(Application no. 35367/08)
24 November 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 Ipteh SA and Others v. Moldova,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Nicolas Bratza, President,
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Mihai Poalelungi, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 3 November 2009,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
“Article 50. Nullity of contracts that are not in conformity with the law
A contract which is contrary to the law shall be null and void ...
When a contract is declared null and void, each party must return to the other party everything received from it on the basis of the contract ...
The general limitation period for protection through a court action of the rights of a [natural] person is three years; it is one year for lawsuits between State organisations, collective farms and any other social organisations.
The competent court ... shall apply the limitation period whether or not the parties request such application.
Expiry of the limitation period prior to initiation of court proceedings constitutes a ground for rejecting the claim.
If the competent court ... finds that the action has not commenced within the limitation period for well-founded reasons, the right in question shall be protected.
The limitation period does not apply:
(2) to claims by State organisations regarding restitution of State property found in the unlawful possession of ... other organisations ... and of citizens;”.
“Article 6. The action in time of the civil law
(1) The civil law does not have a retroactive character. It cannot modify or suppress the conditions in which a prior legal situation was constituted or the conditions in which such a legal situation was extinguished. The new law cannot alter or abolish the already created effects of a legal situation which has extinguished or is in the process of execution.
Article 217. The absolute nullity of a legal act
(1) The absolute nullity of a legal act can be invoked by any person having an interest. The court can invoke it on its own motion...
(3) An action to declare the absolute nullity is not limited in time.”
“1. In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ... everyone is entitled to a fair hearing ... by a tribunal ....”
“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.”
I. ADMISSIBILITY OF THE COMPLAINTS
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION
III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 1 of protocol no. 1 to 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.”
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
(a) reserves the said question;
(b) invites the Moldovan Government and the applicants to submit, within the forthcoming three months, their written observations on the matter and, in particular, to notify the Court of any agreement they may reach;
(c) reserves the further procedure and delegates to the President of the Chamber the power to fix the same if need be.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 24 November 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Fatoş Aracı Nicolas Bratza
Deputy Registrar President