CASE OF LÁZÁR v. HUNGARY
(Application no. 44319/11)
1 October 2015
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Lázár v. Hungary,
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Khanlar Hajiyev, President,
Dmitry Dedov, judges,
and André Wampach, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 8 September 2015,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 44319/11) against Hungary, lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by Hungarian nationals, Mr Attila Lázár and Mrs Attiláné Lázár (“the applicants”), on 18 July 2011.
2. The applicants were represented by Mr T. Fazekas, a lawyer practising in Budapest. The Hungarian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr Z. Tallódi, Agent, Ministry of Justice.
3. On 4 March 2015 the application was communicated to the Government.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
4. The applicants were born in 1948 and live in Budapest.
5. The applicants have had a long-lasting legal dispute with a housing cooperative and two individuals in respect of ownership right to a real property. The applicants’ several claims for title were dismissed by the competent courts.
6. The applicants lodged an action in damages against the housing cooperative and the two individuals on 15 October 2002.
7. The procedure was suspended on 17 December 2004 for eighteen months due to other pending proceedings before the land registry authority.
8. Subsequently, after several hearings, the first-instance court partly found for the applicants on 9 March 2010.
9. On appeal, the Budapest Court of Appeal reversed the judgment and dismissed the applicants’ claim on 30 November 2010.
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION
10. The applicants complained that the length of the proceedings had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement, laid down in Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
11. The Government contested that argument.
12. The period to be taken into consideration began on 15 October 2002 and ended on 30 November 2010. It thus lasted eight years, one month and fifteen days for two levels of jurisdiction.
13. The Court notes that the application is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
14. The Court reiterates that the reasonableness of the length of proceedings must be assessed in the light of the circumstances of the case and with reference to the following criteria: the complexity of the case, the conduct of the applicants and the relevant authorities and what was at stake for the applicants in the dispute (see, among many other authorities, Frydlender v. France [GC], no. 30979/96, § 43, ECHR 2000-VII).
15. The Court has frequently found violations of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention in cases raising issues similar to the one in the present case (see Frydlender, cited above).
16. Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court considers that the Government have not put forward any fact or argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion in the present case. Having regard to its case-law on the subject, the Court considers that in the instant case the length of the proceedings was excessive and failed to meet the “reasonable time” requirement.
There has accordingly been a breach of Article 6 § 1.
II. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
17. 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.”
18. The applicants claimed 10,000 euros (EUR) per capita in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage.
19. The Government contested the claim.
20. The Court does not discern any causal link between the violation found and the pecuniary damage alleged; it therefore rejects this claim. On the other hand, it awards the applicants jointly EUR 3,200 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
B. Costs and expenses
21. The applicants also claimed EUR 1,143 for the costs and expenses incurred before the Court.
22. The Government contested the claim.
23. According to the Court’s case-law, an applicant is entitled to the reimbursement of costs and expenses only in so far as it has been shown that these have been actually and necessarily incurred and are reasonable as to quantum. In the present case, regard being had to the documents in its possession and the above criteria, the Court considers it reasonable to award the applicant, who was represented by a lawyer, the sum of EUR 1,000 for all costs incurred.
C. Default interest
24. 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,
1. Declares the application admissible;
2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicants jointly, within three months, the following amounts, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 3,200 (three thousand two hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 1,000 (one thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants, in respect of costs and expenses;
(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;
4. Dismisses the remainder of the applicants’ claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 1 October 2015, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
André Wampach Khanlar Hajiyev
Deputy Registrar President