(Application no. 2792/02)
2 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 Zorc 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,
Mr V. Zagrebelsky,
Mrs A. Gyulumyan,
Mr David Thór Björgvinsson,
Mrs I. Ziemele, judges,
and Mr V. Berger, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 12 October 2006,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
On 17 September 1992 the applicant and J.Z. made a contract to engage in production of fish baits.
On 24 March 1993 the applicant removed some of the production material and tools from J.Z.'s premises where the production had been taking place.
On 7 April 1993 J.Z. requested the applicant to sell him the patent for the bait, if he wished to keep their business relationship active.
On 16 April 1993 the applicant made an offer to J.Z. to sell him the patent, which the latter refused.
On 26 April 1993 the applicant informed J.Z. that he wished to end their business relationship by cancelling the contract of co-operation, but the latter refused.
1. Proceedings concerning the nuisance claim and the interim measure
On 7 June 1993 the court upheld J.Z.'s request for an interim measure in part.
On 14 June 1993 the applicant replied to the claim and also appealed against the order issuing the interim measure. J.Z. cross-appealed.
Until 14 June 1994 the court held six hearings. On that day, the court partially stayed the proceedings because J.Z. had withdrawn the request for an interim measure in part. The court also allowed the applicant's appeal and annulled its decision of 7 June 1993.
J.Z. appealed against this decision to the Ljubljana Higher Court (Višje sodišče v Ljubljani).
On 28 June 1994 the Convention took effect with respect to Slovenia.
On 21 July 1994 the Ljubljana Higher Court dismissed the appeal concerning the interim measure.
On 1 January 1995, following the reform of the Slovenian judicial system, the Ljubljana District Court (Okrožno sodišče v Ljubljani) gained jurisdiction in the case which was still pending in the first-instance court in the part referring to the nuisance claim.
On 20 June 1995 the court upheld J.Z.'s nuisance claim. The judgment was served on the applicant on 15 November 1995.
On 9 July 1996 the court allowed the appeal and remitted the case to the first-instance court for re-examination.
On 10 February 1997, after the applicant had instituted proceedings against the Republic of Slovenia due to excessive length of proceedings (see below §§ 11-14), the applicant requested that the case be transferred to a new court in order to secure the impartiality of the adjudicator. After his request was dismissed by the Supreme Court (Vrhovno sodišče) on 29 October 1997, he sought a recusal of the first-instance court's judge presiding over the case. Also this request was dismissed, ultimately, by the deputy of the President of the Ljubljana District Court on 1 September 1999.
On 8 March 2000 the court held a hearing.
On 5 April 2000 the applicant filed preliminary written observations and adduced evidence.
On 5 April 2000 the court held a hearing and rejected J.Z.'s claim.
On 7 July 2000 the applicant lodged a reply to the appeal.
On 8 January 2002 the court dismissed both appeals.
2. Proceedings referring to the claim for damages
On 21 April 1998 the applicant filed preliminary written observations, raised his claim and requested that a date be set for a hearing.
On 8 January 1998 the court held a hearing.
On 14 December 1998 the court rejected the applicant's claim holding that the judge in charge of the case in the first-instance, conducted the proceedings in accordance with the legislation in force. The decision was served on the applicant on 15 March 1999.
On 16 June 1999 the court dismissed the appeal. The judgment was served on the applicant on 9 July 1999.
On 20 April 2000 the court dismissed the appeal.
On 11 June 2001 the Constitutional Court (Ustavno sodišče) declared the case inadmissible as it was manifestly ill-founded. The decision was served on the applicant on 10 July 2001.
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLES 6 § 1 AND 13 OF THE CONVENTION
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair ... 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. The first set of proceedings
It follows that this part of the application must be rejected for non-exhaustion within the meaning of Article 35 § 1 of the Convention.
2. The second set of proceedings
Ultimately, this application is manifestly ill-founded and must be declared inadmissible in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
Accordingly, this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be declared inadmissible in the meaning of Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
1. Article 6 § 1
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.”
A. Pecuniary damage
B. Non-pecuniary damage
C. Costs and expenses
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 1,000 (one thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 700 (seven hundred euros) in respect of costs and expenses, 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 2 November 2006, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Berger John Hedigan