Cover Page

Cite item


The principle of proportionality is one of the fundamental legal principles defining the limits of state authority. The principle of proportionality, among other things, is the basis of legal responsibility and ensures the justice of the punishment being imposed. The roots of the requirement of proportionali-ty of punishment to the committed offense goes to the early history of mankind, the first institutions for responding to crimes - blood feud and talion - were based on the idea of proportionality. The univer-sality of these institutions in the history of mankind also attests to the universality of the principle of proportionality. Gradually, in the process of developing social relations, a transition was made from di-rect physical punishment, which was supposed to be blood vengeance and talion, to material compensa-tion for damage. At the same time, modern approaches to determining the proportionality of punishment for an offense arose. Today, the principle of proportionality underlies the legislative regulation and practical imple-mentation of legal responsibility in all democratic countries. It is actively applied in the practice of na-tional and international courts for the protection of human rights. The principle of proportionality re-quires that a balance of competing interests be found when establishing the sanction, and not only how the sanctioning measures will help protect public and private interests, but also what impact they will have on the person who violated the law. The principle of proportionality presupposes the duty of the legislator to provide in the normative legal acts such sanctions that ensure the proportionality of the act and punishment, and the duty of the courts to exercise their proper application. The analysis of the leg-islation and jurisprudence of Russia, the United States, Canada and Germany makes it possible to iden-tify some of the generally accepted methods of legislative regulation of sanctions (qualified offenses, differentiated sanctions, the possibility of imposing punishment below the lowest limit), ensuring the implementation of the requirement of proportionality, as well as judicial verification of proportionality of legislative sanctions and enforcement decisions (proportionality test).

About the authors

Alexander A Bazhanov

RUDN University

Alexander А. Bazhanov, Postgraduate Student, Theory of Law and State Department, Law Institute, RUDN University. 6, Miklukho-Maklaya st., Moscow, Russia, 117198


  1. Alekseev, S. S. (1981) Obshchaya teoriya prava. Kurs v 2 tomakh. Tom 1 [General Theory of Law. Course in 2 Volumes. Volume 1]. Moscow, Yuridicheskaya literature publ. (in Russian) Алексеев С.С. Общая теория права. Курс в 2 т. Том 1. М. : Юридическая литература, 1981.
  2. Baker, R. B. (2008) Proportionality in the Criminal Law: The Differing American versus Canadian Approaches to Punishment. Miami Inter-American Law Review. 39(3), 483-502.
  3. Barak, A. (2012) Proportionality. Constitutional Rights and their Limitations. Translated from the Hebrew by Kalir, D. Cambridge; New York, Cambridge University Press, 2012. Available from: doi: 10.1017/cbo9781139035293.
  4. Jhering von, R. (1875) Dukh rimskogo prava na razlichnykh stupenyakh ego razvitiya. Chast' 1 [Geist des römischen Rechts auf den verschiedenen Stufen seiner Entwicklung. Teil 3. Bd. 1] Translated from German. Saint Petersburg, Tipografiya V. Bezobrazova i K°. (in Russian) Иеринг фон Р. Дух римского права на различных ступенях его развития. Часть 1 / пер с немецкого. СПб. : Типография В. Безобразова и К°, 1875.
  5. Khachaturov, R. L. (1988) Stanovlenie prava (na materiale Kievskoi Rusi) [The Formation of Law (on the Material of Kievan Rus)]. Tbilisi, Tbilisskii universitet publ. (in Russian) Хачатуров Р.Л. Становление права (на материале Киевской Руси). Тбилиси : Издательство Тбилисского университета, 1988.
  6. Klimenko, T. M. (2011). Spravedlivost' kak printsip prava [Justice as a Principle of Law]. Vektor nauki Tol'yattinskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya: Yuridicheskie nauki [Science Vector of Togliatti State University Series: Law]. (1), 135-137. (in Russian) Клименко Т.М. Справедливость как принцип права // Вектор науки Тольяттинского государственного университета. Серия: Юридические науки. 2011. № 1. С. 135-137.
  7. Krasavchikov, O. A. (1973) Otvetstvennost', mery zashchity i sanktsii v sovetskom grazhdanskom prave [Responsibility, Measures of Protection and Sanctions in the Soviet Civil Law]. In: Problemy grazhdansko-pravovoi otvetstvennosti i zashchity grazhdanskikh prav: Sbornik uchenykh trudov. Vyp. 27 [Problems of Civil Liability and Protection of Civil Rights: Collection of Scientific Works. Issue. 27]. Sverdlovsk, Sverdlovskii gosudarstvennyi institute publ. pp. 5-16. (in Russian) Красавчиков О.А. Ответственность, меры защиты и санкции в советском гражданском праве // Проблемы гражданско-правовой ответственности и защиты гражданских прав: Сборник ученых трудов. Вып. 27. Свердловск: Издательство Свердловского юридического института, 1973. С. 5-16.
  8. Krasnov, A. V. (2013) Soderzhanie sanktsii norm prava v svete informatsionnopsikhologicheskogo podkhoda k issledovaniyu pravovykh yavlenii [Content of Legal Norms’ Sanctions in Information-psychological Approach to the Research of Legal Phenomena]. Aktual'nye problemy ekonomiki i prava [Actual Problems of Economics and Law]. (4), 226-232. (in Russian) Краснов А.В. Содержание санкций норм права в свете информационнопсихологического подхода к исследованию правовых явлений // Актуальные проблемы экономики и права. 2013. № 4. С. 226-232.
  9. Lacey, N. & Pickard, H. (2015) The Chimera of Proportionality: Institutionalising Limits on Punishment in Contemporary Social and Political Systems. Modern Law Review. 78(2), 216-240. Available from: doi: 10.1111/1468-2230.12114.
  10. Leist, O. E. (1981) Sanktsii i otvetstvennost' po sovetskomu pravu [Sanctions and Responsibility under Soviet Law]. Moscow, Moskovskii universitet publ. (in Russian) Лейст О.Э. Санкции и ответственность по советскому праву. М.: Издательство Московского университета, 1981.
  11. Malinovskii, A. A. (1988) Ugolovnoe pravo zarubezhnykh gosudarstv [Criminal Law of Foreign States]. Moscow, Novyi yurist. (in Russian) Малиновский А.А. Уголовное право зарубежных государств. М.: Новый юрист, 1988.
  12. Mal'tsev, G. V. (2012) Mest' i vozmezdie v drevnem prave [Revenge and Retribution in Ancient Law]. Moscow, Norma: INFRA-M. (in Russian) Мальцев Г.В. Месть и возмездие в древнем праве. М.: Норма: ИНФРА-М, 2012.
  13. Migacheva, A. Yu. (2014) Sorazmernost' kak kriterii printsipa spravedlivosti v grazhdanskom prave [Proportionality as a Criterion of the Principle of Justice in the Civil Law]. Teoriya i praktika obshchestvennogo razvitiya [Theory and Practice of Social Development]. (14), 130-132. (in Russian) Мигачева А.Ю. Соразмерность как критерий принципа справедливости в гражданском праве // Теория и практика общественного развития. 2014. № 14. С. 130-132.
  14. Millen, P. (1984) Interpretation of the Eighth Amendment - Rummel, Solem, and the Venerable Case of Weems v. United States. Duke Law Journal. 1984(4), 789-804. Available from: doi: 10.2307/1372420.
  15. Musatkina, A. A. (2015) Ob obshchem ponyatii sanktsii normy prava [On the General Definition of Sanction in a Legal Norm]. Aktual'nye problemy rossiiskogo prava [Actual Problems of Russian Law]. (1), 32-38. (in Russian) Мусаткина А.А. Об общем понятии санкции нормы права // Актуальные проблемы российского права. 2015. № 1. С. 32-38.
  16. Panova, A. S. (2015) Znachenie pravovoi kategorii “sanktsiya” [On Meaning of a Legal Category of “Sanction”]. Aktual'nye problemy ekonomiki i prava [Actual Problems of Economics and Law]. (2), 204-213. (in Russian) Панова А.С. Значение правовой категории «санкция» // Актуальные проблемы экономики и права. 2015. № 2. С. 204-213.
  17. Raymond, M. (2006) “No Fellow in American Legislation”: Weems v. United States and the Doctrine of Proportionality. Vermont Law Review. 30(2), 251-301. Available from: doi: 10.2139/ssrn.634261.
  18. Romero, L. M. (2008) Punitive Damages, Criminal Punishment, and Proportionality: the Importance of Legislative Limits. Connecticut Law Review. 41(1), 109-160.
  19. Rouland, N. (1988) Yuridicheskaya antropologiya: Uchebnik dlya vuzov [Anthropologie juridique]. Translated from French by Danchenko, L. P., Kovler, A. I., Pinyal'ver, T. M., Zologina, O. E. (1999). Moscow, NORMA publ. (in Russian) Рулан Н. Юридическая антропология. Учебник для вузов / пер. с франц. Л.П. Данченко, А.И. Ковлера, Т.М. Пиняльвер, О.Э. Зологиной. М. : Издательство НОРМА, 1999.
  20. Sharogoodskii, M. D. (1957) Nakazanie po ugolovnomu pravu ekspluatatorskogo obshchestva [Punishment on the Criminal Law of the Exploitative Society]. Moscow, Gosyurizdat. (in Russian) Шарогоодский М.Д. Наказание по уголовному праву эксплуататорского общества. М. : Госюриздат, 1957.
  21. Suleimanova, S. T. (2013) Naznachenie nakazaniya v ugolovnom prave Kanady [The Appointment of Punishment in the Criminal Law of Canada ]. Lex Russica. XCV(10), 1133-1145. (in Russian) Сулейманова С.Т. Назначение наказания в уголовном праве Канады // Lex Russica. 2013. Том. XCV. № 10. С. 1133-1145.
  22. Sulkhanishvili, G. (2016) Judicial Review, Proportionality and Criminal Punishments: A Comparative Analysis of the United States, Germany and Georgia. L.L.M. Short Thesis. Budapest, Central European University. Available from: giorg.pdf. [Accessed 1 May 2017].
  23. Sullivan, E.T. & Frase, R.S. (2008) Proportionality Principles in American Law: Controlling Excessive Government Action. Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press. Available from: doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195324938.001.0001.
  24. Taribo, E. V. (2014) Konstitutsionnaya proverka zakonodatel'stva ob administrativnykh pravonarusheniyakh: aktual'nye problem [Constitutional Control of Legislation on Administrative Offences: Modern Issues]. Zhurnal konstitutsionnogo pravosudiya [Journal of Constitutional Justice]. (5), 32-38. (in Russian) Тарибо Е.В. Конституционная проверка законодательства об административных правонарушениях: актуальные проблемы // Журнал конституционного правосудия. 2014. № 5. С. 32-38.
  25. Zhidkikh, I. V. (2007) K voprosu o zakonodatel'nom opredelenii printsipa spravedlivosti [On Legislative Definition of a Principle of Justice]. Vestnik Adygeiskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 1: Regionovedenie: filosofiya, istoriya, sotsiologiya, yurisprudentsiya, politologiya, kul'turologiya [The Bulletin of Adyghe State University. Series 1: Regional Studies: Philosophy, History, Sociology, Jurisprudence, Political Science, Culturology]. (1), 248-252. (in Russian) Жидких И.В. К вопросу о законодательном определении принципа справедливости // Вестник Адыгейского государственного университета. Серия 1: Регионоведение: философия, история, социология, юриспруденция, политология, культурология. 2007. № 1. С. 248-252.
  26. Zhidkikh, I. V. (2015) Kriterii i printsipy naznacheniya nakazaniya v ugolovnom zakonodatel'stve Kanady i SShA [Criteria and Principles of Punishment Imposition in the Criminal Legislation of Canada and U.S.A.]. Mezhdunarodnoe ugolovnoe pravo i mezhdunarodnaya yustitsiya [International Criminal Law and International Justice]. (6), 17-19. (in Russian) Жидких И.В. Критерии и принципы назначения наказания в уголовном законодательстве Канады и США // Международное уголовное право и международная юстиция. 2015. № 6. С. 17-19.
  27. Zolotarev, A.P. (2016) Ob obshcheteoreticheskom ponimanii yuridicheskoi otvetstvennosti [About General Understanding of Legal Liability]. Izvestiya Yugo-Zapadnogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya: Istoriya i parvo [Proceedings of South-West State University. Series History and Law]. (2), 40-48. (in Russian) Золотарев А.П. Об общетеоретическом понимании юридической ответственности // Известия Юго-Западного государственного университета. Серия: История и право. 2016. № 2. С. 40-48.

Copyright (c) 2017 Bazhanov A.A.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies