AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
by Jaroslav BARTL
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 6 October 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Nebojša Vučinić, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 23 June 2005,
Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Jaroslav Bartl, is a Slovak national who was born in 1941 and lives in Dunajská LuZná. The Slovak Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mrs M. Pirošíková.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
On 21 September 1995 the applicant requested an enforcement of the Bratislava Municipal Court’s decision of 1995, by which the defendant had been ordered to employ the applicant.
On 11 June 1996 the Bratislava I District Court ordered the enforcement.
On 30 May 1997 the applicant and the defendant concluded an employment contract.
On 6 November 1998, upon the District Court’s request, the applicant informed it that he wished to continue the enforcement.
On 21 January 2004 the District Court again asked the applicant if he wished to continue the proceedings.
In the applicant’s words, he requested the judgment of 1995 to be enforced because he had not been satisfied with the working conditions as provided for by the defendant. As a result, he had stopped going to work already in June 1997.
On 12 January 2005 the District Court discontinued the proceedings. It held that the defendant had complied with the obligation set out in the judgment of 1995 by concluding the contract with the applicant on 31 May 1997. The contract fulfilled the conditions stated in the judgment of 1995 and the applicant’s right pursuant to that judgment had been extinguished.
The applicant appealed and on 23 February 2009 the Regional Court upheld the District Court’s decision.
On 4 January 2007 and 18 March 2008 the Constitutional Court rejected two complaints about the length of the enforcement proceedings lodged by the applicant. On 15 April 2009, on the applicant’s third complaint, the Constitutional Court found that the District Court had violated the applicant’s right to a hearing without unjustified delay under Article 48 § 2 of the Constitution. It further held that the overall duration of the proceedings of more than thirteen years had been unreasonable. It awarded the applicant 3,500 euros (EUR) as just satisfaction in respect of non-pecuniary damage suffered.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the length of the enforcement proceedings.
The applicant complained that the enforcement proceedings had lasted an excessively long time. He relied on Article 6 § 1 of the Convention which provides:
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ... everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal ...”
The Government argued that the applicant could no longer claim to be a victim on the ground that the just satisfaction awarded by the Constitutional Court was adequate in the circumstances of the case.
The applicant disagreed.
The Court reiterates that an applicant’s status as a victim within the meaning of Article 34 of the Convention depends, inter alia, on whether the redress afforded at domestic level was adequate and sufficient having regard to just satisfaction as provided for under Article 41 of the Convention. While there is no requirement under the existing case-law that the domestic authorities should award the same sum by way of compensation as the Court would be likely to award, the level of just satisfaction granted at domestic level must nevertheless not be manifestly inadequate in the particular circumstances of the case (see the principles established under the Court’s case-law in Cocchiarella v. Italy [GC], no. 64886/01, §§ 65-107, ECHR 2006-... or Scordino v. Italy (no. 1) [GC], no. 36813/97, §§ 178-213, ECHR 2006 - ...).
In the present case, the proceedings lasted thirteen years and five months at two levels of jurisdiction. The Court notes that although the Constitutional Court had rejected the applicant’s length of proceedings complaints on two occasions, on 15 April 2009 it found a violation of the constitutional equivalent of Article 6 § 1 and awarded the applicant EUR 3,500 as just satisfaction. It further observes that the applicant concluded an employment contract with the defendant already in 1997 and that the courts found, even though several years later, that that contract had been in conformity with the conditions set out in the final judgment of 1995, which was the subject-matter of the enforcement proceedings in issue. In view of the above and having regard to the facts of the case and to the principles established in its case-law, the Court considers that the redress obtained by the applicant at domestic level was adequate in the particular circumstances of the case (see, for example, Becová v. Slovakia (dec.), no. 23788/06, 18 September 2007, or Bič v. Slovakia (dec.), no. 5423/03, 23 September 2008).
The Court therefore concludes that the applicant can no longer claim to be a “victim” within the meaning of Article 34 of the Convention of the alleged violation of his right to a hearing within a reasonable time. It follows that the application is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Declares the application inadmissible.
Fatoş Aracı Nicolas Bratza
Deputy Registrar President