AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
by Turan ÇETİNKAYA
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting on 31 March 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Ireneu Cabral Barreto,
Işıl Karakaş, judges,
Françoise Elens-Passos, Deputy Section Registrar.
Having regard to the above application lodged on 23 January 2004,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Turan Çetinkaya, is a Turkish national who was born in 1960 and lives in Tokat. He is represented before the Court by Mr S. Sezer, a lawyer practising in Ankara.
The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
On 4 August 1993 the applicant, who worked at a private electricity company at the material time, had an accident during working hours which led to his partial paralysis caused by a brain trauma.
On 27 June 1996 the applicant lodged an action with the Ankara Labour Court against his employers, requesting 5,000,000 Turkish liras (TRL) in pecuniary damages and TRL 500,000,000 in non-pecuniary damages as compensation for the loss he had suffered as a result of the accident.
The Ankara Labour Court obtained three different expert reports on 2 April 1997, 10 October 2000 and 23 December 2002 respectively, in order to determine the employer’s liability in the matter.
In the meantime, on 27 June 2002 the Ankara Labour Court decided to postpone the hearings pending the outcome of a criminal trial concerning the applicant’s accident.
On 3 February 2003 the Ankara Labour Court dismissed the applicant’s request for compensation, holding him entirely responsible for the accident which he had suffered.
On 14 April 2003 the Court of Cassation quashed this judgment, holding that the Ankara Labour Court had erred in its assessment of the employer’s liability, and remitted the case to that court.
On 10 October 2003 the Ankara Labour Court obtained an additional expert opinion.
On 13 October 2003 the Ankara Labour Court granted the applicant TRL 500,000,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage, plus interest from the date of the accident, and dismissed his claim for pecuniary damages.
The applicant did not appeal so, on 7 January 2004, the judgment of the Ankara Labour Court became final.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention of the length of the proceedings before the Ankara Labour Court. He further argued that his right to property had been breached on account of the excessive length of the proceedings and the high inflation rates at the material time.
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.
The Court considers that this complaint should be examined from the standpoint of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.
The Court reiterates that Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 only enshrines the right to the peaceful enjoyment of existing possessions (see Marckx v. Belgium, judgment of 13 June 1979, Series A no. 31, p. 23, § 50). The Court also notes that it has consistently held that a “claim” can only constitute a “possession” within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 if it is sufficiently established to be enforceable (see Burdov v. Russia, no. 59498/00, § 40, ECHR 2002-III, and Poltorachenko v. Ukraine, no. 77317/01, § 45, 18 January 2005).
In the present case, the applicant’s claim to compensation only became a “possession” within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 when it was established by a final and enforceable court judgment (see, mutatis mutandis, Pravednaya v. Russia, no. 69529/01, §§ 37-39, 18 November 2004; Kahraman Yılmaz and Others v. Turkey, no. 51423/99, §§ 48-50, 24 April 2008), that is when the Ankara Labour Court’s decision of 13 October 2003 became final on 7 January 2004. Prior to this date, the applicant had no “possession” that could be the subject of an interference. The alleged loss that the applicant has suffered due to the length of the proceedings and the high inflation rates cannot, therefore, be considered to have deprived him of any property rights within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.
It follows that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected 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 complaint concerning the length of the civil proceedings;
Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.
Françoise Elens-Passos Françoise
Deputy Registrar President