by Loukis PAPACHRISTOFOROU and Dora PAPACHRISTOFOROU
against Cyprus (no. 2)
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting on 17 February 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Sverre Erik Jebens,
George Nicolaou, judges,
and Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 13 July 2007,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicants, Mr Loukis Papachristoforou and Mrs Dora Papachristoforou, are Cypriot nationals who were born in 1931 and 1935 respectively and live in Nicosia. They were represented before the Court by Mr S. Drakos, a lawyer practising in Nicosia. The Cypriot Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr P. Clerides, Attorney-General of the Republic of Cyprus.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
On 21 October 1997 a civil action (no. 3937/97) was brought before the District Court of Paphos against the first applicant and the official receiver of the first applicant’s company for the recovery of a debt.
On 27 August 2003 the District Court delivered its judgment ordering the official receiver of the company to pay the relevant debt and dismissing the remaining claims.
On 7 October 2003 the plaintiff lodged an appeal before the Supreme Court (appeal no. 11861).
The appeal was scheduled for directions on 22 November 2004.
In the meantime the first applicant filed a counter-appeal on 20 November 2004.
The case was set for hearing on 13 October 2006 but was then adjourned until 11 January 2007.
On 1 February 2007 the Supreme Court dismissed both the appeal and the counter-appeal.
The applicants complained under Articles 6 § 1 and 13 of the Convention about the protracted length of the proceedings and the lack of an effective remedy in this respect.
A. As regards the first applicant
On 18 December 2008 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicants’ representative:
“I, Mr Sotiris Drakos, note that the Government of Cyprus are prepared to pay the sum of EUR 7,900 (seven thousand and nine hundred euros) to the first applicant, Mr Loukis Papachristoforou, with a view to securing a friendly settlement of the above-mentioned case pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
This sum, which is to cover any pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage as well as costs and expenses, will be free of any taxes that may be applicable and payable within three months from the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. From the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points.
Having consulted my client, I would inform you that he accepts the proposal and waives any further claims against Cyprus in respect of the facts giving rise to this application. He declares that this constitutes a final resolution of the case as regards the first applicant.”
On 30 December 2008 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I, Mr Petros Clerides, Attorney-General of the Republic of Cyprus, declare that the Government of Cyprus offer to pay the first applicant, Mr Loukis Papachristoforou, EUR 7,900 (seven thousand and nine hundred euros) with a view to securing a friendly settlement of the above-mentioned case pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
This sum, which is to cover any pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage as well as costs and expenses, will be free of any taxes that may be applicable and payable within three months from the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In the event of failure to pay this sum within the said three-month period, the Government undertake to pay simple interest on it, from expiry of that period until settlement, at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points. The payment will constitute the final resolution of the case as regards the first applicant.”
The Court takes note of the friendly settlement reached between the Government and the first applicant. It is satisfied that the settlement is based on respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols and finds no public policy reasons to justify a continued examination of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention). In view of the above, it is appropriate to strike the application out of the Court’s list of cases in so far as it relates to the first applicant.
B. As regards the second applicant
The second applicant complained that the length of the proceedings before the domestic courts had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement and that she had no effective remedy in respect of the length of these proceedings. She relied on Articles 6 § 1 and 13 of the Convention, which read as follows, in so far as relevant:
Article 6 § 1
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal ...”
“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 recalls that under Article 34 of the Convention it may receive applications from individuals and others “claiming to be the victim of a violation by one of the High Contracting Parties of the rights set forth in the Convention or the protocols thereto”. In order to claim to be a victim of a violation, a person must be directly affected by the impugned measure (see, for example, Andreas Gavrielides and others v. Cyprus, (dec.), no. 38884/06, 16 October 2008, with further references).
The Court notes that the second applicant was never a party to the proceedings before the domestic courts. Accordingly, she is not a victim of the alleged violation within the meaning of Article 34 of the Convention and her complaints must be rejected as incompatible ratione personae pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases in so far as it relates to the first applicant;
Declares inadmissible the remainder of the application.
Søren Nielsen Christos Rozakis