(Application no. 26892/05)
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 Igarienė and Petrauskienė v. Lithuania,
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Ireneu Cabral Barreto,
Nona Tsotsoria, judges,
and Sally Dollé, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 30 June 2009,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
“The rights of a former owner to particular property have not been restored until the property is returned or appropriate compensation is afforded. The law does not itself provide any rights while it is not applied to a concrete person in respect of a specific property. In such a situation the legal effect of a decision by a competent authority to return the property or to provide compensation is such that only from that moment does the former owner obtain property rights to a specific property.”
The Constitutional Court also held that fair compensation for property which could not be returned in kind was compatible with the principle of the protection of property.
Article 8 Conditions and procedures for the restoration of ownership rights to residential houses, portions thereof and flats
“1. Ownership rights to residential houses, portions thereof and flats shall be restored to persons specified in Article 2 of this Law by returning them in kind, except for residential houses, portions thereof and flats which are subject to a State buyout pursuant to Article 15 of this Law...”
Article 15 Residential houses, portions thereof and flats bought out by the State
“Residential houses, portions thereof and flats shall be bought out by the State from the citizens specified in Article 2 of this Law, who shall be compensated in accordance with Article 16 of this Law, provided that such residential houses, portions thereof or flats:
(1) have been converted into premises unfit for human occupancy and used for educational, health care protection, cultural or scientific purposes, or by communal care residences. The list of such premises shall be approved by the Government...”
Article 16 Compensation to citizens for real property bought out by the State
“1. The State shall compensate citizens for existing real property which is bought out by the State, as well as for real property which existed prior to 1 August 1991 but subsequently ceased to exist as a result of decisions adopted by the State or local authorities.
2. When the State compensates citizens for real property which, in accordance with this Law, is not returned in kind, the principle of equal value shall be applied to both the property that is not returned and other property which is transferred instead of it as compensation for the property bought out by the State. ...
7. Compensation for buildings used for economic and commercial purposes, residential houses, portions thereof and flats which are not returned pursuant to this Law shall be established in accordance with the methods approved by the Government. ...”
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...”
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL No. 1 TO THE CONVENTION
“Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.
The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.”
A. The parties' arguments
1. The applicants' inability to recover the disputed premises in kind
2. The applicants' inability to enjoy their possessions
III. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONVENTION
IV. 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 UNANIMOUSLY
(a) that the respondent State is to
pay each of the applicants, within three months from the date on
which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2
of the Convention, EUR 4,500
(four thousand five hundred euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage, plus any tax that may be chargeable, which sum is to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(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.
Sally Dollé Françoise