CASE OF PINTÉR v. HUNGARY
(Application no. 13204/11)
15 October 2015
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Pintér v. Hungary,
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Elisabeth Steiner, President,
Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska,
Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque, judges,
and André Wampach, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 22 September 2015,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 13204/11) against Hungary lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Hungarian national, Ms Károly Józsefné Pintér (“the applicant”), on 22 February 2011.
2. The Hungarian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr Z. Tallódi, Agent, Ministry of Justice.
3. On 15 January 2015 the application was communicated to the Government.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
4. The applicant was born in 1954 and lives in Csengőd.
5. After the death of the applicant’s father, his second wife brought an action about the inheritance against the applicant on 13 February 2004.
6. At first instance, the court partly found for the applicant on 21 December 2007 but, on appeal, the Szeged Court of Appeal quashed the decision and remitted the case.
7. In the resumed proceedings, the second-instance court quashed a decision again on 22 February 2010, as confirmed by the Supreme Court on 8 December 2010.
8. In the proceedings resumed again, the Bács-Kiskun County Regional Court partly found for the applicant on 27 May 2010. The judgment became final on 4 September 2010.
9. The applicant complained that the length of the proceedings had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
10. The Government contested that argument.
11. The period to be taken into consideration began on 13 February 2004 and ended on 4 September 2010. It thus lasted six years and seven months for three levels of jurisdiction.
In view of such lengthy proceedings, this complaint must be declared admissible.
12. The Court has frequently found violations of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention in cases raising issues similar to the one in the present application (see, among many other authorities, Frydlender v. France [GC], no. 30979/96, § 43, ECHR 2000-VII).
13. Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court considers that the Government have not put forward any fact or convincing argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion in the present circumstances. Having regard to its case-law on the subject, the Court considers that 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.
14. Relying on Article 41, the applicant claimed 10,000 euros (EUR) in respect of pecuniary damage and EUR 15,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
15. The Government contested these claims.
16. 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 considers that the applicant must have sustained some non-pecuniary damage. Ruling on the basis of equity, it awards her EUR 1,350 under that head.
17. The applicant also claimed EUR 3,500 for the costs and expenses incurred before the Court.
18. The Government contested this claim.
19. 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 not represented by a lawyer, EUR 500 for all costs.
20. 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 complaint 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 applicant, 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 1,350 (one thousand three hundred and fifty euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 500 (five hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant, 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 applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 15 October 2015, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
André Wampach Elisabeth Steiner
Deputy Registrar President