AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
Application no. 11440/02
by István JÁVOR, Istvánné JÁVOR, Csongor JÁVOR and Diana JÁVOR
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting on 25 August 2005 as a Chamber composed of:
Mr J.-P. Costa, President,
Mr A.B. Baka,
Mr R. Türmen,
Mr K. Jungwiert,
Mr V. Butkevych,
Mr M. Ugrekhelidze,
Mrs A. Mularoni, judges,
and Mrs S. Dollé, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 23 October 2001,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicants, Mr István Jávor (the “first applicant”), Mrs Istvánné Jávor (the “second applicant”), Mr Csongor Jávor and Ms Diana Jávor are Hungarian nationals who were born in 1954, 1955, 1986 and 1990, respectively, and live in Budapest.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicants, may be summarised as follows.
The applicants are husband and wife and their son and daughter. In December 1987 the parents travelled to Cuba on a trip organised by a travel agency. On 13 December 1987 the tourist group had dinner at a restaurant where they were served poisonous sea food. As a consequence, the muscles and the nervous systems of the first and the second applicant were seriously damaged, causing 67% disability.
1. First proceedings
In 1988 the first applicant brought an action against the travel agency in the Budapest II/III District Court claiming damages. The case was then transferred to the competent Pest Central District Court.
In an interim judgment (közbenső ítélet) on 23 March 1990, the District Court established the travel agency’s responsibility. In its partial judgment (részítélet) on 15 June 1993, it ordered the defendant to pay 600,000 Hungarian forints (HUF) plus interest to the first applicant, but dismissed his claims for non-pecuniary damage.
In the continued proceedings, the District Court held hearings on 16 February 1994, 9 May and 16 July 1997. On 24 April 1998 the court delivered a decision and ordered the defendant to pay damages and an allowance to the first applicant.
On appeal, on 10 December 1998 the Budapest Regional Court confirmed the first-instance decision. The applicant filed a petition for review on 27 January 1999.
On 30 March 2001 the Supreme Court dismissed this petition (service: 18 June 2001).
2. Second proceedings
On 22 December 1992 the second applicant instituted proceedings seeking damages and an allowance from the travel agency. On 8 January1997 the Pest Central District Court partly accepted her claims and ordered the defendant to pay her a monthly allowance.
On 4 December 1997 the Budapest Regional Court finally dismissed the parties’ appeals.
3. Third proceedings
On 14 January 1998 all four applicants (the parents representing their children) brought an action in the Pest Central District Court against the travel agency claiming further damages. Subsequently, the case was transferred to the Budapest II/III District Court. On 15 November 1998 the applicants requested in vain that their case be retransferred to the Pest Central District Court in order to facilitate the proceedings.
The Budapest II/III District Court held hearings on 27 May 1999 and 19 May 2000. On 27 June 2000 it decided to transfer the case to the Buda Central District Court. However, the file was transferred to the Pest Central District Court by mistake. It therefore only reached the Buda Central District Court on 27 September 2000.
On 28 March 2001 the Buda Central District Court declared its lack of competence and transferred the case to the Budapest Regional Court.
On 29 June 2001 the Regional Court declared its lack of competence and transferred the file to the Supreme Court for the appropriate delegation.
The proceedings are still pending.
4. Fourth proceedings
In the meantime, the first applicant instituted a private prosecution against the legal representative of the travel agency, alleging that the latter had made defamatory statements at the hearings in the first proceedings. On 19 June 2000 the Pest Central District Court, as confirmed by the Budapest Regional Court on 13 April 2001, dismissed the charges and acquitted the defendant.
The first applicant complains under Article 6 § 1 that the first proceedings lasted an unreasonably long time. Moreover, all the applicants make the same complaint in respect of the third set of proceedings.
Relying on Articles 6, 8, 13 and 14 of the Convention, the applicants complain that the domestic courts reached wrong conclusions concerning their respective cases and that the procedures were not fair.
1. The applicants complain about the length of proceedings: the first applicant in relation to the first action and all the applicants in relation to the third.
Article 6 § 1 of the Convention provides in its relevant part 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 considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case file, determine the admissibility of the above complaint and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 3 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.
2. The second applicant complains that the domestic courts’ decisions in the second court case were wrong.
The Court observes that the final decision in this case was given by the Regional Court on 4 December 1997, whereas the application was introduced only on 23 October 2001. It follows that this part of the application was introduced outside the six-month time-limit laid down in Article 35 § 1 and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.
3. The first applicant complains that the private prosecution in the fourth case did not lead to the defendant’s conviction.
The Court observes that neither the Convention nor its Protocols guarantee a right to have a third person convicted. It follows that this part of the application is incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.
4. The first applicant complains that, in the first proceedings, the amounts and allowance awarded did not cover all the damage he suffered, which amounts to a breach of his rights under Articles 6, 8, 13 and 14 of the Convention.
In so far as the applicant’s complaint may be understood to concern the assessment of the evidence and the result of the proceedings before the domestic courts, the Court reiterates that, according to Article 19 of the Convention, its duty is to ensure the observance of the engagements undertaken by the Contracting Parties to the Convention. In particular, it is not its function to deal with errors of fact or law allegedly committed by a national court unless and in so far as they may have infringed rights and freedoms protected by the Convention. Moreover, while Article 6 of the Convention guarantees the right to a fair hearing, it does not lay down any rules on the admissibility of evidence or the way it should be assessed, which are therefore primarily matters for regulation by national law and the national courts (see, e.g., the Schenk v. Switzerland judgment of 12 July1988, Series A no. 140, p. 29, §§ 45-46). In the present case, there is no indication that the domestic courts lacked impartiality or that the proceedings were otherwise unfair.
Moreover, the applicant’s submissions do not disclose any appearance of a violation of his rights under Articles 8, 13 or 14 of the Convention.
It follows that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.
5. Lastly, the applicants complain that the procedure in the third case was not fair.
The Court observes that these proceedings are still pending and that therefore this complaint is premature.
It follows that, in respect of this part of the application, domestic remedies have not been exhausted as required by Article 35 § 1. This complaint must consequently be rejected pursuant to Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to adjourn the examination of the applicants’ complaints concerning the length of the first and the third proceedings;
Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.
S. Dollé J.-P. Costa
JÁVOR AND OTHERS v. HUNGARY DECISION
JÁVOR AND OTHERS v. HUNGARY DECISION