Lidiya LITOVCHENKO and others
The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting on 10 May 2012 as a Committee composed of:
André Potocki, judges,
and Stephen Phillips, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 17 August 2006,
Having regard to the declarations submitted by the respondent Government, requesting the Court to strike the application out of its list of cases,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The application was lodged by Ukrainian nationals Ms Lidiya Mitrofanovna Litovchenko, Ms Lubov Grigoryevna Kozachuk and Ms Irina Grigoryevna Kuyumzhi, and by a Russian national Ms Olga Grigoryevna Astremskaya. The applicants were born in 1935, 1956, 1965 and 1959, respectively. The first applicant is the mother of the other three applicants. The second and the third applicants live in Mykolayiv. The fourth applicant lives in Novorossiysk.
On 26 June 2008 the first applicant died, the remaining applicants having informed the Court that they wished to pursue her part of the application.
The Ukrainian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Ms V. Lutkovska, of the Ministry of Justice.
The case mainly concerns a land dispute between the first applicant and her neighbour ongoing after the former’s death and succeeded by the other applicants inheriting the disputed land.
The applicants complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the length of the proceedings. They further complained, with reference to the same provision, that the proceeding in question had been unfair. Lastly, the applicants alleged an infringement of their property rights under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.
Each of the three declarations provided as follows:
“The Government of Ukraine acknowledge the excessive duration of the consideration of the applicant’s case before the national courts.
I, Valeria Lutkovska, the Government Agent before the European Court of Human Rights, declare that the Government of Ukraine offer to pay 1,600 (one thousand six hundred) euros to [each applicant].
The Government therefore invite the Court to strike the application out of the list of cases. The Government of Ukraine suggest that the present declaration might be accepted by the Court as “any other reason” justifying the striking out of the case of the Court’s list of cases, as referred to in Article 37 § 1 (c) of the Convention.
The sum is to cover any non-pecuniary damage as well as costs and expenses, will be free of any taxes that may be applicable, and converted into the national currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable on the date of settlement. It will be payable within three months from the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In the event of failure to pay this sum within the said three-month period, the Government undertake to pay simple interest on it from expiry of that period until settlement, at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points.
This payment will constitute the final resolution of the case.”
The applicants did not comment on the Government’s declarations.
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 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”.
It also recalls 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 applicant wishes the examination of the case to be continued.
The Court has established in a number of cases, including those brought against Ukraine, its practice concerning complaints about the violation of the right to a hearing within a reasonable time (see, for example, Frydlender v. France [GC], no. 30979/96, § 43, ECHR 2000-VII; Pavlyulynets v. Ukraine, no. 70767/01, §§ 39-52, 6 September 2005; and Moroz and Others v. Ukraine, no. 36545/02, §§ 52-61, 21 December 2006).
Turning to the present case, the Court notes at the outset that it perceives the unilateral declarations submitted by the Government as covering the complaints regarding the length of the domestic proceedings initally introduced by all four applicants and further pursued, after the death of the first applicant, by the remaining three applicants. Having regard to the nature of the admissions contained in the Government’s declarations, as well as the amounts of compensation proposed – which is consistent with the amounts awarded in similar cases – the Court considers that it is no longer justified to continue the examination of the application (Article 37 § 1(c)).
Moreover, in light of the above considerations, and in particular given the clear and extensive 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 in respect of the excessive length of the civil proceedings (Article 37 § 1 in fine).
Accordingly, this part of the application should be struck out of the list pursuant to Article 37 § 1(c).
It follows that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 (a) and 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Takes note of the terms of the respondent Government’s declarations in respect of the excessive length of the civil proceedings;
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases in so far as it relates to the above complaint in accordance with Article 37 § 1 (c) of the Convention;
Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.
Stephen Phillips Mark Villiger
Deputy Registrar President