(Application no. 302/05)
20 January 2009
This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision
In the case of Norkūnas v. Lithuania,
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Ireneu Cabral Barreto,
Işıl Karakaş, judges,
and Sally Dollé, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 16 December 2008,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
2 The Lithuanian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Ms E. Baltutytė.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
“A person whose constitutional rights or freedoms are violated shall have the right to apply to court.”
Article 483. General liability grounds for causing damage
“The person who causes damage to a natural person or to his property ... must compensate it fully, except in cases prescribed by laws...
A person who causes damage is exempted from liability if he proves that the damage was not caused because of his fault.
Damage caused by lawful acts must be compensated only in cases established by law ...”
“...by virtue of the Constitution, a person has the right to claim compensation for damage caused by the unlawful actions of State institutions and agents, even if such compensation is not foreseen by law; the courts adjudicating such cases ... have the power to award appropriate compensation by directly applying the principles of the Constitution ... as well as the general principles of law, while being guided inter alia by the principle of reasonableness, etc”.
Article 182. Fraud
“2. A person who has by fraud obtained on his own behalf or that of another the property or pecuniary right of another of a significant value (...) shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of up to eight years.”
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION
“In the determination of ... any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal...”
II. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONVENTION
“No one shall be deprived of his liberty merely on the ground of inability to fulfil a contractual obligation.”
43. The Court reiterates that in the present case the applicant was convicted of fraud, which is a crime under domestic law, and imprisoned as a result. It follows that the applicant's complaint is not related to imprisonment for an inability to fulfil a contractual obligation. Accordingly, this complaint is incompatible ratione materiae within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 thereof.
III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
B. Costs and expenses
C. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the first applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following sums, to be converted into the currency of the responded State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 2,000 (two thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage, and
(ii) EUR 725 (seven hundred and twenty-five euros) in respect of costs and expenses, plus any tax that may be chargeable to this applicant;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
Done in English, and notified in writing on 20 January 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Sally Dollé Françoise