View Adopted: 2021.03.25
The author, a national of the Republic of Serbia born on 24 March 1943 claimed that the State violated his right under article 14 (1), read alone and in conjunction with article 26 of the Covenant, by denying him access to justice and subjected to indirect discrimination.
The author was dismissed from his employment at the Belgrade City Library in 2001. He later filed a civil complaint against the Library before the Belgrade First Municipal Court, requesting annulment of the decision of his termination and the court ruled in his favour. However, the Belgrade District Court subsequently granted the Library’s appeal of that decision and ordered a retrial. In the retrial, the court ruled in the favour of the library and ordered the author to pay court costs in the amount of 173,500 dinars (equivalent to approximately 2,000 Euros at the time.) The author’s appeal against this decision was rejected by the District Court on 31 July 2009.
The domestic law allowed for filing a cassation appeal in labour law disputes. The Supreme Court declared the author’s cassation appeal inadmissible because it had been submitted and signed by the author himself, not by his legal representative. The author then filed a complaint to the Constitutional Court which was again dismissed.
The Committee noted that in the author's appeal of the decision of the Supreme Court of Cassation before the Constitutional Court, he raised the substance of his allegations under article 14 (1), read alone and in conjunction with article 26 of the Covenant.
The Committee noted that the communication concerned a civil labour matter, and observed that article 14 (3) (d) of the Covenant, which provides for a limited right to defend oneself, applies to criminal defendants and not to civil litigants. It also recalled its general comment No. 32, which states that the right of equal access to a court, embodied in article 14 (1) of the Covenant, concerns access to first instance procedures and does not address the issue of the right to appeal or other remedies. Therefore, the Committee concluded that the author’s claim regarding denial of access to the Supreme Court of Cassation lies outside the scope of the protection of article 14 of the Covenant and is therefore inadmissible ratione materiae under article 3 of the Optional Protocol.
By Sugandha Sawhney