October 10, 2007
Ruslan Yolchuyev, a lawyer for ABA ROLI’s Legal Advocacy Center (LAC) in Azerbaijan, recently won a major court case concerning inheritance law by helping his client regain the inheritance that had been wrongfully seized from him. The client lived, along with six other relatives, in an apartment owned by his father. When his father died intestate without leaving a will, the client and his relatives applied to the notary office to obtain official “certificates of inheritance.” Though the client was denied, the remaining six relatives, all of whom were also heirs to the estate, were granted the appropriate certificates.
The applicant filed a lawsuit with the court seeking recognition of his inheritance rights. While the application was pending, his relatives quickly sold the apartment without his consent. Despite being legally justified, the applicant lost his case at the trial level.
The client then applied to LAC for legal assistance. After reviewing the case, Yolchuyev prepared an additional application to the Appellate Court requesting that the court award the client an appropriate percentage of the funds from the sale of the inherited property. The Appellate Court reconsidered its original findings and ruled in favor of the client. As requested in the application, the other six shareholders were ordered to pay the applicant $80,000—his fair share of the proceeds from the sale.
The LAC is a project supported by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor under the ABA Rule of Law Initiative in Azerbaijan. Through its staff of fifteen young and enthusiastic attorneys, LAC provides free legal consultation, advice and representation to low-income clients on a wide variety of legal issues. Since its establishment in 2006, LAC has provided pro bono legal services to over two thousand clients, and has filed twelve appeals with the European Court of Human Rights in 2007 alone.