In the spring, students working at an ABA Rule of Law Initiative-supported legal clinic in Armenia received a number of complaints from residents in Marmarashen and Ayntap. A major water supply company—the Water Supply Company of Armenia—had asked a court to order villagers to pay for services the company claimed to have provided between 2002 and 2010. The villagers disputed the claims. The company had hardly supplied any water between 2002 and 2007, they said. They reported that the water pipes in the village were partially corroded or otherwise damaged at that time.
The water company took advantage of the payment order mechanism, which does not obligate Armenian courts to check the veracity of claims for payment orders, and the villagers’ unawareness of their right to dispute the claims. The company demanded payments from each villager in the amount of 60,000–350,000 Armenian dram (about 165–1,000 in U.S. dollars).
In response, the legal clinic filed an objection against the water company’s claims on behalf of 20 households in Marmarashen and Ayntap. The objection argued that the water company’s claims were for services which had not been rendered, and were thus unlawful. As a result, payment orders for the period between 2002 and 2007 were dismissed.
Later, legal clinic students learned that another 50 households from the neighboring communities of Masis and Norabats were being asked to pay similar fees related to similar circumstances. The legal clinic filed objections on their behalf as well, helping secure the dismissal of the payment orders for the disputed time period.
Residents of the four villages said that the legal clinic’s help boosted their confidence in the legal system, inspiring them to defend their rights.
To learn more about our work in Armenia, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].