Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 182
Guseva v. Bulgaria - 6987/07
Judgment 17.2.2015 [Section IV] See:  ECHR 171
Freedom to impart information
Freedom to receive information
Failure by mayor to comply with final judgments granting the applicant right to access information: violation
Facts - The applicant, a member and representative of an association active in the area of animal rights protection, obtained three final Supreme Administrative Court’s judgments requiring a mayor to provide her with information relating to the treatment of stray animals found on the streets of the town over which he officiated. The mayor did not comply with the judgments. In her application to the European Court the applicant complained under Article 10 of the Convention that the mayor’s conduct was in breach of her right to receive and impart information.
Law - Article 10: The applicant had sought access to information about the treatment of animals in order to exercise her role of informing the public on this matter of general interest and to contribute to public debate. The existence of her right of access to such information had been recognised both in the domestic legislation and in three final Supreme Administrative Court judgments. Therefore, the gathering of information with a view to its subsequent provision to the public fell within the ambit of the applicant’s freedom of expression.
Although the applicant had lodged the application in her private capacity and not on behalf of the association she represented, the information she sought to obtain was directly related to her work in the association. Consequently, she had been involved in the legitimate gathering of information of public interest for the purpose of contributing to public debate. Thus, the mayor’s failure to act in accordance with final court judgments and provide her with the information had constituted a direct interference with her right to receive and impart information.
At the material time, the judgments were final and enforceable under domestic law and the mayor’s failure to comply with them was thus unlawful. However, the national judicial practice accepted that the domestic law itself provided no clear time-frame for enforcement thus leaving the question to the good will of the administrative body responsible for the implementation of the judgment. Such a lack of a clear time-frame for enforcement created unpredictability as to the likely time of enforcement, which, in the applicant’s case, never materialised. The applicable domestic legislation therefore lacked the requisite foreseeability resulting in the interference with the applicant’s Article 10 rights not being “prescribed by law”.
Conclusion: violation (five votes to two).
The Court also found a violation of Article 13 read in conjunction with Article 10 as there had been no effective remedies capable of providing redress in respect of the applicant’s complaint and offering reasonable prospects of success.
Article 41: EUR 5,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
© Council of Europe/European Court of Human Rights
This summary by the Registry does not bind the Court.
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