Recovery of Legal Fees in the Event of Procedural Succession

On 28 May 2024, the Constitutional Court adopted Resolution No. 26-P “On the Case on the Verification of the Constitutionality of Part 1 of Article 110 of the Arbitration Procedural Code of the Russian Federation in Connection with the Complaint of Citizen E. M. Tumanina”, in which it analyzed the possibility of reimbursement of legal fees associated with the consideration of an application for procedural succession.


In 2018, a court decision in favor of UYUT LLC (the “Company”) seized property from the unlawful possession of Elena Tumanina (the “Claimant”). Two years later, the sole shareholder of the Company, citizen M., applied to the court for substitution of the Claimant for the purpose of enforcing this judgment; the basis for the application to the court was the exclusion of the Company from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities. The district court refused to satisfy the application on the grounds that the shareholder of the company was not its legal successor, and that citizen M. had the right to claim only the property remaining after the liquidation of the Сompany.

Subsequently, the plaintiff applied to the court for reimbursement of the legal fees incurred as a result of her participation in the consideration of the succession application. The courts of three instances refused to grant the claim on the grounds that the Сlaimant was the party against whom the decision had been taken, i.e. the debtor. At the same time, the proceedings on the question of procedural succession were inextricably linked to the proceedings in the main proceedings. Participation in the succession proceedings could not entitle the debtor to reimbursement of legal fees.

Position of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation

The use of general criteria for the distribution of legal fees in the legislation does not exclude the judicial assessment of the connection of the costs with the consideration of the case, as well as their necessity, justification and reasonableness. The distribution of legal fees between the parties is possible not only on the basis of the final court decision on the satisfaction or rejection of the claim on the merits, but also on the basis of other criteria. The recovery of legal fees is possible, inter alia, if a party has been forced to resort to the defense of rights which have been infringed or challenged by other persons who are not parties to the substantive legal relationship in dispute.

The substitution of the plaintiff by the court in the order of procedural succession is of fundamental importance for the debtor, since the debtor is obliged to pay not to an arbitrary, but to a specific person. An incorrect determination by the court of the person for whose benefit the debtor is obliged to execute the claim may have a number of negative consequences for the debtor. Consequently, the consideration of a request for procedural succession requires the debtor’s participation and imposes additional burdens on him that are not caused by the court decision on the merits of the dispute. At the same time, the debtor’s efforts to oppose substitution on the part of the plaintiff are caused solely by the actions of another person who has not previously participated in the case and who considers himself to be the successor in interest of a party to the case, even without justification.

Thus, the legal fees incurred by the debtor during the court’s consideration of the claimant’s procedural succession application have a completely independent significance for the debtor and are not in all cases linked to the outcome of the substantive dispute on the merits.

However, the courts, particularly in the case of the Claimant, refuse to reimburse legal fees in such disputes on the grounds that the debtor’s position has lost the substantive dispute and that the decision on succession is a separate matter, the outcome of which does not affect the apportionment of costs between the parties to the main dispute. This approach has a negative impact on the debtor’s ability to protect and restore his rights in court.

At the same time, the bad faith of the debtor, as determined by the court, which, by its inaction, delayed the enforcement of the court’s judgment until the liquidation of the plaintiff, the Company, and then objected to the procedural succession, may serve as an independent ground for refusing to reimburse legal fees.

According to this interpretation, the disputed provision does not contradict the Constitution of the Russian Federation.