Judgment of the Constitutional Court of 23 December 2013 № 29-П on the review of constitutionality of passage one of paragraph 1 of Article 1158 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation upon the petition of citizen Kondrachuk  

Legal issue: constitutionality of contested provision in the light of the fact that it does not enable making an unequivocal conclusion as to whether the refusal of inheritance for the benefit of a specific person from among other heirs (the so-called “directed refusal of inheritance”) is lawful or not.

Ratio decidendi: the Constitutional Court has found that as a matter of practice the ambiguity in the understanding of contested provision was caused by a change in its official interpretation given the Supreme Court in two interpretive decrees: the first one, issued in 1966, deemed the directed refusal to be lawful, whereas the second (2012) said the opposite. In the opinion of the Constitutional Court, neither of the two incompatible interpretations contradicts per se the Constitution. At the same time, the application of law by courts must be uniform, and the purpose of interpretations given by the Supreme Court is exactly to ensure such uniformity. Therefore, the provision in question does not conform to the Constitution to the extent that, by virtue of its uncertainty, it may be subject to ambiguous interpretations and, consequently, may lead to an arbitrary application of directed refusal of inheritance. The federal legislator must bring clarity to legal regulation of this issue; and the prohibition against directed refusal, established by the 2012 decree of the Supreme Court, may not apply to legal relations which have arisen prior to its issuance.

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Subject area:
Civil Law inheritance