Execution of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights
Biondić against Croatia
(Application No. 38355/05, judgment of 8 November 2007, final on 2 June 2008)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 46, paragraph 2, of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which provides that the Committee supervises the execution of final judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter “the Convention” and “the Court”);
Having regard to the judgment, transmitted by the Court to the Committee once it had become final;
Recalling that the violation of the Convention found by the Court in this case concerns the fact that the applicant had no access to a court in civil proceedings instituted by a third person in 1997 to contest an inheritance: the courts dismissed the applicant's claim to separate her personal property from the community property jointly owned by her and her deceased husband (violation of Article 6, paragraph 1 of the Convention) (see details in Appendix);
Having invited the government of the respondent state to inform the Committee of the measures taken to comply with its obligation under Article 46, paragraph 1, of the Convention to abide by the judgment;
Having examined the information provided by the government in accordance with the Committee's Rules for the application of Article 46, paragraph 2, of the Convention;
Recalling that a finding of violations by the Court requires, over and above the payment of just satisfaction awarded by the Court in its judgments, the adoption by the respondent state, where appropriate:
- of individual measures to put an end to the violations and erase their consequences so as to achieve as far as possible restitutio in integrum; and
- of general measures, preventing similar violations;
DECLARES, having examined the measures taken by the respondent state (see Appendix), that it has exercised its functions under Article 46, paragraph 2, of the Convention in this case and
DECIDES to close the examination of this case.
Appendix to Resolution CM/ResDH(2009)121
Information about the measures to comply with the judgment in the case of
Biondić against Croatia
Introductory case summary
The case concerns a violation of the applicant's right of access to a court in civil proceedings brought in November 1997 by a third party to contest an inheritance (violation of Article 6, paragraph 1). The applicant was designated by the court joint heir, together with her daughter, to her late husband's estate. A third party who was not a party to the initial inheritance proceedings then brought an action claiming a share of the estate and the applicant applied to exclude from the estate certain possessions which she had acquired in her own right during her marriage. The courts rejected her request, considering that she had failed to bring it during the inheritance proceedings.
The European Court noted that the lower courts' decisions had contravened the Supreme Court's practice, which in previous cases had found that decisions in inheritance proceedings had not been binding on heirs who had not been a party to those proceedings. If new heirs who had not been involved in the proceedings made claims in relation to heirs who had been present, the previous decisions were not binding concerning any of the claims made by those new heirs. Consequently, the substance of the applicant's claim should have been examined.
I. Payment of just satisfaction and individual measures
The applicant submitted no claim for just satisfaction. The European Court noted that the applicant had a possibility to request the reopening of the proceedings in question in accordance with section 428 (a) of the Civil Procedure Act, which would allow a fresh examination of her claim (§31 of the judgment). In this context it should be noted that the proceedings questioned in the judgment of the European Court were reopened in 2008. The Croatian authorities underline that, it is expected that in the new proceedings the competent courts will take into account the findings of the European Court in the present case (see general measures below).
II. General measures
The European Court noted that the domestic courts' interpretation of the relevant substantive and procedural laws was in contravention to the Supreme Court's practice (§27 of the judgment). The Croatian authorities consider that given the direct effect of the Convention in Croatia, publication and dissemination of the judgment of the European Court to the relevant courts should be sufficient to avoid similar violations. In this context it should be noted that the judgment of the European Court has been translated into Croat and disseminated to the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and to the courts involved. It is also available on the Internet site of the Ministry of Justice (www.pravosudje.hr) and has been published in a periodical on the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (Vol. 3 No. 2 2007).
III. Conclusions of the respondent state
The government considers that the measures adopted will prevent similar violations and that Croatia has thus complied with its obligations under Article 46, paragraph 1, of the Convention.
1 Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 3 December 2009 at the 1072nd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies