by Dušanka BEKKER-ISAKOVIĆ
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting on 14 April 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Işıl Karakaş, judges,
and Françoise Elens-Passos, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 13 October 2006,
Having regard to the declaration submitted by the respondent Government on 4 July 2008 requesting the Court to strike the application out of the list of cases,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Ms Dušanka Bekker-Isaković, is a dual Serbian and Dutch national who was born in 1950 and lives in Emmen (Netherlands). The Serbian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr. S. Carić.
The application concerns a claim for the dissolution of a contract, which claim the applicant filed before the Municipal Court in Kragujevac on 3 November 2000. The last hearing was held before this court on 21 January 2009, where the case is still apparently pending.
The applicant complained under Article The applicants complained under Articles 6 § 1 of the Convention about the excessive length of the civil proceedings, as well as their overall fairness and impartiality.
1. The applicant complained about the excessive length of her civil suit.
By letter dated 4 July 2008, the Government informed the Court that they proposed to make a unilateral declaration with a view to resolving these issues. They also requested the Court to strike out the application in accordance with Article 37 of the Convention.
The Government’s declaration signed by their Agent reads as follows:
“I declare that the Government of the Republic of Serbia is ready to accept that there had been a violation of the applicants’ rights under Article 6 paragraph 1 of the Convention and offer to pay to the applicant, Miss Dušanka Bekker-Isaković, the amount of EUR 2,200 ex gratia in respect of the application registered under no. 42284/06 before the European Court of Human Rights.
This sum, which covers any pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage as well as costs, shall be paid in dinar counter-value, free of any taxes that may be applicable and to an account ... [specified] ... by the applicant. The sum shall be payable within three months from the date of delivery of the judgment by the Court. This payment will constitute the final resolution of the case.
The Government regret the occurrence of the actions which have led to the bringing of the present application.”
The applicant did not comment.
The Court recalls that Article 37 of the Convention provides that it may, at any stage of the proceedings, decide to strike an application out of its list of cases. In particular, Article 37 § 1 (c) enables the Court to strike a case out of its list if it finds that “it is no longer justified to continue the examination of the application”, and it has done so in the past on the basis of certain unilateral declarations by respondent Governments even if the applicants had maintained their cases.
To this end, the Court will carefully examine the declaration made by the Government in the present case in the light of the principles emerging from its case-law (see Tahsin Acar v. Turkey, [GC], no. 26307/95, §§ 75-77, ECHR 2003-VI).
The Court notes that it has specified in a number of cases the nature and extent of the obligations which arise for a State Party under Articles 6 § 1 of the Convention concerning the right to a hearing within a reasonable time (see, among many others, Cocchiarella v. Italy [GC], no. 64886/01, ECHR 2006; Kudła v. Poland [GC], no. 30210/96, ECHR 2000 XI; Ilić v. Serbia, no. 30132/04, 9 October 2007). Where the Court has found a breach of this provision it has awarded just satisfaction, the amount of which has depended on the particular features of the case.
Having regard to the nature of the concessions contained in the Government’s unilateral declaration in the present case, as well as the amount of compensation proposed (which can be considered reasonable in comparison with the Court’s awards in similar cases, when account is taken of the fact that only five years and one month of the impugned proceedings fall within the Court’s competence ratione temporis, Serbia having ratified the Convention on 3 March 2004), the Court finds that it is no longer justified to continue the examination of this part of the application (Article 37 § 1 (c) of the Convention; see, for the relevant principles, Tahsin Acar, cited above; Haran v. Turkey, no. 25754/94, judgment of 26 March 2002).
The Court is also satisfied that respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and the Protocols thereto does not require it to continue the examination of this part of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine).
Accordingly, it should be struck out of the case.
Since the impugned proceedings appear to be still pending, it is to be noted that the Court’s strike-out decision is without prejudice to the merits of the applicant’s domestic claim or, indeed, her ability to obtain redress for any additional procedural delay which may occur after the date of the present decision. In the particular circumstances of the case, the Court considers that the State should still ensure that all necessary steps are taken to allow the trial to be concluded as speedily as possible, taking into account the requirements of the proper administration of justice.
Finally, the Court recalls that, in accordance with Article 46 § 2 of the Convention, the Committee of Ministers is competent to supervise the execution of its final judgments only. However, should the respondent State fail to comply with the terms of its unilateral declaration in the present case, the application could be restored to the Court’s list, pursuant to Article 37 § 2 of the Convention (see Aleksentseva and 28 Others v. Russia (dec.), no. 75025/01, ECHR, 23 March 2006).
Given that the proceedings at issue are apparently still pending, the Court finds that these complaints are premature and, as such, inadmissible for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies, pursuant to Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Takes note of the terms of the respondent Government’s declaration in respect of the length-of-proceedings complaint communicated under Article 6 § 1 and of the modalities for ensuring compliance with the undertakings referred to therein;
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases in so far as it relates to this complaint in accordance with Article 37 § 1 (c) of the Convention;
Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.
Françoise Elens-Passos Ireneu Cabral Barreto
Deputy Registrar President