by Dragoslav LAZAREVIĆ
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting on 2 June 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Ireneu Cabral Barreto,
Nona Tsotsoria, judges,
Françoise Elens-Passos, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 30 August 2007,
Having regard to the declaration submitted by the respondent Government on 15 December 2008 requesting the Court to strike the application out of its list of cases and the applicant’s reply thereto,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Dragoslav Lazarević, is a Serbian national who was born and lives in Gornji Milanovac. He is represented before the Court by Mr M. Petrović, a lawyer practising in the same town. The respondent Government are represented by their Agent Mr S. Carić.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
On 2 June 1998 the Municipal Court (Opštinski sud) in Gornji Milanovac ordered the Municipality of Gornji Milanovac to register the applicant’s father as the presumed owner (pretpostavljeni vlasnik) of a specific plot of land, previously registered as “socially-owned property”.
On an unspecified date thereafter this judgment became final.
In 2003 the applicant’s father died.
On 10 February 2004 the applicant personally sought enforcement of the judgment of 2 June 1998, as his father’s sole successor.
On 8 November 2004 the Municipal Court issued the enforcement order.
On 15 February 2005 the Municipality received this decision, and on 12 December 2008 its land registration authority (katastar nepokretnosti) entered the necessary changes in the land registry.
The applicant complained under Article 6 of the Convention about the non-enforcement of the final judgment in question, as well as the consequent breach of his property rights.
The application had been communicated to the Government under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 thereto.
By letter dated 15 December 2008, the Government informed the Court that they proposed to make a unilateral declaration with a view to resolving the issues raised by the applicant. They further requested the Court to strike out the application in accordance with Article 37 of the Convention.
The declaration, signed by the Government’s Agent, provided as follows:
“I declare that the Government of the Republic of Serbia is ready to accept that there had been a violation of the applicant’s rights under Article 6 paragraph 1 and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 ... and offer to pay the applicant, Mr Dragoslav Lazarević, the amount of EUR 1,700 ex gratia in respect of the application registered under no. 13411/07 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 ... decision 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.”
In a letter dated 12 February 2009 the applicant expressed the view that a strike-out of his case would not be justified.
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 Article 6 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 concerning the non-enforcement of a final court decision (see, among many others, EVT Company v. Serbia, no. 3102/05, §§ 46-49, 21 June 2007). Where the Court has found a breach of these Articles 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, the amount of compensation proposed (which can be considered reasonable in comparison with the Court’s awards in similar cases), as well as the fact that the judgment in question was ultimately enforced (the enforcement having lasted more than four years and one month), the Court finds that it is no longer justified to continue the examination 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 the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine).
Accordingly, it should be struck out of the list.
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).
For these reasons, the Court unanimously,
Takes note of the terms of the respondent Government’s declaration 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 accordance with Article 37 § 1 (c) of the Convention.
Françoise Elens-Passos Françoise
Deputy Section Registrar President