CASE OF JOSIFOV v. THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
(Application no. 37812/04)
25 June 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 Josifov v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Peer Lorenzen, President,
Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska,
Zdravka Kalaydjieva, judges,
and Claudia Westerdiek, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 2 June 2009,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. Civil proceedings concerning the applicant's dismissal
2. Liquidation proceedings against the employer
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 OF THE CONVENTION
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal...”
1. The parties' submissions
2. The Court's consideration
27. The Court notes that the civil court proceedings concerning the applicant's dismissal started on 5 September 1996 and ended 1 November 2004 when the applicant was advised to apply in the liquidation proceedings. In this latter set of proceedings, the applicant claimed loss of income as a result of his dismissal. The Court considers that these two sets of proceedings are to be regarded as a single procedure since their outcome was interdependent.
28. The period which falls within the Court's jurisdiction, as argued by the Government, began on 10 April 1997, when the Convention entered into force in respect of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (see Lickov v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, no. 38202/02, § 21, 28 September 2006). However, in assessing the reasonableness of the time that elapsed after that date, account must be taken of the state of proceedings on 10 April 1997 (see Ziberi v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, no. 27866/02, § 41, 5 July 2007). In this connection, the Court notes that at that point the proceedings had lasted less than seven months for one level of jurisdiction.
29. The proceedings lasted nearly twelve years and seven months of which almost twelve years fall within the Court's temporal competence for two levels of jurisdiction in the civil court proceedings and the liquidation proceedings each. The relevant period has ended on 11 February 2009 by the first-instance court's decision in the liquidation proceedings.
30. 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 relevant authorities and what was at stake for the applicant in the dispute (see Dimitrievski v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, no. 26602/02, § 29 18 December 2008).
31. The Court considers that the case was not of a complex nature.
32. It further finds no delays attributable to the applicant. In particular, he cannot be held responsible for applying in the liquidation proceedings since he was advised to do so by the first-instance court.
33. On the other hand, the Court considers that there are considerable delays attributable to the national courts. In this connection, it observes that it took two years and five months for the first-instance court to serve its decision on the applicant (see paragraph 8 above). It further took four years and three months for that same court, now, in the liquidation proceedings, to advise the applicant to pursue his claim, again, in civil proceedings (see paragraphs 15 and 16 above). Furthermore, the domestic law and the Court's jurisprudence (see Ziberi v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, cited above § 47) required employment-related disputes to be conducted with a special diligence.
34. Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court considers that in the instant case the length of the proceedings was excessive and failed to meet the reasonable time requirement of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
35. There has accordingly been a breach of that provision.
II. 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.”
39. The Court observes that the applicant did not specify the ground on which he claimed pecuniary damage. Since there is no causal link between the violation found and the damage alleged, the Court rejects these claims. On the other hand, the applicant's claim for non-pecuniary damage as a result of emotional suffering due to “lack of subsistence funds” is sufficiently linked to the lengthy duration of the proceedings at issue. Therefore, the Court awards him EUR 3,200 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
B. Costs and expenses
C. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
1. Declares the application admissible;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts, to be converted into the national currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 3,200 (three thousand and two hundred euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 600 (six hundred euros) in respect of costs and expenses; (iii) plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount 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 25 June 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Claudia Westerdiek Peer Lorenzen