(Application no. 22186/03)
26 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 Pešková v. the Czech Republic,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Peer Lorenzen, President,
Zdravka Kalaydjieva, judges,
and Claudia Westerdiek, 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
I. Restitution proceedings
“The court of cassation finds well-founded [the applicant’s] arguments challenging the legal conclusions of the audit report. ... There was no reason to apply ... the particular provision of section 12 (2) of the Price Regulations, which only concerned expropriation and was intended to protect persons from whom real estate was taken ...
Despite this interpretation ..., the court of cassation could not grant the applicant’s request to quash as incorrect the judgment of the appellate court. Even if the wear and tear [to the property] had not been calculated at 70%, as applied by the amendment to the audit report, but at 80%, as applied in the previous expert reports, the price ... fixed under the Price Regulations would have been higher than the purchase price agreed between the parties ... The difference in the prices is thus not based on the subjective valuation of the expert or his interpretation of the Price Regulations, but also on the smaller surface area considered by the original expert ... [as well as] the wrong classification of the construction ... In these circumstances, the finding of the appellate court that the defendants had acquired the disputed property at a price lower than that established by the Price Regulations is correct ...”.
II. Inheritance proceedings
III. Proceedings for damages
14. In a letter of 11 December 2006 the Ministry of Justice informed the applicant that it had found that her right to a determination of her civil claim within a reasonable time had been violated and that she had been awarded CZK 67,500 (EUR 2,536) in non-pecuniary damages for the length of the restitution proceedings. In a letter of 20 February 2007 the applicant informed the Court that she did not wish to pursue her claim before the domestic courts.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
16. Under section 243a of the Code of Civil Procedure, the court of cassation decides on an appeal on points of law without holding a hearing. The court holds a hearing if it considers it appropriate or if it has to review evidence.
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL NO. 1
Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 reads as follows:
“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.”
1. The parties’ observations
2. The Court’s assessment
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION ON ACCOUNT OF THE LENGTH OF THE RESTITUTION PROCEEDINGS
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ... everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal.”
51. In the light of the material in the case file and having regard to the particular circumstances of the case, the Court considers that the sum awarded to the applicant in respect of non-pecuniary damage she might have sustained in the restitution proceedings can be considered sufficient and appropriate redress for the violation suffered. The Court thus considers that the decision of the Ministry of Justice was consistent with the Court’s case-law. It 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 her right to a hearing within a reasonable time.
III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION ON ACCOUNT OF UNFAIRNESS OF THE RESTITUTION PROCEEDINGS
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ... everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing ... by [a] ... tribunal ...”
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 the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts, to be converted into Czech korunas at the rate applicable on the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 30,000 (thirty thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 240 (two hundred and forty euros) in respect of the costs and expenses;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts 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 26 November 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Claudia Westerdiek Peer Lorenzen
1 1 EUR = 26.70 CZK