AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
by Totka Gospodinova TODOROVA III
The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting on 20 January 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska,
Zdravka Kalaydjieva, judges,
and Claudia Westerdiek, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 3 June 2004,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Ms Totka Gospodinova Todorova, is a Bulgarian national who was born in 1949 and lives in Stara Zagora. She is represented before the Court by Mr M. Ekimdjiev, a lawyer practising in Plovdiv.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
On 9 September 1998 a company brought an action for unjust enrichment against the applicant in her capacity of a sole trader for allegedly using and renting a building belonging to the company without authorisation.
In the period 6 October 1998 – 25 May 1999 the Stara Zagora Regional Court appears to have conducted seven hearings and commissioned two expert reports. In a judgment of 24 June 1999 the Regional Court partly granted the action.
On 6 July 1999 the applicant appealed. There appears to have been only one hearing on 1 November 1999. In a judgment of 2 December 1999 the Plovdiv Court of Appeal quashed the lower court’s judgment and remitted the case to be examined by another panel of the Regional Court due to procedural breaches.
On 20 March 2000 the applicant made a counterclaim for the price of the improvements she had made in the property.
In the period 23 March - 27 September 2000 five hearings appear to have been conducted and several expert reports were commissioned.
In a judgment of 1 December 2000 the Regional Court partly granted the action of the company and fully granted the counterclaim of the applicant.
Upon appeal by the plaintiff, the Court of Appeal held a hearing on 16 May 2001. On 26 July 2001, finding that the appeal lacked a clear motion, the court gave the plaintiff-appellant a period of seven days to rectify it. The first hearing after the rectification was held on 22 May 2002. In a judgment of 15 July 2002 the Court of Appeal quashed the lower court’s judgment and once again remitted the case as it found that the Regional Court had delivered a judgment on an action different from that brought before it.
On 11 December 2002 the plaintiff amended its action.
In court hearings held on 11 December 2002 and 21 January 2003 the applicant objected to the amendment of the action but the court rejected her objections.
In a judgment of 28 March 2003 the Regional Court dismissed the plaintiff’s action and the applicant’s counterclaim as unsubstantiated.
Upon appeal, the Court of Appeal appears to have held two hearings, one of which was adjourned due to improper summoning.
In a judgment of 17 May 2004 the Court of Appeal quashed the lower court’s judgment and once again remitted the case as it found that the Regional Court had delivered a judgment on the initial action of the plaintiff and had not examined the amended action.
On 14 February 2005 the Supreme Court of Cassation dismissed the applicant’s appeal.
In a judgment of 1 July 2005 the Regional Court partly granted the plaintiff’s action for indemnity and the applicant’s counterclaim.
On 19 July 2005 the applicant appealed against the part of the judgment granting the plaintiff’s action, contesting the amendment of the action and the granted amount. The part of the judgment on the applicant’s counterclaim became final. The first hearing was held on 11 November 2005 and in a judgment of 9 February 2006 the Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s judgment and dismissed the applicant’s appeal.
The applicant appealed on 21 February 2006, once again contesting the amendment of the action and the granted amount. The only hearing was held on 19 October 2006.
In a final judgment of 14 December 2006 the Supreme Court of Cassation upheld the lower courts’ judgments and dismissed the applicant’s appeal.
B. Relevant domestic law
After an amendment of 16 July 1999 Article 217a of the Code of Civil Procedure (1952) provided for parties in civil proceedings to file a complaint before the higher instance courts if the proceedings were being protracted. Those courts only had the power to issue binding instructions to the lower instance courts on how to process the case.
A. Complaints under Article 6 § 1 about the length of the civil proceedings and under Article 13 of the Convention
The applicant complained under Articles 6 § 1 and 13 of the Convention about the length of the criminal proceedings and the lack of an effective remedy in that respect.
The relevant part of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention provides:
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations...., everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal...”
Article 13 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 case file, determine the admissibility of this complaint and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.
B. The remainder of the applicant’s complaints
The Court has examined the remainder of the applicant’s complaints as submitted by her. However, in the light of all the material in its possession, and in so far as the matters complained of are within its competence, the Court finds that they do not disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention or its Protocols.
It follows that this part of the application must be rejected as being manifestly ill-founded, pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to adjourn the examination of the applicant’s complaints concerning length of the civil proceedings (Article 6 § 1) and the lack of effective remedies relating thereto (Article 13);
Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.
Claudia Westerdiek Peer Lorenzen