A Court Decision or a Puzzle?

The court of general jurisdiction of the Tavush marz (Dilijan location) released a decision, according to which the claim filed against a media outlet and a journalist was rejected. However, according to the same decision, the respondent party must pay compensation for legal costs to the plaintiff.

This dispute between the “Ijevani CHSHSH” road-constructing CJSC and the “Ijevani Studia” Ltd. and its director Naira Khachikyan has been ongoing since 2011. As a background, the plaintiff disputes reportage prepared by Naira Khachikyan and later broadcasted by the Armenian Second TV Channel on June 21. During the reportage the road constructing company was considered to be destructive, as well as embezzling the money from state budget. The plaintiff demands to apologize publicly for slandering its business reputation, as well as to compensate the damage by AMD 3mln and 264,000 including the judicial expenses and the court fee.

On 27 April, the decision of the court was pronounced, and according to it, the complaint was met partially. The court decided that in this case the proper plaintiff was Naira Khachikyan who was obligated to pay 50 000 AMD to Ijevan Road Construction CJSC as damages against defamation. According to the judgment, Naira Khachikyan was to be exacted 20 000 AMD as reasonable payment to the lawyer, as well as 1500 AMD as compensation for the pre-paid court fee. When determining the amount of damages the court took into account that on 27 June 2011 the manager and employees of Ijevan Road Construction CJSC by the news programmes ’Lraber’ of the Second Armenian Channel presented their reply on the information aired in the broadcast. On 23 May the plaintiff appealed this judgment to the Appeal Court. On 4 July the appeal was granted and accordingly the 27 April judgment of the court of general jurisdiction was quashed and the case was sent to the same court for full re-examination.

The re-examinaion of the case in the Court of General Jurisdiction of the Tavush marz (sitting in Dilijan) started on 26 September and continued until March 11, 2013. On March 22, the court concluded that there was no insult in the disputed reportage, so the claim was to be rejected. However, according to the second part of the decision, the “Ijevani Studia” Ltd and its director Naira Khachikyan were obligated to pay the legal costs; AMD 100,000 for the attorney’s fee and AMD 40,000 as a a court fee.

One should wonder why the respondents were obligated to pay the legal costs if the claim filed against them had been rejected. As there was no answer to this question in the final part of the decision, we tried to find it in the analytical part of it. According to this part, the respondent had not proved the information spread via the disputed reportage. However, there is still no certain answer if the author of the reportage had slandered the plaintiff or not. In the end of the decision’s analytical part we find the grounds for the rejection of the demand concerning the insult. Afterwards, it’s written that the demand for compensation in the amount of 2mln AMD for the defamation must be rejected taking into account the financial situation of the respondent. Thus, the court found that the “Ijevani Studia” Ltd. and its director Naira Khachikyan must pay for the legal costs; AMD 100,000 for the attorney’s fee and AMD 40,000 as a a court fee.

Thus, we can see that the claim was rejected, however, the right of the plaintiff had been violated, for the restoration of which some reasonable payments were made, which must be paid by the respondent. Nevertheless, according to Point 1 of Article 73 of the RA Civil Procedure Code, the legal costs are distributed amongst the parties of the litigation in proportion with the satisfied claims.

 

Anna ALOYAN

CPFE expert

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