(Application no. 39299/02)
16 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 Mužević v. Croatia,
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Mr C.L. Rozakis, President,
Mr L. Loucaides,
Mrs F. Tulkens,
Mrs N. Vajić,
Mr A. Kovler,
Mrs E. Steiner,
Mr K. Hajiyev, judges,
and Mr S. Quesada, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 24 October 2006,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
A. Enforcement proceedings no. I-2217/88 (I-139/89)
B. Enforcement proceedings no. I-2219/88 (I-162/90, Ovr-750/05)
37. On 11 January 2005 the court set aside its decisions of 15 April and 22 May 1991 and discontinued the enforcement in its part ordering the debtor to advance the costs. Thus, from then on it was for the applicant, pursuant to the writ of 15 September 1988, to procure the goods and submit the invoice, whereupon she could apply to the court for a decision ordering the debtor to cover the costs. Both parties appealed.
C. Enforcement proceedings no. I-381/89 (Ovr-237/04)
D. Enforcement proceedings nos. I-90/92 and I-97/93 (subsequently joined under no. I-90/92)
1. Enforcement proceedings no. I-90/92
2. Enforcement proceedings no. I-97/93
3. Joined enforcement proceedings under no. I-90/92
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
“(1) The Constitutional Court shall examine a constitutional complaint whether or not all legal remedies have been exhausted if the competent court fails to decide a claim concerning the applicant's rights and obligations or a criminal charge against him or her within a reasonable time ...
(2) If a constitutional complaint ... under paragraph 1 of this section is upheld, the Constitutional Court shall set a time-limit within which the competent court must decide the case on the merits...
(3) In a decision issued under paragraph 2 of this section, the Constitutional Court shall assess appropriate compensation for the applicant for the violation of his or her constitutional rights ... The compensation shall be paid out of the State budget within three months from the date a request for payment is lodged.”
“The Constitutional Court shall institute proceedings pursuant to a constitutional complaint lodged under section 63 of the Constitutional Act [on the Constitutional Court] for the length of proceedings only in cases where the court has not decided within a reasonable time on the merits of the rights and obligations of the complainant, that is, where it has failed to deliver a decision on the merits within a reasonable time.
In the present case the constitutional complaint has been lodged for non-enforcement of a final decision by which the party's rights and obligations had already been decided.
Taking into consideration the above cited provisions of the Constitutional Act [on the Constitutional Court] ..., the Constitutional Court is of the opinion that in this case the conditions for applicability of section 63 were not met.”
In its decision no. U-IIIA/781/2003 of 14 May 2004 the Constitutional Court provided further interpretation of section 63:
“Taking into consideration the above cited provisions of the Constitutional Act [on the Constitutional Court] and the fact that the constitutional complaint was not lodged for a failure to deliver a decision within a reasonable time but rather because the enforcement was not carried out, the Constitutional Court is of the opinion that in this case the conditions for applicability of section 63 were not met.”
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...”
1. Exhaustion of domestic remedies
2. Compliance with the six month rule
86. The Court has frequently found violations of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention in cases raising issues similar to the one in the present case (see, for example, Poláčik v. Slovakia, no. 58707/00, 15 November 2005; Heger v. Slovakia, no. 62194/00, 17 May 2005; and Estima Jorge v. Portugal, judgment of 21 April 1998, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1998 II).
There has accordingly been a breach of Article 6 § 1.
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
93. The applicant did not submit a claim for the costs and expenses. Accordingly, the Court considers that there is no call to award her any sum on that account.
C. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
(a) that the respondent State shall secure, by appropriate means, the enforcement of the in-court settlement of 28 May 1986 and the judgment of 9 January 1989;
(b) 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 4,800 (four thousand eight hundred euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage, to be converted into the national currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement, plus any tax that may be chargeable;
(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;
Done in English, and notified in writing on 16 November 2006, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Santiago Quesada Christos Rozakis
Deputy Registrar President