INTELLECT-S won the case against RR

INTELLECT-S makes Russian Railways to refund all improper charges unlawfully made to client.

INTELLECT-S's attorneys Evgeny Komolov, Alexei Filippov and Andrei Tronin successfully represented a client in a case where it challenged the validity of daily fees charged by Russian Railways for the use of railway approach track.

Alexey Filippov

Alexey Filippov
Former associate

OOO Aramilsky Flour Mills (AFM), which used the track under an agreement with the owner, Russian Railway (RR), paid the owner daily charges, and, after it began using the track less than daily, asked INTELLECT-S for a legal opinion on grounds for refusal to pay such daily fees.

The advice gave rise to suit AFM filed with the Sverdlovsk regional arbitrazh court in June 2012 for the refund of unearned charges (as unjust enrichment), and compensatory interest for the use or detention of money.

The plaintiff's counsel built their case on the fact that although the Higher Arbitrazh Court had struck down the rules of a statute which required the daily charges, as contravening the basic law governing railway carriage, the Russian Federation Railway Transport Charter, the defendant had continued to apply, debited the plaintiff's account and retained the unearned charges for non-use of the track.

Russian Railways alleged in defense that the parties' relationships were those of a carrier and a freight owner, and, consequently, the plaintiff was estopped by laches, as the period of limitations for freight owner claims against carriers was one year. Finally, the plaintiff had not exhausted the statutory complaint procedure before it sued.

THE INTELLECT-S's counsel for the plaintiff demonstrated that only unjust enrichment rules applied to the parties' actual relationships, including the suit, which rules provided, among other things, for a much longer, 3 years, period of limitations (which had not yet expired) and no prior complaint procedure.

No daily charges for the use of a non-general access track could have been required either under the Railway Transport Charter nor by any other statute and, consequently, the parties' relations were not governed by any special transport law requiring some particular prerequisite for legal action. INTELLECT-S's attorney demonstrated that the agreement of operation of a non-public approach rail track, requiring the payment of unlawful charges, was invalid and unenforceable as contravening the law, and the carrier must refund the charges as unjust enrichment.

The trial court accepted our attorneys' argument, and the October 2012 judgment by which the court granted all the relief sought by INTELLECT-S's client, stood on appeal in the Federal Ural District Arbitrazh Court in June 2013.

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