AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
by Vojtech GOLHA
against the Czech Republic
The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting on 1 September 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Zdravka Kalaydjieva, judges,
and Claudia Westerdiek, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 11 February 2006,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Vojtěch Golha, is a Czech national who was born in 1937 and lives in Stochov.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
On 2 May 1988 the applicant’s former wife instituted civil proceedings for the division of matrimonial property before the Kladno District Court (okresní soud).
Between January 1989 and August 1993 the District Court sought a valuation by five sworn experts of the movable and immovable property in dispute.
In February 1995 the Prague Regional Court (krajský soud), on the applicant’s appeal, quashed this judgment and remitted the case to the District Court which, in March 1995, ordered an expert report to assess the value of the real estate belonging to the matrimonial property. The report was drawn up in January 1997.
In March 1999 the District Court delivered a judgment by which newly decided on the distribution of the matrimonial property. In February 2000 the Regional Court, following the applicant’s appeal, quashed the judgment and sent the case back to the District Court which, on 5 June 2001, adopted a third judgment.
This judgment was modified by the Regional Court on 16 July 2002 upon the parties’ appeals.
In November 2002 the applicant lodged an appeal on points of law (dovolání) alleging, inter alia, that the real estate should not have been included in the matrimonial property as he had bought it with money he earned before he married.
In the meantime, on 28 February 2003, the District Court had ordered execution of the last two judgments. On 30 October 2003 it appointed an expert to evaluate the real estate.
On 29 January 2004 the Supreme Court (Nejvyšší soud) quashed the last two judgments and remitted the case to the District Court which, on 10 October 2006, discontinued the execution proceedings.
On 23 August 2004 the applicant’s ex-wife died, her husband joining the proceedings in her stead.
On 14 February 2007 the District Court divided the matrimonial property for the fourth time. On 21 September 2007 it corrected clerical errors in its judgment.
On 8 January 2008 the Regional Court quashed this judgment and sent the case back to the District Court which, on 6 March 2008 decided that ex-wife’s children also joined the proceedings as claimants. The District Court delivered its fifth judgment on the division of the property on 10 February 2009.
On 30 April 2009 the Regional Court, following the applicant’s appeal filed on 19 March 2009, quashed this judgment. On 24 June 2009 the District Court discontinued the proceedings as the claimants had withdrawn their claims. This decision was appealed by the applicant on 24 July 2009.
The proceedings are currently pending before the Regional Court.
II. Proceedings for damages
On 16 April 2007 the applicant filed a request to the Ministry of Justice under Act No. 82/1998 as amended claiming compensation for moral and material damages due to the unreasonable length of the main proceedings.
As the Ministry did not deal with his request within the six-month statutory time-limit, the applicant brought a civil action for damages in the Prague 2 District Court on 6 November 2007.
In a letter of 22 February 2008 the Ministry of Justice informed the applicant that his request had been granted, that it had been found that his right to a determination of his civil claim within a reasonable time had been violated and that he had been awarded the sum of CZK 85,000 (EUR 3,1941) in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
On 25 March 2008 the applicant submitted to the District Court complementary documents.
In a letter of 30 April 2009 the District Court informed the applicant that it could not pursue the examination of his claim for damages, the case-file having not yet been submitted by the courts involved in the main proceedings, despite its repetitive reminders.
It appears that the proceedings for damages are still pending before the District Court.
B. Relevant domestic law and practice
The relevant domestic law and practice concerning remedies for the allegedly excessive length of judicial proceedings are set out in the Court’s decision in the case of Vokurka v. the Czech Republic, no. 40552/02 (dec.), §§ 11-24, 16 October 2007).
Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, in so far as relevant, provides:
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal ....”
Article 13 of the Convention provides:
“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.”
The Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the file, determine the admissibility of these complaints and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 3 (b) of the Rules of the Court, to give notice of it to the respondent Government.
However, the Court observes that the proceedings on division of the matrimonial property are still pending. It therefore finds that this part of the application is premature and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 §§ 1, 3 and 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to adjourn the examination of the applicant’s complaints under Articles 6 § 1 and 13 of the Convention relating to the length of the proceedings on division of the matrimonial property and the alleged absence of an effective remedy in this respect;
Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.
Claudia Westerdiek Peer
1 1 EUR = 26.70 CZK