Cause of action

The generally accepted definition of cause of action — «основание иска» — both in Russia and in the rest of world, is that it is a set of facts which, if proven, allows for the civil suit to succeed. The facts needed for a specific cause of action are determined by the applicable legal theory and based on relevant rule of law.

In Russia plaintiffs must state the circumstances they intend to prove in the pleading that initiates a lawsuit (art. 125(2)(5) of the RF’s Code of Commercial Procedure and art. 131(2)(5) of the RF’s Code of Civil Procedure).

The facts of a case may be able to create multiple causes of action, depending on preferable remedy and which rule of law the plaintiff decides to rely on. Also, as the case advances, it may turn out that certain facts are more difficult to prove than others.

It would be practical and fair, therefore, to permit a plaintiff to state multiple causes of actions that arise from the same circumstances but are supported by different rules of law and constitute separate claims for relief. Yet, Russian courts do not allow alternative pleadings. A valid case can be lost because of reference to a wrong civil code article. By the time an unwary plaintiff realises the mistake, a good suit is lost and the limitation period to resume the process will have lapsed.