AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
by Lilyana Veselinova TOSHEVA
The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting on 2 June 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska,
Zdravka Kalaydjieva, judges,
and Claudia Westerdiek, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 9 September 2003,
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, Mrs Lilyana Veselinova Tosheva, is a Bulgarian national who was born in 1943 and lives in Lesidren. She is represented before the Court by Mr Y. Grozev, a lawyer practising in Sofia. The Bulgarian Government (“the Government”) are represented by their Agents, Mrs M. Dimova and Mrs N. Nikolova, of the Ministry of Justice.
The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
On 20 August 1990 Mrs R.A. brought an action against the applicant and her husband seeking a declaration that a contract whereby they had acquired the title of an apartment was null and void.
On 23 December 1991 the Sofia District Court rescinded the contract. In a judgment of 3 January 1994 the Sofia City Court quashed the lower court’s judgment and remitted the case for fresh examination.
Between May 1994 and April 2000 the Sofia District Court held at least twenty-one hearings, eight of which were adjourned because the applicant and her husband had not been duly summoned. On 14 April 2000 the domestic court rescinded the impugned contract.
The applicant and her husband appealed. In a judgment of 12 November 2001 the Sofia City Court quashed the lower court’s judgment in respect of half of the real estate and upheld it in respect of the other half.
The applicant’s husband lodged a cassation appeal. The applicant did not file such an appeal and did not participate in the cassation proceedings.
In a judgment of 10 March 2003 the Supreme Court of Cassation annulled the lower court’s judgment and terminated the proceedings, holding that the plaintiff had had no standing to bring the action.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the length of the civil proceedings had been excessive.
The applicant complained of the length of the civil proceedings under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention which, in so far as relevant, reads as follows:
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ... everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal ...”
The Court notes that the Sofia City Court gave a judgment on 12 November 2001 and that the applicant did not participate in the ensuing cassation proceedings which were initiated pursuant to a cassation appeal by her husband. A question therefore arises as to whether the six-month time limit under Article 35 § 1 of the Convention started running from 12 November 2001, or from 10 March 2003 when the Supreme Court of Cassation gave a final judgment in the case, given that in practical terms the applicant benefitted from the Supreme Court of Cassation’s finding that the plaintiff, who had brought the proceedings against her and her husband, had no standing to bring the action.
The applicant ceased to be a party to the domestic proceedings on expiry of the time-limit for appealing against the Sofia City Court’s judgment of 12 November 2001 to the Supreme Court of Cassation. For Convention purposes, the proceedings therefore ended as far as she was concerned on that date, having lasted a little over 11 years. The present application, introduced on 9 September 2003, was brought not by the applicant’s husband, who pursued the appeal before the Supreme Court of Cassation, but by the applicant.
It follows that the complaint, lodged more than six months after the applicant’s involvement in the proceedings ended, has been introduced out of time and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Declares the application inadmissible.
Claudia Westerdiek Peer Lorenzen