CASE OF L’TRADING AND INVEST LINES KFT v. HUNGARY
(Application no. 54730/12)
9 June 2015
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of L’Trading and Invest Lines Kft v. Hungary,
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Helen Keller, President,
Robert Spano, judges,
and Abel Campos, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 19 May 2015,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 54730/12) against Hungary lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Hungarian limited liability company, L’Trading and Invest Lines Kft (“the applicant”), on 16 August 2012.
2. The applicant was represented by Mr Cs. Mester, a lawyer practising in Budapest. The Hungarian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr Z. Tallódi, Agent, Ministry of Justice.
3. On 11 October 2012 the application was communicated to the Government.
4. As respondent party, the applicant was involved in a case of property litigation as of 6 March 1996.
5. Due to pending proceedings before the construction authorities, the Pest Central District Court suspended the procedure. Subsequently, a first hearing was held in 1999.
6. The court separated the proceedings from further claims on 2 December 2004.
7. On 27 June 2006 the court rejected the counterclaim of the applicant.
8. On appeal, the Budapest Regional Court quashed this decision on 27 March 2007. It remitted this part of the action to the first-instance court.
9. In the resumed proceedings the first-instance court partly found for the applicant on 27 January 2010.
10. On appeal, the Budapest Court of Appeal upheld this judgment on 1 January 2010.
11. The applicant lodged a petition for review; and the Supreme Court reversed the judgment on 9 November 2011. The decision was served on the applicant on 1 March 2012.
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION
12. The applicant complained that the length of the proceedings had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
13. The Government contested that argument.
14. The period to be taken into consideration began on 6 March 1996 and terminated on 1 March 2012. It thus lasted over fifteen years and eight months for three levels of jurisdiction.
In view of such lengthy proceedings, this complaint must be declared admissible.
15. The Court has frequently found violations of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention in cases raising issues similar to the one in the present application (see, among many other authorities, Frydlender v. France [GC], no. 30979/96, § 43, ECHR 2000-VII).
16. Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court considers that the Government have not put forward any fact or convincing argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion in the present circumstances. Having regard to its case-law on the subject, the Court considers that the length of the proceedings was excessive and failed to meet the “reasonable time” requirement.
There has accordingly been a breach of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
17. Relying on Article 41, the applicant claimed 140,000 euros (EUR) in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage combined.
18. The Government contested these claims.
19. The Court does not discern any causal link between the violation found and the pecuniary damage alleged; it therefore rejects this claim. On the other hand, it considers that the applicant must have sustained some non-pecuniary damage. Ruling on the basis of equity, it awards it EUR 6,300 under that head.
20. The applicant made no costs claim.
21. The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,
1. Declares the application admissible;
2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months, EUR 6,300 (six thousand three hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(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;
4. Dismisses the remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 9 June 2015, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Abel Campos Helen Keller
Deputy Registrar President