(Application no. 10699/05)
10 October 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 Paulík v. Slovakia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Sir Nicolas Bratza,
Mr J. Casadevall,
Mr M. Pellonpää,
Mr S. Pavlovschi,
Mr L. Garlicki,
Ms L. Mijović,
Mr J. Šikuta, judges,
and Mr T.L. Early, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 19 September 2006,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
It was established that the applicant had had intercourse with the mother sometime between 180 and 300 days before I.’s birth. In such cases, a presumption of paternity arose under Article 54 of the Family Code, as worded at the time (see “Relevant domestic law and practice” below), unless there were important grounds to rebut the presumption. No such important grounds were, however, established.
The applicant maintained that there was a discrepancy between the legal position created by the judgment of 1970 and the real situation reflected in the DNA report of 2004 and that there were no legal means of removing that incongruity under the Code of Civil Procedure or the Family Code.
According to the applicant, neither the general public nor I. had any legitimate interest in maintaining that situation. Conversely, he had an interest in ensuring that the legal position and biological reality corresponded. The applicant also stated that the authorities had failed to take adequate positive measures to protect his rights.
As a result, he had wrongly been identified as I.’s father in various public documents and records, such as the registers of births and marriages. The information about his paternity had also been included in his medical records and employment files. His identity had thus been affected and he had no way of clarifying the matter. Moreover, in law he was related to I.’s family. Thus, in the event of need, she and her children would be able to oblige him to contribute to their maintenance. As I. was legally his daughter, she was also his heir, which limited his freedom of testamentary disposition.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
A. Family Code (Law no. 94/1963 Coll., as amended, in force until 31 March 2005)
B. Family Code (Law no. 36/2005 Coll., in force from 1 April 2005)
C. Code of Civil Procedure (Law no. 99/1963., as amended)
D. Civil Code
I. THE GOVERNMENT’S PRELIMINARY OBJECTION
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 8 OF THE CONVENTION
“1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life ....
2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
1. Submissions of the parties
2. The Court’s assessment
Accordingly, the facts of the case fall within the ambit of “private life” pursuant to Article 8.
There has therefore been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention.
III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLES 13 AND 14, READ IN CONJUNCTION WITH ARTICLE 8 OF THE CONVENTION
Article 13 of the Convention provides that:
“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.”
Under Article 14 of the Convention:
“The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in [the] Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.”
1. The complaint under Article 13, taken in conjunction with Article 8 of the Convention
2. The complaint under Article 14, taken in conjunction with Article 8 of the Convention
It follows that there has been a violation of Article 14, taken in conjunction with Article 8 of the Convention.
IV. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6, TAKEN BOTH ALONE AND IN CONJUNCTION WITH ARTICLES 13 AND 14 OF THE CONVENTION
Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, in so far as relevant, reads as follows:
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing ... by [a] ... tribunal....”
V. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL NO. 1, TAKEN BOTH ALONE AND IN CONJUNCTION WITH ARTICLE 13 OF THE CONVENTION
VI. 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.”
It also notes that pursuant to Articles 228 § 1 (d) and 230 § 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure civil proceedings can be reopened where the Court has found a violation of the requesting party’s Convention rights and where serious consequences of the violation are not adequately redressed by the award of just satisfaction.
Having regard to the above considerations and making an assessment on an equitable basis, it awards the applicant EUR 5,000 in respect of non pecuniary damage.
B. Costs and expenses
C. 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 5,000 (five thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 1,800 (one thousand eight hundred euros) in respect of costs and expenses, to be converted into Slovakian korunas at the rate applicable at the date of settlement, plus any tax that may be chargeable;
(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 10 October 2006, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
T.L. EARLY Nicolas BRATZA
1 SKK 12,167 is equivalent to approximately EUR 320.
2 SKK 60,897 is equivalent to approximately EUR 1,600.
3 SKK 19,950 is equivalent to approximately EUR 525.