(Application no. 1198/04)
14 December 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 Vnuchko v. Ukraine,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Mr P. Lorenzen, President,
Mrs S. Botoucharova,
Mr V. Butkevych,
Mrs M. Tsatsa-Nikolovska,
Mr R. Maruste,
Mr J. Borrego Borrego,
Mrs R. Jaeger, judges,
and Mrs C. Westerdiek, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 20 November 2006,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
4. The applicant was born in 1954 and resides in the town of Zhovti Vody, Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine.
7. On 9 February 2001 the Zhovti Vody Town Bailiffs' Service (Відділ Державної виконавчої служби Жовтоводського міського управління юстиції) initiated the enforcement proceedings.
11. By letters of 3 October and 27 November 2003, the Bailiffs' Service informed the applicant that the enforcement proceedings had been stayed because of the bankruptcy proceedings initiated against the debtor by a decision of 27 December 2001 of the Commercial Court of the Dnipropetrovsk Region. The Bailiffs' Service also stated that, according to the Law on the Introduction of a Moratorium on the Forced Sale of Property, on 26 December 2001 a ban on the forced sale of assets belonging to undertakings in which the State holds at least 25% of the share capital had been introduced.
12. By letter of 6 February 2004, the Bailiffs' Service informed the applicant that the enforcement proceedings had been resumed and that the judgments in the applicant's favour would be enforced gradually in accordance with his place in the list of creditors. However, according to the applicant, the judgments remain unenforced.
13. By the decree of 5 October 2004 the Ministry of Fuel and Energy of Ukraine liquidated the debtor company.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
14. The relevant domestic law is summarised in the judgment of Romashov v. Ukraine (no. 67534/01, §§ 16-18, 27 July 2004).
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 4 OF THE CONVENTION
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION AND ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL NO. 1
Article 6 § 1
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ... everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. ...”
Article 1 of Protocol No. 1
“Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.
The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest ....”
18. The Court concludes that the applicant's complaint under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the delay in the enforcement of the judgments of the Zhovtovodskyy Town Court is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible. For the same reasons, the applicant's complaint under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 cannot be declared inadmissible.
19. The Government maintained that the responsibility of the State in this situation was limited to the organisation and proper conduct of enforcement proceedings and that the length of the enforcement proceedings had been caused by the critical financial situation of the debtor company.
21. The Court notes that the judgments in the applicant's favour have not been enforced for more than five years and eight months, and three years and seven months, respectively.
23. Having examined all the materials 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.
24. There has, accordingly, been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention and of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.
III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
25. 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.”
B. Costs and expenses
C. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
1. Declares the complaints under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 admissible and the remainder of the application inadmissible;
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 1 of Protocol No. 1 of the Convention;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the judgments' debts still owed to him, as well as EUR 2,300 (two thousand three hundred euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage plus any tax that may be chargeable;
(b) that the above amount shall be converted into the national currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(c) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount 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 14 December 2006, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Claudia Westerdiek Peer Lorenzen
1. At the material time around 1,793.02 euros “EUR”.
2. At the material time around 268.37 EUR.
3. Last known to the Court to be UAH 9,835.49 (currently around EUR 1,597.53).