AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
by Galina BRAILOVA
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting on 28 May 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Christos Rozakis, President,
Sverre Erik Jebens, judges,
and Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application on 11 October 2004,
Having regard to the decision to apply Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and examine the admissibility and merits of the case together.
Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Ms Galina Yevgenyevna Brailova, is a Russian national who was born in 1936 and lives in the town of Temryuk, Krasnodar Region.
The respondent Government were represented by Mr P. Laptev, the then Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
A. Case no. 1
On 29 April 1996 the applicant’s neighbour (the plaintiff) lodged a claim with a court, seeking partition of the plot of land on which their respective houses were situated. On 3 June 1996 the Temryukskiy District Court of the Krasnodar Region granted the plaintiff’s claim. On 6 August 1996 the Krasnodar Regional Court upheld the judgment.
On 17 December 1997 the Presidium of the Regional Court on the applicant’s request quashed the above judgments by way of supervisory review and remitted the case for fresh consideration.
On 20 April 1998 the District Court commissioned an expert report and requested the plaintiff to pay for it.
On 6 January 2000 the court discontinued the proceedings because of the plaintiff’s failure to pay for the expert report. This decision was not appealed against and became final.
In the meantime, the applicant complained about the length of the proceedings. By letters of 23 December 1999 and 20 March 2000, the President of the Regional Court instructed the President of the District Court to make inquiries and to speed up the proceedings. In reply, by a letter of 30 March 2000, the President of the District Court informed that the case had been discontinued on 6 January 2000 and that the applicant had been informed accordingly. A copy of the letter of 30 March 2000 was sent to the applicant.
B. Case no. 2
According to the Government, on 4 July 2002 the plaintiff brought new proceedings against the applicant in the District Court. The plaintiff sought a delimitation of their respective plots of land. On the same date, the District Court declined jurisdiction in favour of a justice of the peace.
On 28 August 2002 the applicant lodged a counterclaim requesting the court to order the plaintiff not to impede her use of the land. The District Court declined jurisdiction in respect of the counterclaim in favour of a justice of the peace.
Both cases were joined and a hearing was scheduled for 9 September 2002. On that date the justice of the peace declined, however, jurisdiction in favour of the District Court.
On 23 September 2002 the District Court scheduled a hearing for 8 October 2002. The hearing was adjourned until 14 October 2002 because the applicant failed to attend. Between October 2002 and 6 February 2003 the proceedings were suspended awaiting an expert report. On 10 February 2003 the judge requested a State agency to provide information on the land plots in question. On 17 March 2003 the judge granted the applicant’s request and ordered another expert report.
On 25 April 2003 the expert requested further details about the case and asked for payment. On 7 May 2003 the judge forwarded this request to the parties. On 6 June 2003 the judge resumed the proceedings. On 16 June 2003 the judge adjourned the proceedings in view of the applicant’s wish to retain counsel. On 21 June 2003 the judge granted the applicant’s additional request and ordered another expert report. However, on 21 July 2003 the applicant withdrew her request.
By a judgment of 21 August 2003 the District Court granted the plaintiff’s claims. On 18 September 2003 the Regional Court set aside this judgment and required a new hearing.
On 4 November 2003 the District Court, having obtained the parties’ consent, ordered yet another expert report. On 10 December 2003 the expert refused to issue the report, referring to the applicant’s alleged repeated challenges to different experts and attempts to influence them.
On the District Court’s insistence, on 20 April 2004 the expert issued the report. On 26 May 2004 the District Court granted the plaintiff’s claims. On 20 July 2004 the Regional Court upheld the judgment.
C. Enforcement proceedings
The applicant also brought separate proceedings against the bailiff service in relation to the judgment of 26 May 2004. She claimed that it contained wrong findings and that the bailiff had wrongly set the delimitation border between the respective plots of land. By the final judgment of 7 April 2005 the Regional Court rejected her claims as unfounded.
The applicant complained under Articles 6 and 14 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 about the outcome of the court proceedings, which ended with the final judgment of 26 May 2004, as upheld on 20 July 2004. She also alleged that the length of those proceedings had been excessive. Lastly, she complained about the enforcement of the judgment of 26 May 2004 against her.
The Court considers that the applicant’s complaints fall to be examined under Article 6 of the Convention, which reads in the relevant part as follows:
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ... everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal ...”
A. Length of proceedings
The Government submitted that the applicant’s claim concerned two separate sets of court proceedings. Neither case was in breach of the “reasonable time” requirement under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
The applicant maintained her complaint. She made no comment concerning the Government’s first assertion.
Having examined the materials submitted by the parties, the Court considers that the applicant’s claim indeed concerned two separate sets of proceedings.
As to the first proceedings, the Court notes that they ended on 6 January 2000 while the applicant lodged her complaint before the Court only on 11 October 2004, that is more than six months after the termination of the proceedings. There is no indication that she was not aware of the discontinuation decision. She made no submissions on this aspect of the case.
It follows that this complaint has been introduced out of time and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.
As to the second set of proceedings, the Court observes that they started on 4 July 2002 and ended on 20 July 2004. Thus, they lasted slightly over two years.
The Court reiterates that the reasonableness of the length of proceedings must be assessed in the light of the circumstances of the case and with reference to the following criteria: the complexity of the case, the conduct of the applicant and the conduct of the relevant authorities (see, among many other authorities, Pélissier and Sassi v. France [GC], no. 25444/94, § 67, ECHR 1999-II).
The Court considers that the second case was not particularly complex, despite the fact that it required an expert report.
The Court also observes that no significant delays were attributable to the applicant. Nor did the authorities idle in the present case; the case was examined twice at two levels of jurisdiction and the proceedings progressed at a reasonable pace.
Having examined the parties’ submissions and having regard to the overall length of the proceedings, the Court considers that it did not exceed a “reasonable time” under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
It follows that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
B. Other complaints
Lastly, the applicant complained in general terms about the outcome of the court proceedings and enforcement of the judgment against her. Having regard to all the material in its possession, and in so far as these complaints fall within the Court’s competence ratione materiae, it finds that the evidence discloses no 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
Declares the application inadmissible.
Nielsen Christos Rozakis