In the case of Ruotolo v. Italy*,

        The European Court of Human Rights, sitting, in accordance
with Article 43 (art. 43) of the Convention for the Protection of
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ("the Convention")** and the
relevant provisions of the Rules of Court, as a Chamber composed of
the following judges:

        Mr  R. Ryssdal, President,
        Mr  F. Matscher,
        Mr  B. Walsh,
        Mr  C. Russo,
        Mr  A. Spielmann,
        Mr  N. Valticos,
        Mr  A.N. Loizou,
        Mr  J.M. Morenilla,
        Mr  F. Bigi,

and also of Mr M.-A. Eissen, Registrar, and Mr H. Petzold, Deputy

        Having deliberated in private on 30 October 1991 and
24 January 1992,

        Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on the
last-mentioned date:

Notes by the Registrar

* The case is numbered 18/1991/270/341.  The first number is the
case's position on the list of cases referred to the Court in the
relevant year (second number).  The last two numbers indicate the
case's position on the list of cases referred to the Court since its
creation and on the list of the corresponding originating
applications to the Commission.

** As amended by Article 11 of Protocol No. 8 (P8-11), which came
into force on 1 January 1990.


1.      The case was referred to the Court on 8 March 1991 by the
European Commission of Human Rights ("the Commission"), within the
three-month period laid down by Article 32 para. 1 and Article 47
(art. 32-1, art. 47) of the Convention.  It originated in an application
(no. 12460/86) against the Italian Republic lodged with the
Commission under Article 25 (art. 25) by an Italian national,
Mr Luigi Ruotolo, on 15 September 1986.

        The Commission's request referred to Articles 44 and 48
(art. 44, art. 48) and to the declaration whereby Italy recognised
the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court (Article 46) (art. 46).
The object of the request was to obtain a decision as to whether the
facts of the case disclosed a breach by the respondent State of its
obligations under Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1).

2.      In response to the enquiry made in accordance with
Rule 33 para. 3 (d) of the Rules of Court, the applicant stated that he
did not wish to take part in the proceedings.

3.      On 23 April 1991 the President of the Court decided that,
pursuant to Rule 21 para. 6 and in the interests of the proper
administration of justice, this case and the cases of Diana, Ridi,
Casciaroli, Manieri, Mastrantonio, Idrocalce S.r.l., Owners'
Services Ltd, Cardarelli, Golino, Taiuti, Maciariello,
Manifattura FL, Steffano, Vorrasi, Cappello, G. v. Italy, Caffè
Roversi S.p.a., Andreucci, Gana, Barbagallo, Cifola, Pandolfelli and
Palumbo, Arena, Pierazzini, Tusa, Cooperativa Parco Cuma,
Serrentino, Cormio, Lorenzi, Bernardini and Gritti and Tumminelli*
should be heard by the same Chamber.

* Cases nos. 3/1991/255/326 to 13/1991/265/336; 15/1991/267/338;
16/1991/268/339; 20/1991/272/343; 22/1991/274/345; 24/1991/276/347;
25/1991/277/348; 33/1991/285/356; 36/1991/288/359; 38/1991/290/361;
40/1991/292/363 to 44/1991/296/367; 50/1991/302/373;
51/1991/303/374; 58/1991/310/381; 59/1991/311/382; 61/1991/313/384

4.      The Chamber to be constituted for this purpose included
ex officio Mr C. Russo, the elected judge of Italian nationality
(Article 43 of the Convention) (art. 43), and Mr R. Ryssdal, the
President of the Court (Rule 21 para. 3 (b)).  On the same day, in the
presence of the Registrar, the President drew by lot the names of
the other seven members, namely Mr F. Matscher, Mr J. Pinheiro
Farinha, Sir Vincent Evans, Mr A. Spielmann, Mr I. Foighel,
Mr J.M. Morenilla and Mr F. Bigi (Article 43 in fine of the Convention
and Rule 21 para. 4) (art. 43).

        Subsequently, Mr B. Walsh, Mr A.N. Loizou and
Mr N. Valticos, substitute judges, replaced respectively Mr Pinheiro
Farinha and Sir Vincent Evans, who had both resigned and whose
successors had taken up their duties before the deliberations held
on 30 October, and Mr Foighel, who was unable to take part in the
further consideration of the case (Rules 2 para. 3, 22 para. 1
and 24 para. 1).

5.      Mr Ryssdal assumed the office of President of the Chamber
(Rule 21 para. 5) and, through the Deputy Registrar, consulted the Agent
of the Italian Government ("the Government") and the Delegate of the
Commission on the organisation of the proceedings (Rules 37 para. 1
and 38).  In accordance with the order made in consequence, the
Registrar received the Government's memorial on 16 July 1991.  By a
letter received on 22 August, the Secretary to the Commission
informed the Registrar that the Delegate did not consider it
necessary to reply thereto.

6.      On 28 June the Chamber had decided to dispense with a
hearing, having found that the conditions for such derogation from
the usual procedure were satisfied (Rules 26 and 38).

7.      On 28 August the Commission produced the file on the
proceedings before it, as requested by the Registrar on the
President's instructions.

8.      On 5 November the Commission lodged its observations on the
claims for just satisfaction which the applicant had communicated to
the Registrar on 3 April and 11 June (Article 50 of the Convention;
Rules 50 and 1(k), taken together) (art. 50) and on which the
Government had already commented in their memorial.


9.      Mr Luigi Ruotolo is an Italian national and resides at
Montesilvano (Pescara).  The facts established by the Commission
pursuant to Article 31 para. 1 (art. 31-1) of the Convention are as
follows (paragraphs 16-25 of its report):

        "16.    In April 1979 the applicant was dismissed by the X

        17.     On 18 October 1979 he applied to the Rome
        magistrate's court (pretore) for reinstatement and damages.

        18.     The investigation of the case proceeded at the
        following hearings: 8 January 1980 (adjourned at the request
        of the parties), 22 January 1980, 29 April 1980 (adjourned
        owing to the absence of the witnesses summoned to appear),
        13 May 1980, 9 July 1980 (adjourned for the same reasons),
        14 October 1980, 24 November 1980 (adjourned at the
        defendant's request), 9 December 1980 (adjourned owing to
        the absence of the witnesses summoned to appear),
        23 February 1981 and 28 April 1981.

        19.     At the close of the last-mentioned hearing, the
        magistrate's court gave a decision dismissing the
        applicant's claim.  The text was lodged with the registry on
        29 April 1981.

        20.     On 19 November 1981 the applicant appealed against
        the above decision.  The hearing before the Rome District
        Court on 2 July 1982 ended in the dismissal of the
        applicant's appeal.  The text of the decision (thirteen
        typed pages) was lodged with the registry on
 24 February 1983.

        21.     On 23 February 1984 the applicant appealed to the
        Court of Cassation, which on 24 October 1985, after hearing
        the case, allowed the application, set aside the lower
        court's decision and referred the case to the Frosinone
        District Court.  The decision by the Court of Cassation
        (twelve typed pages) was lodged with the registry on
        27 March 1986.

        22.     On 17 January 1987 the applicant resumed his action
        before the Frosinone District Court.  The investigation,
        commenced at the hearing on 1 April 1987, continued at the
        hearings of 22 October 1987 and 21 January 1988 (adjourned
        at the parties' request), 12 October 1988 (adjourned because
        the investigating judge was not present), 17 November 1988
        (adjourned at the parties' request) and 19 January 1989.

        23.     At the close of the final hearing the court
        delivered judgment, reversing the decision by the Rome
        magistrate's court and allowing the applicant's petition for
        reinstatement.  It also awarded him the sum of 10,443,900
        lire, adjusted and with interest.

        24.     The text of the decision (fourteen typed pages) was
        lodged with the registry on 18 July 1989.

        25.     On 21 December 1989 the X company appealed against
        this decision to the Court of Cassation.  On 30 January 1990
        the applicant filed a reply to the appeal and also an appeal
        objecting to the amount of the damages awarded to him."

10.     According to the information since supplied by the
Government, the Court of Cassation gave judgment on 31 May 1991, but
on 24 January 1992 the text of its judgment had still not been filed
with the registry.


11.     Mr Ruotolo lodged his application with the Commission on
15 September 1986.  He complained of the length of the civil
proceedings brought by him and relied on Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1)
of the Convention.

12.     On 11 May 1990 the Commission declared the application
(no. 12460/86) admissible.  In its report of 15 January 1991
(Article 31) (art. 31), it expressed the unanimous opinion that
there had been a violation of Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1).  The full
text of the Commission's opinion is reproduced as an annex to this

* Note by the Registrar: for practical reasons this annex will
appear only with the printed version of the judgment (volume 230-D
of Series A of the Publications of the Court), but a copy of the
Commission's report is obtainable from the registry.



13.     The applicant claimed that his civil action had not been
tried within a "reasonable time" as required under Article 6 para. 1
(art. 6-1) of the Convention, according to which:

        "In the determination of his civil rights and obligations
        ..., everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a
        reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal ..."

        The Government disputed this view, whereas the Commission
accepted it.

14.     The period to be taken into consideration began on
18 October 1979 when the proceedings were instituted in the Rome
magistrate's court.  It ended, at the earliest, on 31 May 1991, the
date of the second judgment of the Court of Cassation.

15.     The reasonableness of the length of proceedings is to be
assessed with reference to the criteria laid down in the Court's
case-law and in the light of the circumstances of the case, which in
this instance call for an overall assessment.

16.     The Government invoked the complexity of the facts and the
excessive workload of the relevant courts.  In addition, the
applicant had not requested that his case be dealt with more

17.     The Court stresses that special diligence is necessary in
employment disputes (see the Vocaturo v. Italy judgment of
24 May 1991, Series A no. 206-C, p. 32, para. 17).  Italy moreover
acknowledged this by amending, in 1973, the special procedure laid
down in this field and by introducing, in 1990, emergency measures
intended to speed up the conduct of such proceedings (see, as the
most recent authority, the Lestini v. Italy judgment of
26 February 1992, Series A no. 228-E, p. 54, para. 18).

        The case was one of some complexity and the parties caused
five adjournments of hearings.  It should also be noted that the
applicant did not resume his action until more than nine months
after the first judgment of the Court of Cassation (27 March 1986
- 17 January 1987).  In addition and above all, the examination of
the case gave rise to two consecutive sets of proceedings, the first
of which lasted from 18 October 1979 to 27 March 1986, and the
second, after the Court of Cassation had remitted the case to a
different court, until at least 31 May 1991.

        The Government pleaded the backlog of cases in the relevant
courts, but Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1) imposes on the Contracting
States the duty to organise their legal systems in such a way that
their courts can meet each of its requirements (see, inter alia, the
Vocaturo v. Italy judgment, cited above, Series A no. 206-C, p. 32,
para. 17).

        Viewed separately, several of the delays observed may appear
normal; however, having regard to the sum of such periods and
several delays for which the competent courts were responsible - in
particular as regards the filing of the decision of 2 July 1982
(more than seven and a half months) and of the judgment of
24 October 1985 (more than five months) -, the Court considers an
overall lapse of time of more than twelve years excessive.

        There has therefore been a violation of Article 6 para. 1
(art. 6-1).


18.     According to Article 50 (art. 50):

        "If the Court finds that a decision or a measure taken by a
        legal authority or any other authority of a High Contracting
        Party is completely or partially in conflict with the
        obligations arising from the ... Convention, and if the
        internal law of the said Party allows only partial
        reparation to be made for the consequences of this decision
        or measure, the decision of the Court shall, if necessary,
        afford just satisfaction to the injured party."

    A.  Damage

19.     Mr Ruotolo claimed in the first place 335,000,000 Italian
lire or, in the alternative, 19,000,000 lire for pecuniary damage;
he left the matter of non-pecuniary damage to be assessed by the

        The Government denied that there had been any pecuniary
damage, because the applicant's claims were unfounded.  In
particular, his primary claim was based, inter alia, on a
consideration - the inadequate statement of reasons given in the
Rome District Court's judgment (see paragraph 9 above, no. 23) -
which could not be taken into account under Article 6 para. 1
(art. 6-1) of the Convention.

        As regards the non-pecuniary damage, a finding of a
violation would provide in itself sufficient just satisfaction in
the Government's view.

20.     There is no evidence that the applicant sustained pecuniary
damage resulting from the failure to comply with the requirement of
reasonable time.  On the other hand, he must have suffered a degree
of non-pecuniary damage, for which the Court, making an assessment
on an equitable basis, awards 5,000,000 lire.

    B.  Costs and expenses

21.     The applicant also claimed 7,502,000 lire in respect of
costs incurred in the national courts.

        The Court cannot perceive a causal connection between the
violation found and the costs incurred in the domestic legal system.
There are therefore no grounds for awarding Mr Ruotolo the
reimbursement claimed.

    C.  Interest

22.     The Commission invited the Court to fix for the Government
- who did not give their opinion - a compulsory time-limit for
executing the present judgment and to make provision for the payment
of interest in the event of their failure to comply therewith.

23.     The first of these proposals is in conformity with a
practice followed by the Court since October 1991.

        As to the second, the Court does not consider it appropriate
to require any payment of interest in this instance, particularly as
no such request was made by the applicant.


1.      Holds by eight votes to one that there has been a violation
        of Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1);

2.      Holds unanimously that the respondent State is to pay to
        Mr Ruotolo, within three months, 5,000,000 (five million)
        Italian lire for non-pecuniary damage;

3.      Dismisses unanimously the remainder of the claim for just

        Done in English and in French, and delivered at a public
hearing in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg, on
27 February 1992.

Signed: Rolv RYSSDAL

Signed: Marc-André EISSEN

        In accordance with Article 51 para. 2 (art. 51-2) of the
Convention and Rule 53 para. 2 of the Rules of Court, the dissenting
opinion of Mr Bigi is annexed to the present judgment.

Initialled: R. R.

Initialled: M.-A. E.



        I am unable to agree with the majority in this case because
I do not consider that the sum of the delays for which the State can
be held responsible amounts to an unreasonable time in this