by Tudora ION and Others
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 7 July 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Boštjan M. Zupančič,
Luis López Guerra,
Ann Power, judges,
and Santiago Quesada, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 28 August 2006,
Having regard to the decision to examine the admissibility and merits of the case together (Article 29 § 3 of the Convention),
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicants, Ms Tudora Ion, Steluţa Ion and Paulina Toma, are Romanian nationals who were born in 1929, 1955 and 1957 respectively and live in Brăila. They were represented before the Court by Mr D.R. Artene, a lawyer practising in Galaţi. The Romanian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr. RăzvanHoraţiu Radu, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
On 19 February 1991, the applicants filed a civil action for sharing of an inheritance. By a judgment of 18 December 1992, the Brăila District Court allowed the claims in part, establishing the heirs and their quotas. The appeal against the said judgment was allowed on the ground that not all the heirs and assets were included in the judgment and consequently the judgment was quashed and the file sent back to the court of first instance for fresh examination.
Another judgment was rendered on 3 February 1995. By a decision of 17 May 1996, the Brăila County Court quashed again the judgment of the Brăila District Court on the ground that again it did not decide with respect to all the applicant’s claims. The appeal filed against the judgment of the Brăila District Court of 25 February 2002 was dismissed by the Brăila County Court on 10 April 2003.
Against the decision rendered in appeal on points of law, the applicants filed an extraordinary appeal, allowed by the Galaţi Court of Appeal on 23 March 2004. It quashed the decisions rendered in appeal on points of law and in appeal on the ground that the parties were not allowed to present their conclusions before the court and kept the file for decision on the merits.
Following the amendment of the provisions of the domestic code of civil procedure regarding the jurisdiction of the courts, the Galaţi Court of Appeal had to transfer the file to the Brăila County Court. The appeal on points of law filed against the decision rendered in appeal was dismissed by the Galaţi Court of Appeal on 28 February 2006.
The applicants complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the length of the proceedings. They invoked that the proceedings were instituted in 1991 and the final decision was rendered only in 2006.
The applicants also complained under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that due to the length of the proceedings, a certain uncertainty persisted with respect to the result of the sharing of the inheritance causing the degradation of their assets.
The Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I, Răzvan-Horaţiu Radu, Agent of the Government of Romania before the European Court of Human Rights, declare that the Government of Romania offer to pay ex gratia 3 200 (three thousand two hundred) euros jointly to Mrs. Tudora Ion, Mrs. Steluta Ion and Mrs. Paulina Toma with a view to securing a friendly settlement of the abovementioned case pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
This sum, which is to cover any pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage as well as costs and expenses, will be converted into the respondent State’s national currency at the rate applicable at the date of payment, and will be free of any taxes that may be applicable. It will be payable within three months from the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In the event of failure to pay this sum within the said three-month period, the Government undertake to pay simple interest on it, from expiry of that period until settlement, at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points. The payment will constitute the final resolution of the case.”
The Court received the following declaration signed by the applicants’ representative:
“I, Danut Romica Artene, attorney, note that the Government of Romania are prepared to pay ex gratia the sum of 3 200 (three thousand two hundred) euros jointly to Mrs. Tudora Ion, Mrs. Steluta Ion and Mrs. Paulina Toma with a view to securing a friendly settlement of the above-mentioned case pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
This sum, which is to cover any pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage as well as costs and expenses, will be converted into the respondent State’s national currency at the rate applicable at the date of payment, and will be free of any taxes that may be applicable. It will be payable within three months from the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. 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.
We accept the proposal and waive any further claims against Romania in respect of the facts giving rise to this application. We declare that this constitutes a final resolution of the case.”
The Court takes note of the friendly settlement reached between the parties. It is satisfied that the settlement is based on respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols and finds no public policy reasons to justify a continued examination of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention). In view of the above, it is appropriate to strike the case out of the list.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Santiago Quesada Josep Casadevall