CASE OF GASPARI v. SLOVENIA
(Application no. 21055/03)
21 July 2009
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 Gaspari v. Slovenia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Boštjan M. Zupančič,
Luis López Guerra,
Ann Power, judges,
and Santiago Quesada, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 30 June 2009,
Decides not to hold a hearing on the admissibility and merits of the case,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
“in accordance with the provisions of sections 6 and 56 of the Constitutional Court Act, the Constitutional Court served the constitutional appeal on the Supreme Court, on the opposite party (plaintiff) to the proceedings [the applicant] and on the third defendant in the proceedings. None of them replied to the constitutional appeal.”
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
A. The Constitutional Court Act
“For procedural questions which are not governed by this Act, the Constitutional Court shall apply the relevant provisions of legislation concerning [ordinary] court proceedings, taking into consideration the nature of the matter.”
“After being accepted, a constitutional appeal shall be referred to the body which issued the decision against which the constitutional appeal is lodged, in order for that body to reply to the constitutional appeal within a given time-limit.”
“1. If the Constitutional Court quashes a decision, it may also decide on a relevant right or freedom if such procedure is necessary in order to bring to an end consequences that have already occurred on the basis of the quashed decision, or if so required by the nature of the constitutional right or freedom, and provided that a decision can be given on the basis of information in the file.
“1. If the Constitutional Court accepts a constitutional appeal for consideration, it shall inform the body which issued the decision against which the constitutional appeal is lodged accordingly. A Constitutional Court judge .... can request the body ... to submit information or an explanation necessary for the decision on the constitutional appeal.
2. In the above circumstances, the constitutional appeal should be sent to the persons who participated in the proceedings leading to the decision challenged in the appeal if that decision concerned one of their rights, obligations or legal interests, so that they can reply to it within a certain time-limit.”
B. The Civil Procedure Act
C. The Constitutional Court's decisions concerning requests for reopening of the proceedings before it
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION ON ACCOUNT OF NON-COMMUNICATION OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL APPEALS TO THE APPLICANT
“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...”
1. Compliance with the six-month time-limit
2. Exhaustion of domestic remedies
1. The parties' arguments
2. The Court's assessment
II. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION
64. The Court reiterates that it is in the first place for the national authorities, notably the courts, to interpret and apply domestic law. It is not the Court's function to deal with errors of fact or law allegedly committed by a national court unless and in so far as they may have infringed rights and freedoms protected by the Convention (see Rekvényi v. Hungary [GC], no. 25390/94, § 35, ECHR 1999 III; Schenk v. Switzerland, 12 July 1988, § 45, Series A no. 140). It further reiterates that although Article 6 § 1 obliges courts to give reasons for their decisions, it cannot be understood as requiring a detailed answer to every argument (see Van de Hurk v. the Netherlands, 19 April 1994, § 61, Series A no. 288). In the instant case, the Court considers that there is no indication of unfairness in the manner in which these proceedings were conducted. The reasons on which the first-instance and second-instance courts based their decisions are sufficient to exclude any claim that the way in which they applied the law in the case was arbitrary.
67. Having regard to the reasons advanced in the Constitutional Court's decision which quashed the Supreme Court's judgment and upheld the lower courts' decisions, the Court considers that it cannot be said that they were insufficient such as to be in breach of Article 6, nor did they appear arbitrary (see, mutatis mutandis, García Ruiz v. Spain [GC], no. 30544/96, § 29, ECHR 1999 I).
68. As to the complaint that the Constitutional Court had not been a competent body established by law to determine the applicant's civil rights, the Government argued that this complaint concerned merely a question of procedural options available to the Constitutional Court. The latter had been in the best position to decide whether the case should have been remitted to the lower court or not. The Constitutional Court had explained its decision to rule on the merits of the claim, had had a legal basis to do so and had not acted arbitrarily. The Government submitted copies of decisions adopted in five unrelated cases in which the Constitutional Court had used these same powers.
III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 13 TAKEN ALONE AND OF ARTICLE 14 READ TOGETHER WITH ARTICLES 6 AND 13 OF THE CONVENTION
V. 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
C. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT
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 following amounts:
(i) EUR 4,000 (four thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii) 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 2,000 (two thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant, in respect of costs and expenses;
(b) 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 21 July 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Santiago Quesada Josep Casadevall