Brilliant victory of the law firm “BIEL” over the State Labour Inspectorate

15 June 2013

Law firm “BIEL” got a brilliant victory over the State Labour Inspectorate in Tverskoy District Court of Moscow. In the presence of more than 20 violations of the labour law in the company, the defense counsels managed to cancel the ruling of the State Labour Inspectorate on bringing to administrative liability of a director (foreign citizen) of a large foreign company’s branch.

In the Russian courts in cases concerning administrative offenses attention should be paid not to the essence of the offense (although it is also very important), but to the procedure of bringing to liability.

In the case described the director of the large foreign company’s branch was brought to liability. The director was not a citizen of the Russian Federation. He had only basic knowledge of the Russian language. The director worked in Russia for more than 10 years. At the same time, it could not be argued that he could easily read and understand legally relevant documents in Russian. Lawyers of the law firm “BIEL”, who were invited to protect interests of the director decided to use this fact.

When checking the enterprise the Labour Inspectorate revealed more than 20 violations of the labour law. On the results of the check-up the Inspectorate decided to bring the director of the branch to administrative liability in the form of a penalty. The law firm “BIEL” was attracted when the check-up had already been completed.

It is known that if there are two administrative sanctions a foreigner may be denied to obtain a work visa. In the described case, the amount of penalty did not matter, but the risk not to obtain the work visa for the director caused almost a panic inside the company.

Since it was not possible to contradict the fact of violations, the lawyers of “BIEL” decided to go on a formal way: to look for violations in the procedure of bringing to liability, to “help” the Inspectorate to commit as many as possible new violations when issuing rulings on the results of the check-up.

At a meeting with the labour inspector, the lawyers filed a petition for inviting of an interpreter for the director. The assumption was that the labour inspectors do not give importance to this request, since they freely communicated with the director in Russian.

A summon for drawing-up of a protocol on the director’s bringing to liability was received by the representative of the company (but not by the director) with limited powers, to which fact the inspectors did not pay attention either.

Prior to the session on bringing the director to liability, the lawyers sent to the Inspectorate the petition in English to adjourn the session, and the requirement to provide all documents of the check-up in English.

Of course, all of the lawyers’ letters were ignored by the Inspectorate.

As a result, the Inspectorate issued the decision and brought the director of the branch to administrative liability. All procedures were conducted in Russian without translation of the documents and without inviting of an interpreter.

After waiting for the last day to appeal, the lawyers mailed a complaint against the decision to bring to liability. The hope was to delay the consideration of the case for more than two months, after which bringing to liability is unlawful.

The Court found in the procedure of bringing to liability fragrant violations of the director’s rights for the protection consisting in the refusal of the Inspectorate to translate the documents of the check-up and the protocol on administrative offence, and reversed the decision, despite the presence of the labour law violations in the company.

The text of the decision (pdf, 32 Kb) is available here.
Original decision (pdf, 900 Kb) is available here.