The Institute of Precedent gives free access to the collection of decisions delivered by the Ruling Senate of the Russian Empire on civil substantive and procedural law matters. This is the fullest and most systematic collection of Senate’s precedents among all currently available to the public. The collection consists of decisions of the Civil Cassation Department (1866-1913), as well as decisions of general meetings of both cassation departments (Civil and Criminal) and their joint meetings with the First Department which was mainly responsible for the issues of administrative justice. Texts of the decisions prior to the year 1903 are present in pdf format (downloadable), whereas the texts related to the years 1903-1913 are accessible via direct hyperlinks to the Russian National Library website. Decisions of the general meetings that are currently available cover the period from 1878 to 1896 and embrace various areas of law, apart from the civil one.
Decisions are divided into annual issues which are set out chronologically. In the nearest future all annual issues will be annotated, indicating the most interesting and often-quoted precedents.
General idea regarding the activities of the Ruling Senate as the supreme judicial instance of the Russian Empire can be drawn from Dr. Alexander Vereshchagin’s article on this issue; also, four essays on the law-creating activities of the Senate which were written by prominent legal scholars are currently available on our website. Those who wish to familiarise themselves in greater detail with the work of the Ruling Senate are advised to read the fourth volume of The History of the Ruling Senate for 200 years (Saint-Petersburg, 1911).
It is our hope that this new subsection of our web site will help the legal community to acquaint itself with the Russian tradition of judicial law-making and interpretation, which until now remains largely (and undeservedly) forgotten.