Cases, Materials and News on European Civil Procedure

European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section) – CHENGELYAN AND OTHERS v. BULGARIA – 23 November 2017 – Violation of Article 6 par. 1 of the Convention – Right to a fair hearing – Just satisfaction

On November 23, 2017, the European Court of Human Rights issued a judgement in case Chengelyan and Others v. Bulgaria (application no. 47405/07).

The case dealt with the question of just satisfaction following a judgment by the European Court of Human Rights concerning the applicants’ complaint about a final judgment in their favour not having been respected by the domestic courts. Ancestors of the applicants had owned a plot of land in the old part of Plovdiv with a two-storey
house built on it, which had been expropriated in 1966 and the applicants’ ancestors had received compensation. Following the adoption of a Restitution Act in 1992, some of the applicants applied for the revocation of the expropriation. Initially the mayor refused their application, the decision being upheld by the regional court. However, in a final judgment of October 1998 the Supreme Administrative Court reversed the decision, finding that the expropriation and subsequent use of the property had been in breach of the law. The applicants subsequently paid back to the municipality the compensation received by their ancestors at the time; they also obtained a notarial deed which
named the applicants as the property’s owners.
The applicants could not take possession of the property, which was being used by the municipality. After unsuccessfully attempting to negotiate an agreement they brought proceedings against the municipality in order to have the restitution enforced. Their action was dismissed by a final judgment of the Supreme Court of Cassation in June 2007 which found that the 1998 judgment was open to indirect judicial review, in particular because the municipality had not participated in the earlier proceedings and therefore was not bound by that judgment.
In its judgment on the merits of 21 April 2016 the Court found a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing) of the European Convention on Human Rights on account of the domestic courts’ 1 Under Articles 43 and 44 of the Convention, Chamber judgments are not final. During the three-month period following a Chamber judgment’s delivery, any party may request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber of the Court. If such a request is made, a panel of five judges considers whether the case deserves further examination. In that event, the Grand Chamber will hear the case and deliver a final judgment. If the referral request is refused, the Chamber judgment will become final on that day. Under Article 28 of the Convention, judgments delivered by a Committee are final. Once a judgment becomes final, it is transmitted to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for supervision of its execution.
Today’s judgment concerned the question of the application of Article 41 (just  satisfaction) of the Convention, in so far as pecuniary damage was concerned.
Just satisfaction: EUR 462,000, in respect of pecuniary damage, to be distributed among the applicants in accordance with their shares of the inheritance; and EUR 675, in respect of costs and expenses, to be paid to Mr Kamer Barkev Shirin.

Full text of the decision

Full text of the decision on the merit of April 21, 2016

Updated: November 29, 2017 — 3:11 pm

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