that the Constitutional Court should mention what information is drawn from the “friends of the court’s” briefs in its decisions.

About the author: Olga Kryazhkova – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Associate Professor, Russian State University of Justice, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Kryazhkova O. (2018) Pravo byt’ uslyshannym: memorandum amici curiae v rossiyskom Konstitutsionnom Sude [The right to be heard: amici curiae briefs in Russian Constitutional Court]. Sravninel’noe konstitutsionnoe obo­zrenie, vol. 27, no. 5, pp. 87–105. (In Russian).


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