(Application no. 5989/03)
28 September 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 Iversen v. Denmark,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Mrs S. Botoucharova,
Mr P. Lorenzen,
Mr K. Jungwiert,
Mr V. Butkevych,
Mrs M. Tsatsa-Nikolovska,
Mr R. Maruste,
Mr M. Villiger, judges,
and Mrs C. Westerdiek, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 4 September 2006,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
A. The circumstances of the case
B. Relevant domestic law and practise
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal...”
Period to be taken into consideration
Reasonableness of the length of the proceedings
The Parties' submissions
60. The Government maintained that the case was complex which influenced the length of the proceedings considerably. They recalled inter alia that it was necessary to submit the matter to the Medico Legal Council five times with several questions to be answered, and that the latter had to involve more deliberating experts than usual. Also, it was necessary to procure an opinion twice from the National Board of Industrial Injuries.
The Court's assessment
70. Moreover, the Court recalls that the applicant's lawyer at no time objected to questions being put to either the Medico-Legal Council or to the National Board of Industrial Injuries, or in general to adjournments of the proceedings, on the contrary, the lawyer often requested the adjournments himself. More importantly, with reference to the examples provided by the Government, the Court agrees with their contention that the conduct of the applicant's counsel significantly contributed to the delay in the examination of the case. Thus, in the Court's view, the applicant and her counsel were responsible for prolonging the proceedings considerably.
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
(i) DKK 4,000 inclusive of VAT for estimated expenses incurred during the domestic proceedings relating to travel, telephone, postage and “other expenses”;
(ii) DKK 1,662 inclusive of VAT for travel expenses during the proceedings before the Court (from her home address to Copenhagen)
(iii) DKK 77,630 plus VAT for work carried out by counsel in the proceedings before the Court, comprising at least fifty-three hours used by counsel and at least forty-three hours by his legal assistants.
(i) With regard to expenses before the City Court, those had already been paid by the defendant in the amount of DKK 54,000 in accordance with the City Court judgment of 21 August 2000. With regard to expenses before the High Court the latter decided on 22 November 2002 that each party should pay their own costs and expenses. Hence, the claim in question could only relate to the appeal proceedings. However, unless the applicant could provide supporting documents for her claim, the Government contested it.
(ii) Since this claim also lacked supporting documentation as provided by Rule 60 § 2 of the Rules of Court it should, in the Government's view, be rejected.
(iii) The amount was excessive. The Government noted in this respect that if the work performed was converted to a normal working week of thirty-seven hours, the hours spend corresponded to more than two and a half weeks. They found such time consumption disproportionate, in particular because the applicant's counsel previously had dealt with several other cases before the Court concerning the length of proceedings, including cases concerning medical injuries.
D. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
(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, EUR 6,000 (six thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage plus any tax that may be chargeable on this amount;
(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;
Done in English, and notified in writing on 28 September 2006, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Claudia Westerdiek Snejana Botoucharova
1 On 13 January 2006, the date on which the claim was submitted.