CASE OF ISTVÁN NAGY v. HUNGARY
(Application no. 121/11)
15 October 2015
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of István Nagy v. Hungary,
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Elisabeth Steiner, President,
Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque,
Erik Mřse, 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. 121/11) 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, Mr István Nagy (“the applicant”), on 14 December 2010.
2. The applicant was represented by Mr P. Szabó, a lawyer practising in Eger. The Hungarian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr Z. Tallódi, Agent, Ministry of Justice.
3. On 8 January 2015 the complaints concerning the length of the proceedings and the lack of remedies in that respect were communicated to the Government and the remainder of the application was declared inadmissible.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
4. The applicant was born in 1945 and lives in Novaj.
5. In the context of the protraction of a former administrative procedure concerning a land dispute, the applicant brought an official liability action on 12 May 2003.
6. The Heves Regional Court rejected the action but, on appeal, the second-instance court quashed the decision and remitted the case to it.
7. The first-instance court dismissed the claim again on 13 September 2007.
8. On appeal, the Budapest Regional Court of Appeal considered the first-instance judgment as an interlocutory decision and reversed it.
9. The second-instance court found for the applicant by pronouncing the liability of the administrative authority on 31 January 2008.
10. Concerning the amount of damages, the first-instance court delivered a judgment on 23 December 2009.
11. On appeal, the Budapest Court of Appeal essentially upheld this decision on 3 June 2010.
12. The applicant complained that the length of the proceedings had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
13. The Government contested that argument.
14. The period to be taken into consideration began on 12 May 2003 and ended on 3 June 2010. It thus lasted over seven years for two levels of jurisdiction.
In view of such lengthy proceedings, this complaint must be declared admissible.
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 application (see, among many other authorities, Frydlender v. France [GC], no. 30979/96, § 43, ECHR 2000-VII).
16. 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.
17. The applicant further complained of the fact that there was no effective remedy available to him in order to complain of the excessive length of proceedings. He relied on Article 13 of the Convention.
18. The Government did not express an opinion on the matter.
19. The Court has already found that there is no effective remedy available under Hungarian law to provide redress for complaints about the excessive length of civil proceedings (see Bartha v. Hungary, no. 33486/07, § 21, 25 March 2014). It sees no reason to hold otherwise in the present case.
It follows that there has been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention.
20. Relying on Article 41, the applicant claimed 4,000 euros (EUR) in respect of pecuniary damage and EUR 3,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
21. The Government contested these claims.
22. 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 him EUR 2,700 under that head.
23. The applicant also claimed EUR 3,000 for the costs and expenses incurred before the Court.
24. The Government contested this claim.
25. 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 EUR 1,000 for all costs incurred.
26. 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 complaints under Articles 6 § 1 and 13 admissible;
2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention;
3. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 13 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 2,700 (two thousand seven 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 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;
5. 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