(Application no. 20526/02)
30 November 2006
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 Štavbe v. Slovenia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Mr J. Hedigan, President,
Mr B.M. Zupančič,
Mr C. Bîrsan,
Mrs A. Gyulumyan,
Mr E. Myjer,
Mr David Thór Björgvinsson,
Mrs I. Berro-Lefevre, judges,
and Mr V. Berger, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 9 November 2006,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. First set of proceedings
2. Second set of proceedings
On 21 May 1992 the court found the case out of its jurisdiction and transferred it to the Ljubljana Basic Court, Ljubljana Unit (Temeljno sodišče v Ljubljana, Enota Ljubljana). The applicant's appeal against this decision was rejected on 2 March 1993 for being too late.
On 28 June 1994 the Convention took effect with respect to Slovenia.
On 1 January 1995 the Ljubljana Local Court (Okrajno sodišče v Ljubljani) gained jurisdiction in the present case following the reform of the Slovenian judicial system.
On 12 October 2000 the court requested the Supreme Court to transfer the case to the Slovenjske Konjice Local Court. On 28 January 2001 the Supreme Court upheld the request and the case was transferred to the Slovenjske Konjice Local Court.
On 8 October 2002 and 16 December 2003 the court held hearings. The applicant did not attend the latter hearing and send a written excuse only after the hearing had been held. At his request the court scheduled a new hearing for 29 January 2004. This hearing was adjourned at the request of the applicant until 17 February 2004. At this hearing the court decided to deliver a written judgment.
The judgment dismissing the applicant's claim was served on the applicant on 27 February 2004.
On 28 October 2004 the court allowed one of the appeals, set aside the first-instance court's judgment and remitted the case for re-examination.
On 5 April 2005 the applicant appealed to the Celje Higher Court.
The proceedings are still pending.
3. Third set of proceedings
On 18 and 22 September 1997, by two separate decisions, the Slovenjske Konjice Court of Minor Offences convicted the applicant and imposed on him a fine, a three-month's ban on driving and payment of court fees. The decisions were served on the applicant on 29 September 1997.
On 7 October 1997 the applicant allegedly appealed against both decisions by a letter sent from Germany.
On 10 June and 24 August 1998 respectively, the decisions were enforced and the fines and fees imposed were recovered from the applicant. On 6 October 1998 the court informed the Slovenjske Konjice Administrative Unit of the applicant's ban on driving.
On 24 December 1998 the applicant informed the court that he had appealed against its decisions and that he had not yet received the decision in this respect from the appellate court.
On 9 October 2000 the applicant lodged a claim for restitution of fines collected from him following the decisions of 18 and 22 September 1997. He submitted to the court a certificate form the post office in Germany that he did mail a letter to the court in 1997 allegedly appealing against the two decisions.
His claim was considered as a request for the annulment of the finality clause (klavzula o pravnomočnosti) of the decisions of 18 and 22 September 1997.
On 5 February 2001 the Slovenjske Konjice Court of Minor Offences rejected the request.
On 16 February 2001 the applicant appealed.
On 18 September 2003 the applicant reiterated his claim for reimbursement of the fines and fees recovered from him together with interests.
On 23 September 2003 the court set aside the decisions of 22 September 1997 and issued decisions on the termination of the proceedings because the statute of limitations had passed. The decisions were served on the applicant on 30 September 2003.
On 13 October 2003 the court issued decisions for reimbursement of the fees and fines recovered from the applicant. The court fees and one part of fines recovered were paid to the applicant on 21 October 2003 and the other part of the fines on 17 November 2003.
4. Fourth set of proceedings
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLES 6 § 1 AND 13 OF THE CONVENTION
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal...”
“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”
1. First set of proceedings
It follows that all the applicant's complaints with regard to the first set of proceedings must be rejected for failure to comply with the six-months rule within the meaning of Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.
2. Second and third sets of proceedings
i. Second set of proceedings
ii. Third set of proceedings
Accordingly, this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
3. Fourth set of proceedings
1. Article 6 § 1
40. The Government acknowledged that what was at stake in the second set of proceedings was of importance to the applicant who did not substantially contribute to the delays in the proceedings. The latter occurred, due to the reform of the judiciary which took effect in 1995.
There has accordingly been a breach of Article 6 § 1.
2. Article 13
II. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
“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.”
B. Costs and expenses
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
Done in English, and notified in writing on 30 November 2006, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Berger John Hedigan