CASE OF NEDELCHEVA AND OTHERS v. BULGARIA
(Application no. 5516/05)
3 February 2015
This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Nedelcheva and Others v. Bulgaria,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Krzysztof Wojtyczek, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 13 January 2015,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 5516/05) against the Republic of Bulgaria lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by eight Bulgarian nationals, Ms Kera Genova Nedelcheva, Mr Geno Moskov Dzhingov, Ms Minka Moskova Halvadzhieva, Ms Frosina Dimitrova Gineva, Ms Magda Dimitrova Despotova, Mr Raycho Ginev Kostov, Ms Ginka Dimitrova Georgieva and Ms Todorka Dimitrova Dimitrova, (“the applicants”), on 14 January 2005.
2. The applicants were represented by Ms S. Margaritova-Vuchkova, a lawyer practising in Sofia. The Bulgarian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Ms M. Dimova, of the Ministry of Justice.
3. In a judgment delivered on 28 May 2013 (“the principal judgment”), the Court found a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, in particular on the ground that the authorities had failed to comply with a final court judgment awarding the applicants shares in a company named Duni AD, in compensation for agricultural land formerly owned by ancestors of theirs (see Nedelcheva and Others v. Bulgaria, no. 5516/05, §§ 64-70, 28 May 2013).
4. Since the question of the application of Article 41 of the Convention was not ready for decision, as the Court considered it possible that the respondent State and the applicants could reach an agreement, it reserved the said question and invited the parties to inform it, within three months of the principal judgment’s entry into force, of any agreement between them (ibid., § 93, and point 4 of the operative provisions).
5. On 27 November 2013 the Government notified the Court that the parties had held friendly-settlement negotiations. In another letter dated 24 January 2014 the Government informed the Court that following a preliminary agreement with the applicants they had transferred to them part of the shares, namely 17,700 shares (out of 56,997 shares due), with effect as of 18 November 2013.
6. However, on 18 July 2014 the Government informed the Court that the friendly-settlement negotiations had failed. Following that the Court invited the parties to submit their observations on the just satisfaction in the case.
7. The applicants submitted their just-satisfaction claims on 4 September 2014.
8. The Government did not comment on these claims.
9. Article 41 of the Convention provides:
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
10. The applicants did not contest the fact that they had already received 17,700 shares. They claimed the face value of the remaining 39,297 shares due, namely 39,297 Bulgarian levs (BGN), the equivalent of approximately 20,050 euros (EUR).
11. The applicants also claimed interest on the above sum, for the period from 29 January 2009, the date on which they had submitted to the Ministry of Economics the domestic judgments awarding them shares (see § 31 of the principal judgment), to 3 September 2014. The applicants calculated the amount of interest thus due at BGN 23,293.70, the equivalent of approximately EUR 11,885.
12. As already noted, the Government did not comment.
13. The Court finds the applicants’ claim to receive the face value of the shares still due to them justified. It notes that even before the adoption of the principal judgment the national authorities considered this possibility an “acceptable” means to discharge their obligation (see § 90 of the principal judgment). Accordingly, the Court awards the applicants the sum claimed under this head, namely EUR 20,050.
14. On the other hand, the Court sees no justification to award the applicants the additional sum claimed by them in compensation for the delay in the enforcement of the domestic judgment in their favour. It notes that in the principal judgment (see its § 92) it already awarded the applicants compensation for the excessive delays in the restitution procedures initiated by them.
B. Costs and expenses
15. The applicants claimed EUR 490 for the work of their legal representative following the principal judgement - for her participation in the friendly-settlement negotiations with the Government and for the preparation of their claims under Article 41 of the Convention. In support of this claim the applicants submitted a time-sheet. They requested that any sum awarded under this head be transferred directly into the bank account of their representative, Ms Margatitova-Vuchkova. The applicants claimed another BGN 111, the equivalent of EUR 57, paid by them for translation and postage for the proceedings under Article 41. They presented receipts and invoices for BGN 106.50, the equivalent of EUR 54.
16. The Government did not comment.
17. The Court considers the sum claimed for the work performed by the applicants’ lawyer reasonable, and awards it in full. As requested by the applicants, that sum is to be transferred directly into Ms Margaritova-Vuchkova’s bank account.
18. As concerns the remainder of the claim for costs and expenses, the Court awards the applicants the amount established by the receipts and invoices presented by them, namely EUR 54.
C. Default interest
19. The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicants, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts, to be converted into Bulgarian levs at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 20,050 (twenty thousand and fifty euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 544 (five hundred and forty-four euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants, in respect of costs and expenses, EUR 490 (four hundred and ninety euros) of which is to be transferred directly into the bank account of the applicants’ legal representative;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
2. Dismisses, the remainder of the applicants’ claims for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 3 February 2015, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Fatoş Aracı Guido
Deputy Registrar President