by Levon GHASABYAN and Others
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 15 November 2011 as a Chamber composed of:
Luis López Guerra,
Kristina Pardalos, judges,
and Santiago Quesada, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 28 June 2005,
Having regard to the declaration submitted by the respondent Government on 10 September 2010 requesting the Court to strike the application out of the list of cases and the applicants’ reply to that declaration,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
A. The circumstances of the case
B. Relevant domestic law
A. Deprivation of the applicants’ flat
19. The applicants complained about the deprivation of their flat and invoked Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 and Article 8 of the Convention. The Court considers that their complaint falls to be examined under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 which, in so far as relevant, provides as follows:
“Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.”
20. Following unsuccessful friendly settlement negotiations the Government informed the Court, by letter dated 10 September 2010, that they proposed to make a unilateral declaration with a view to resolving the issue raised by the application. They further requested the Court to strike out the application in accordance with Article 37 of the Convention.
21. The declaration provided as follows:
“...the Government hereby wish to express – by way of the unilateral declaration – its acknowledgement of the deprivation of the applicants’ possessions not in compliance with the requirements of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 [to] the Convention.
In these circumstances, and having regard to the particular facts of the case, the Government, declare that they offer to give the applicants under the right of ownership a flat measuring 117.7 sq. m and situated at 4/6 Amiryan Street, apt 40, Yerevan. The ownership certificate of the flat has already been submitted to the Court. The Government consider this declaration to be reasonable in the light of the Court’s case law.
The offer referred to above, is to cover any pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage as well as costs and expenses, will be free of any taxes that may be applicable. It will be finalized within three months from the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the [Convention].
Consequently, the Government are of the opinion that the circumstances of the above application may lead to the conclusion set out in sub-paragraph (c) of Article 37 § 1 of the Convention, thus that it is no longer justified to continue the examination of the application in the light of the Government’s unilateral declaration.”
22. In a letter of 27 October 2010 the applicants objected against the Government’s declaration by referring to various aspects of the friendly settlement negotiations. They further alleged that the flat in question could not be considered as a flat as such, since it did not have any internal decoration.
24. The Court notes 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 where the circumstances lead to one of the conclusions specified, under (a), (b) or (c) of paragraph 1 of that Article. Article 37 § 1 (c) enables the Court in particular to strike a case out of its list if:
“for any other reason established by the Court, it is no longer justified to continue the examination of the application”.
25. It also notes that in certain circumstances, it may strike out an application under Article 37 § 1 (c) on the basis of a unilateral declaration by a respondent Government even if the applicants wish the examination of the case to be continued.
26. To this end, the Court will examine carefully the declaration in the light of the principles emerging from its case-law, in particular the Tahsin Acar judgment (see Tahsin Acar v. Turkey, [GC], no. 26307/95, §§ 75-77, ECHR 2003-VI; also WAZA Spółka z o.o. v. Poland (dec.) no. 11602/02, 26 June 2007; and Sulwińska v. Poland (dec.) no. 28953/03).
27. The Court has already established in a case against Armenia the nature and extent of the obligations which arise for the respondent State under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 as regards the deprivation of property in the centre of Yerevan for the purposes of implementation of town-planning projects under the Government Decree no. 1151-N (see Minasyan and Semerjyan, cited above, §§ 69-72). The Court notes that the circumstances of the present case and the nature of the applicants’ complaint are almost identical.
28. Having regard to the nature of the admissions contained in the Government’s declaration, as well as the nature of the proposed compensation which the Court finds reasonable in the circumstances of the case, the Court considers that it is no longer justified to continue the examination of the application (Article 37 § 1(c)).
29. Moreover, in light of the above considerations, and in particular given the existing case-law on the topic, the Court is satisfied that respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and the Protocols thereto does not require it to continue the examination of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine).
B. Other alleged violations of the Convention and Protocol No. 1
In view of the above, it is appropriate to strike the case out of the list.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Takes note of the terms of the respondent Government’s declaration under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 and of the modalities for ensuring compliance with the undertakings referred to therein;
Decides to strike the application in its part concerning the deprivation of the applicants’ flat out of its list of cases in accordance with Article 37 § 1 (c) of the Convention;
Holds that there is no need to examine separately the remaining complaints under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 and Articles 6, 8, 13 and 14 of the Convention.
Santiago Quesada Josep