In the case of Matos e Silva, Lda., and Others v. Portugal (1),

        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 Rules of Court A (2), as a Chamber composed of the
following judges:

        Mr  R. Ryssdal, President,
        Mr  F. Gölcüklü,
        Mr  C. Russo,
        Mr  J. De Meyer,
        Mr  S.K. Martens,
        Mr  A.N. Loizou,
        Mr  M.A. Lopes Rocha,
        Mr  B. Repik,
        Mr  P. Kuris,

and also of Mr H. Petzold, Registrar, and Mr P.J. Mahoney, Deputy
Registrar,

        Having deliberated in private on 29 March and 27 August 1996,

        Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on the
last-mentioned date:
_______________
Notes by the Registrar

1.  The case is numbered 44/1995/550/636.  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.

2.  Rules A apply to all cases referred to the Court before the entry
into force of Protocol No. 9 (P9) (1 October 1994) and thereafter only
to cases concerning States not bound by that Protocol (P9).  They
correspond to the Rules that came into force on 1 January 1983, as
amended several times subsequently.
_______________

PROCEDURE

1.      The case was referred to the Court by the European Commission
of Human Rights ("the Commission") and by the Government of the
Portuguese Republic ("the Government") on 20 May and 4 July 1995
respectively, within the three-month period laid down by
Article 32 para. 1 and Article 47 of the Convention (art. 32-1,
art. 47).  It originated in an application (no. 15777/89) against
Portugal lodged with the Commission under Article 25 (art. 25) by
Matos e Silva, Limitada, and Teodósio dos Santos Gomes, Limitada,
two private limited companies incorporated under Portuguese law, and
a Portuguese national, Mrs Maria Sofia Machado Perry Vidal, on
16 November 1989.

        The Commission's request referred to Articles 44 and 48
(art. 44, art. 48) and to the declaration whereby Portugal recognised
the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court (Article 46) (art. 46); the
Government's application referred to Article 48 (art. 48).  The object
of the request and of the application 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 of the Convention (art. 6) and
Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (P1-1).

2.      In response to the enquiry made in accordance with
Rule 33 para. 3 (d) of Rules of Court A, the applicants stated that
they wished to take part in the proceedings and designated the lawyers
who would represent them (Rule 30).

3.      The Chamber to be constituted included ex officio
Mr M.A. Lopes Rocha, the elected judge of Portuguese nationality
(Article 43 of the Convention) (art. 43), and Mr R. Ryssdal, the
President of the Court (Rule 21 para. 4 (b)).  On 8 June 1995, in the
presence of the Registrar, the President drew by lot the names of the
other seven members, namely Mr F. Gölcüklü, Mr C. Russo,
Mr J. De Meyer, Mr S.K. Martens, Mr A.N. Loizou, Mr B. Repik and
Mr P. Kuris (Article 43 in fine of the Convention and Rule 21 para. 5)
(art. 43).

4.      As President of the Chamber (Rule 21 para. 6), Mr Ryssdal,
acting through the Registrar, consulted the Agent of the Government,
the applicants' lawyers and the Delegate of the Commission on the
organisation of the proceedings (Rules 37 para. 1 and 38).  Pursuant
to the order made in consequence, the Registrar received the
Government's memorial on 20 December 1995 and the applicants' memorial
on 3 January 1996.  On 21 February 1996 the Secretary to the Commission
informed the Registrar that the Delegate would submit his observations
at the hearing.

        On 14 March 1996 the applicants lodged a number of documents.

5.      On 23 February 1996 the Commission produced the file on the
proceedings before it, as requested by the Registrar on the President's
instructions.

6.      In accordance with the President's decision, the hearing took
place in public in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg, on
25 March 1996.  The Court had held a preparatory meeting beforehand.

        There appeared before the Court:

(a)  for the Government

     Mr  A. Henriques Gaspar, Deputy Attorney-General
         of the Republic,                                      Agent,
     Mr  J.P. Ferreira Ramos de Sousa, Legal Adviser,
         Prime Minister's Office,
     Mrs L.M. Branco Santos Mota Delgado, assistant to
         the Minister of the Environment,
     Mr  N. Cara d'Anjo Lecoq, Director, Ria Formosa
         Nature Reserve,                                    Advisers;

(b)  for the Commission

     Mr  J.-C. Soyer,                                       Delegate;

(c)  for the applicants

     Mr  F. de Quadros, Professor of Law, University of
         Lisbon, advogado,
     Mr  R. Dolzer, Professor of Law, University of Bonn,    Counsel,
     Mr  P. Barbas Homem, Lecturer in Law, University of
         Lisbon,
     Mr  S. Costa Pardal, Professor of Town and Country
         Planning, Technical University of Lisbon,
     Mr  N.J. Cabral, economist,                           Advisers.

        The Court heard addresses by Mr Soyer, Mr de Quadros, Mr Dolzer
and Mr Henriques Gaspar.

7.      The applicants and the Government produced various documents
at the hearing.  On 23 April 1996 the applicants submitted observations
on those lodged by the Government.  The Government submitted comments
on 15 May 1996.

8.      On 15 July 1996 the applicants produced a valuation of the
"Herdade do Ludo", prepared by the National Heritage Department.

AS TO THE FACTS

I.      Particular circumstances of the case

9.      The first applicant, Matos e Silva, Lda. ("Matos e Silva"), is
a private limited company entered in the companies' register at Loulé
(Portugal).  It, alone among the applicants, was a party to the
domestic proceedings (see paragraphs 13 to 45 below).  The second and
third applicants, Mrs Maria Sofia Machado Perry Vidal and
Teodósio dos Santos Gomes, Lda., another company, are the only
shareholders in and owners of Matos e Silva.  The second applicant
manages both companies.

    A.  The background to the case

10.     Matos e Silva works land in the municipality of Loulé.  It
cultivates the land, extracts salt and breeds fish.

11.     It owns part of this land, having bought the parcels in
question on different occasions.

        The remainder was worked under a concession granted under a
royal decree of 21 July 1884 to Basilio de Castelbranco.  Article 2 of
the decree provided that the parcels of land over which the concession
had been granted could be expropriated without any right to
compensation for the grantees.  In 1886 Basilio de Castelbranco
assigned the concession to the Compagnia Exploradora de Terrenos
Salgados do Algarve.  When that company was wound up, some of its
former shareholders purchased the concession.  They formed the
Matos e Silva company whose object was in particular to purchase and
work part of the salt marshes which were the subject matter of the
concession.  On 12 August 1899 that company executed a sale and
purchase agreement before a notary in respect of those parcels of land.
On 16 September 1899 it had the agreement recorded in the Loulé land
register in the following terms: "1899 - 16 September ... The transfer
of the usable area of the third glebe of the Ludo parcel [prazo] ...
together with the parcels of land known as Ludo and Marchil ... is
registered in favour of the Matos e Silva company ..., which purchased
them ... for a total price of 79,500 $ 000 reis [sic] ..."  Since then,
Matos e Silva has acted in respect of that land uti dominus, paying the
taxes and duties provided for by Portuguese legislation on land
ownership.

12.     On 2 May 1978, by Decree no. 45/78, the Portuguese Government
created a nature reserve for animals (Reserva Natural da Ria Formosa)
on the Algarve coast (municipalities of Loulé, Olhão and Faro),
including the parcels of Matos e Silva's land known as
"Herdade do Muro do Ludo", or "Quinta do Ludo" or again
"Herdade do Ludo".  The Government took various measures in connection
with this scheme, including the five contested by the applicants.

    B.  The five contested measures and the proceedings relating
        to them

        1. Legislative Decree no. 121/83 of 1 March 1983

13.     By Legislative Decree no. 121/83 of 1 March 1983 the Government
declared that half of Matos e Silva's land was needed for public
purposes.  This public-interest declaration was a preliminary to
expropriating the land with a view to building an aquacultural research
station on it.

14.     On 18 April 1983 Matos e Silva challenged this administrative
decision in the Administrative Proceedings Division of the Supreme
Administrative Court.  The appeal - lodged with the Prime Minister's
office in accordance with Article 2 of Legislative Decree no. 256-A/77,
which was applicable at the time (see paragraph 49 below) - was
forwarded to the Supreme Administrative Court on 9 May.

15.     On 17 April 1985, after an exchange of pleadings,
Matos e Silva, relying on Article 9 para. 2 of the Expropriations Code
(see paragraph 47 below), made an application to discontinue the
proceedings on the ground that they had become devoid of purpose in
view of the fact that the public-interest declaration in
Legislative Decree no. 121/83 was no longer valid.

        It renewed this application on 21 May 1986, 20 July 1987 and
19 April 1988.

16.     On 6 May 1988 the Supreme Administrative Court decided not to
rule on the validity of the declaration before examining the
application which had in the meantime been lodged by Matos e Silva
against Legislative Decree no. 173/84 and was under consideration in
the Prime Minister's office (see paragraph 32 below).

        Accordingly, the Supreme Administrative Court requested the
Prime Minister to send it the application instituting the proceedings
(petição do recurso).  No reply was forthcoming to its reminders of
11 May 1988, 23 September 1988 and 13 December 1988.

17.     On 16 May 1989 State Counsel applied for a stay of the
proceedings until the application for an order quashing Legislative
Decree no. 173/84 had been determined.  Matos e Silva opposed the
application for a stay and renewed its application to discontinue the
proceedings.

18.     In a decision of 28 September 1989 the
Supreme Administrative Court decided to stay the proceedings and
dismissed the company's application.  It held that Article 9 para. 2
of the Expropriations Code was not applicable to the case before it
because Legislative Decree no. 173/84 had suspended the effect of the
public-interest declaration contained in Legislative Decree no. 121/83.
A measure which had no existence in the legal order could not lapse.
Moreover, it was necessary to await the outcome of the application
against Legislative Decree no. 173/84.  In any event, the
public-interest declaration contained in Legislative Decree no. 121/83
could be revived if Legislative Decree no. 173/84 were to be quashed.

19.     On 8 February 1990 Matos e Silva appealed against that decision
to a full court of the Administrative Proceedings Division of the
Supreme Administrative Court.  That appeal was dismissed in a judgment
of 17 October 1992.  On 1 April 1993, arguing that there had been
conflicting decisions on the same point of law, the company appealed
against the Supreme Administrative Court's ruling.  However, on
23 April 1993 the reporting judge declared the appeal inadmissible.
The company filed an objection to that decision, but to no avail.

20.     The proceedings are still pending.

        2. The order of 4 August 1983

21.     In a joint order of the Prime Minister and the Ministers of
Finance and for the Environment (Qualidade de Vida) of 4 August 1983,
the Government made a public-interest declaration with a view to the
expropriation of the other half of Matos e Silva's land in order to set
up a single nature reserve for the protection of migrant birds and
other important species.  The order authorised "the immediate taking
of possession" of the land by the State.

22.     On 15 November 1983 Matos e Silva appealed against that order.
The Supreme Administrative Court registered the appeal on 20 December,
the Prime Minister's office having forwarded it on 15 December 1983
(see paragraph 49 below).

23.     On 9 October 1985 Matos e Silva made an application to
discontinue the proceedings identical to the one it had lodged in the
earlier proceedings (see paragraph 15 above).  It renewed its request
on 7 July 1986 and 15 June 1989, but without success.

24.     The Supreme Administrative Court again held that it could not
rule on the appeal before examining the application which had in the
meantime been lodged against Legislative Decree no. 173/84
(see paragraph 16 above and paragraph 32 below) and was under
consideration in the Prime Minister's office.

        With a view to obtaining the application instituting those
proceedings, the court issued eight orders to the Prime Minister
between 23 April 1987 and 26 January 1989, but they were not complied
with.

        On 18 May 1989 the Prime Minister responded to a ninth order
issued on 24 April 1989.  He informed the court that the original of
the application instituting the proceedings had disappeared and that
he had only a copy.  No documents were enclosed with his letter.

25.     On 10 July 1989 Matos e Silva itself produced to the
Supreme Administrative Court a copy of the application in question.

26.     On 3 December 1989 State Counsel asked the court to stay the
proceedings on the same grounds as those given in his application in
relation to the previous appeal (see paragraph 17 above).

27.     On 3 April 1990 the court delivered a judgment staying the
proceedings for reasons identical to those set out in its judgment of
28 September 1989 (see paragraph 18 above).

        On 24 April 1990 Matos e Silva appealed against that decision
to a full court of the Administrative Proceedings Division of the
Supreme Administrative Court, which dismissed the appeal by a decision
of 17 June 1993.

28.     The proceedings are still pending.

        3. Legislative Decree no. 173/84 of 24 May 1984

29.     By Legislative Decree no. 173/84 of 24 May 1984 and "with a
view to carrying out works in the public interest, and more
particularly to creating a single reserve...", the Government "withdrew
the concession to work all the parcels of land referred to in Article 1
[of the decree of 21 July 1884]".  The withdrawal "[was] to be effected
in the manner in which expropriation [was permitted] by the
[1884 decree]" (see paragraph 11 above).  Under Articles 3 and 4 of
Legislative Decree no. 173/84, the State was to take immediate
possession of the land without any formalities or compensation except
that payable for necessary and useful improvements made to the
property.

30.     Matos e Silva then made an application to the Government on
25 June 1984 requesting them to reconsider their decision; the outcome
of that application is not known.

31.     At the same time, the company applied to the
Administrative Proceedings Division of the Supreme Administrative Court
for the effects (eficacia) of Decree no. 173/84 to be suspended.  By
a decision of 18 July 1985, which was upheld by a full court, the court
granted the application and decided to suspend the effects of the
decree in question pending a decision on the merits.

32.     On 9 July 1984 Matos e Silva applied to the same court for an
order quashing the decree.  This application was submitted to the
Prime Minister's office (see paragraph 49 below).

        The company relied on the following grounds, among others:

        (a) there had still been no compensation for the two earlier
expropriations;

        (b) the reasons given by the Government on each occasion to
justify the expropriations were different and inconsistent, a bird
sanctuary and an aquacultural research station being incompatible with
each other; and Legislative Decree no. 173/84 purported to create a
single reserve on the land;

        (c) the expropriation order was discriminatory in that it
concerned almost exclusively Matos e Silva's land and not other land
in the same area and with the same conditions and characteristics
belonging to other persons or companies.

33.     The Prime Minister's office decided to send the file to the
Ministry of the Environment.  The new Minister issued an order dated
9 August 1984 (see paragraph 53 below) setting up a committee entrusted
with the task of making, within thirty-seven days, a proposal for,
among other things, repealing Legislative Decree no. 173/84.

34.     However, in October 1985, a new Government was formed and the
proposed repeal came to nothing.

35.     Having seen the Prime Minister's letter of 18 May 1989
(see paragraph 24 above) and forwarded a copy of its application
(see paragraph 25 above), Matos e Silva, in accordance with
Articles 1074 et seq. of the Civil Code, requested reconstitution
(reforma) of the administrative file.  In an interlocutory decision of
18 October 1990 the reporting judge stated that the copy of the
application instituting the proceedings had been communicated by the
Government.  When the company sought rectification of this statement,
he accepted in a decision of 31 October 1991 that the application had
in fact been submitted by the company.  However, the administrative
file was not reconstituted.

36.     On 17 February 1992 Matos e Silva applied to discontinue the
proceedings on the same grounds as those it had invoked in the
proceedings concerning Legislative Decree no. 121/83 (see paragraph 15
above).

37.     On 17 September 1992 the Supreme Administrative Court decided
that it would not proceed until it had been sent the file relating to
the administrative application (processo gracioso).  To this end, on
26 January and 23 April 1993, it ordered the Government to send it the
file in question.

        The Government did so on 25 October 1993.  However, the
application instituting the proceedings was not on the file.

38.     At the beginning of 1994 Matos e Silva filed a memorial and an
opinion.  On 8 March 1995 State Counsel made his final submissions in
favour of quashing the contested measure.  In an order of 26 April 1995
the reporting judge expressed the view that all the issues raised in
the appeal were essentially dependent on whether the company was the
owner of the land.  In these circumstances the
Supreme Administrative Court should stay the proceedings until the
relevant civil court had ruled on ownership in separate proceedings.
Consequently, pursuant to Article 4 of Legislative Decree no. 129/84
governing the administrative and tax courts (see paragraph 51 below),
it was ordered that the proceedings be stayed.

        On an appeal by the company, the First Division of the
Supreme Administrative Court quashed that order on 19 December 1995 on
the ground that the reporting judge did not have jurisdiction to make
it.  After itself considering the issue, the court stayed the
proceedings to enable the company to commence proceedings in the
civil courts, given that if the parties took no action for more than
three months, the issue would be decided on the evidence in the file
(see paragraph 50 below).

        The company has appealed against that decision to a full court
of the Supreme Administrative Court which has not, at the date of
adoption of the present judgment, yet decided the appeal.

        4. Legislative Decree no. 373/87 of 9 December 1987

39.     By Legislative Decree no. 373/87 of 9 December 1987 the
Government created the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve on the Algarve and
adopted rules for the protection of the area's ecosystem.  Among other
things, these rules prohibited, in addition to all building, any change
in the use of the land and the starting up of any new agricultural and
fish-farming activities without permission.

40.     On 8 February 1988 Matos e Silva challenged this decree in the
Administrative Proceedings Division of the Supreme Administrative
Court.  It claimed that the rules governing the exercise of its right
of property over its land that were contained in the decree were more
restrictive than the restrictions affecting adjoining land.  It pointed
out in addition that the offending measure amounted to an expropriation
in view of the number of restrictions imposed.

41.     On 18 April 1994 the court decided to stay the proceedings
pending a determination of the merits of the application for an order
quashing Legislative Decree no. 173/84.  The proceedings are therefore
still pending.

        5. Regulatory Decree no. 2/91 of 24 January 1991

42.     By "regulatory" Decree no. 2/91 of 24 January 1991 the
Government approved a "Plan for the organisation and regulation of the
Ria Formosa Nature Reserve" (Plano de Ordenamento e Regulamento do
Parque natural da Ria Formosa).

43.     On 23 March 1991 Matos e Silva challenged this decree in the
Administrative Proceedings Division of the
Supreme Administrative Court.  It alleged a violation of the principles
of equality and proportionality and argued that the decree constituted
a further expropriation measure.

44.     Following an exchange of pleadings the court sought information
on 7 April 1992 concerning the course of the proceedings in connection
with Legislative Decree no. 173/84.

45.     On 9 June 1993 the court stayed the proceedings on the grounds
given above.

II.     Relevant domestic law

    A.  The Constitution

46.     Article 62 of the Constitution provides:

        "1. The right to private property and the right to transfer
        property inter vivos or by succession shall be guaranteed to
        everyone, in accordance with the Constitution.

        2. Requisition and expropriation in the public interest may be
        effected only in accordance with law and subject to payment of
        fair compensation."

    B.  The Expropriations Code

47.     The 1976 Expropriations Code, as it applied at the material
time, contained the following provisions:

                           Article 1 para. 1

        "Real property and the rights relating to it may be
        expropriated on public-interest grounds in so far as such
        grounds fall within the competence of the expropriating
        authority, subject to payment of fair compensation."

                           Article 9 para. 2

        "A public-interest declaration shall lapse if the property has
        not been acquired within a period of two years or if no
        arbitration board has been set up within that same period."

                          Article 27 para. 1

        "Expropriation of a property or right on public-interest
        grounds shall confer on the expropriated person the right to
        receive fair compensation."

48.     Articles 1 and 22 para. 1 of the 1991 Expropriations Code,
which is currently applicable, provide as follows:

                               Article 1

        "Real property and the rights relating to it may be
        expropriated on public-interest grounds in so far as such
        grounds fall within the competence of the expropriating
        authority, subject to immediate payment of fair compensation."

                          Article 22 para. 1

        "Expropriation of any property or right on public-interest
        grounds shall entitle the expropriated person to immediate
        payment of fair compensation."

    C.  The legislative decrees on procedure in the administrative
        courts

49.     Article 2 of Legislative Decree no. 256-A/77 of 17 June 1977
provided as follows:

        "1.     Administrative decisions which are final and
        enforceable may be challenged by means of an application for
        judicial review, which shall be made to the competent court
        and lodged with the authority that took the decision in
        question.

        2.      The administrative authority may, within a period of
        thirty days, revoke or confirm the impugned decision in whole
        or in part.

        3.      In any event, the administrative authority shall,
        within the same period, forward the administrative file
        containing the relevant documents to the appropriate court or
        tribunal.

        4.      If there is no production, the applicant may ask the
        court to take possession of the file and documents concerning
        the applicant so that the proceedings may continue.

        5.      ..."

50.     This provision was amended by Legislative Decree no. 267/85 of
16 July 1985, which contains the following relevant Articles:

                               Article 7

        "Where either party fails, for more than three months, to
        make, or diligently pursue an application on a preliminary
        issue then the main proceedings shall continue and the
        preliminary issue shall be decided on the basis of such
        evidence as is admissible in those proceedings.  The effects
        of such a decision shall be confined solely to the proceedings
        in question."

                              Article 11

        "1.     Where, without good cause, evidence relevant to the
        determination of the case is not produced, the court may order
        any appropriate measures, including the one provided for in
        Article 4 of Legislative Decree no. 227/77 of 31 May, and
        shall issue an injunction to the administrative authority in
        question, in accordance with Article 84.

        2.      Where the administrative authority again fails to
        comply, the court may draw such inferences from that conduct
        as it thinks fit."

                              Article 84

        "1.     In its decision the court shall stipulate the time
        within which the injunction is to be obeyed.

        2.      Refusal to comply with the injunction shall give rise
        to civil, disciplinary and criminal liability in accordance
        with Article 11 of Legislative Decree no. 256-A/77 of
        17 June."

    D.  The other relevant provisions

        1.  Legislative Decree no. 129/84 of 27 April 1984

51.     Article 4 para. 2 of Legislative Decree no. 129/84 of
27 April 1984 governing administrative and tax courts is worded as
follows:

        "Where a decision on the merits of the action or appeal turns
        on the determination of an issue within the jurisdiction of
        other courts, the tribunal may defer judgment until the
        relevant court has given its ruling; the consequences of a
        failure by the interested parties to make or diligently pursue
        the proceedings concerning the preliminary issue shall be laid
        down in procedural provisions."

        2.  Legislative Decree no. 227/77 of 31 May 1977

52.     Article 4 of Legislative Decree no. 227/77 of 31 May 1977
provides:

        "1. Where, without justification, the case file relating to an
        administrative application [processo gracioso], or any other
        evidence requested by a court in order to assist its
        examination of an appeal, is not produced within a period of
        thirty days the reporting judge shall forward the appeal to
        State Counsel's office, in order that the latter may make its
        submissions within thirty days, failing which the penalties
        set out in the following paragraph shall apply.

        2. Where a period of thirty days has elapsed following
        submission of the opinion of State Counsel's office, as
        provided for in paragraph 1, and the documents requested have,
        without good cause, not been produced, the proceedings shall
        resume and the court may draw such inferences from the conduct
        of the authority in question as it sees fit."

        3.  Order no. 77/84 of 9 August 1984 issued by the Ministry of
            the Environment

53.     Order no. 77/84 of 9 August 1984 issued by the Ministry of the
Environment is worded as follows:

        "1. Taking note of Legislative Decree no. 173/84 of 24 May,
        which concerns all the land that is the subject of a royal
        concession granted by Government Decree no. 165 of
        21 July 1884, without any restriction or discrimination in
        respect of such land;

        2. Observing that much of this land, amounting to several
        thousand hectares, is now private property which has nothing
        to do with the aims of protecting the environment and natural
        resources which it is said will be achieved by withdrawing the
        concession, thereby entailing a flood of potential lawsuits
        and payment by the State of huge amounts of compensation;

        3. Observing that the statutory provision refers expressly to
        the "Herdade do Ludo" or, in other words,
        "Herdade do Muro do Ludo", which represents only a small part
        of the land covered by the royal concession of 1884;

        4. Observing likewise that even the "Herdade do Muro do Ludo"
        is only partly of special interest from the point of view of
        protecting bird life;

        5. Decides to set up a committee ... to make a proposal
        concerning:

        (i) the repeal of Legislative Decree no. 173/84 and any other
        legislation on this subject;

        (ii) the tabling of a draft of a new legislative decree
        intended to transfer to the State as part of the national
        heritage all the land which, being part of the estate
        designated as "Herdade do Ludo" or outside it, is of value for
        the bird life which it is sought to protect by means of
        establishing a sanctuary;

        (iii) compensation or a fair method for calculating such
        compensation based on the improvements [benfeitorias] made to
        the land to be transferred to the State;

        (iv) the final regularisation of the land in private hands
        [dominio particular] which is of no value for the sanctuary
        and was covered by the royal concession of 1884.

        6. The committee thus appointed is to carry out its task
        before 15 September 1984; however, the proposal for the repeal
        of Legislative Decree no. 173/84, duly reasoned, shall be
        submitted to the Ministry of the Environment by 21 August so
        as to be put on the agenda of the next meeting of the Cabinet
        and shall contain any provisions that may be necessary to make
        clear that the State remains interested in the sanctuary and
        is determined to transfer as part of the national heritage the
        land to be incorporated in it."

PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION

54.     In their application of 16 November 1989 to the Commission
(no. 15777/89), the Matos e Silva and Teodósio dos Santos Gomes
companies and Mrs Perry Vidal complained of a violation of Article 6
para. 1 of the Convention (art. 6-1) on account of the length of the
administrative proceedings.  They also relied on Article 13 of the
Convention (art. 13) in that no effective remedy before a national
authority was available to them to challenge the infringements of their
rights caused by the Government's measures.  In addition, they alleged
a violation of their right to the peaceful enjoyment of their
possessions as guaranteed by Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (P1-1).
Lastly, in conjunction with the latter provision (P1-1), they relied
on Article 14 of the Convention (art. 14), complaining of
discrimination in relation to other owners of land in the same area.

55.     On 29 November 1993 the Commission declared the application
admissible.  In its report of 21 February 1995 (Article 31) (art. 31),
it expressed the opinion that:

        (a) there had been a violation of Article 6 para. 1 of the
Convention (art. 6-1) by reason of the lack of effective access to a
court (nineteen votes to three);

        (b) no separate issue arose under Article 6 of the Convention
(art. 6) on account of the length of the proceedings (twenty votes to
two);

        (c) there had been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1
(P1-1) (twenty-one votes to one);

        (d) it was not necessary to examine the complaint based on the
violation of Article 14 of the Convention taken in conjunction with
Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (art. 14+P1-1) (twenty-one votes to one).

        The full text of the Commission's opinion and of the partly
dissenting opinion contained in the report is reproduced as an annex
to this judgment (1).
_______________
Note by the Registrar

1.  For practical reasons this annex will appear only with the printed
version of the judgment (in Reports of Judgments and
Decisions 1996-IV), but a copy of the Commission's report is obtainable
from the registry.
_______________

FINAL SUBMISSIONS TO THE COURT BY THE GOVERNMENT

56.     In their memorial, the Government

        "[requested] the Court to hold that in the instant case there
        [had] been no violation either of Article 6 para. 1 of the
        Convention (art. 6-1) (right of access to a court) or of
        Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (P1-1)".

AS TO THE LAW

I.      THE GOVERNMENT'S PRELIMINARY OBJECTIONS

57.     The Government submitted that the applicants had not exhausted
domestic remedies and that the Court had no jurisdiction ratione
materiae.  On both points they argued that the question of the
ownership of the land in question was still pending before the domestic
courts.

58.     According to the applicants, the question of the exhaustion of
domestic remedies did not arise as the proceedings had been at a
standstill for thirteen years.  Moreover, the ownership of the land in
question was not open to doubt (see paragraph 73 below).

59.     The Court notes that the objection of a failure to exhaust
domestic remedies was raised before the Commission with regard to
Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (P1-1) only.  However, like the Delegate
of the Commission, it takes the view that the preliminary objections
are closely linked to consideration of the merits of the complaints
under Article 6 of the Convention (art. 6) and Article 1 of
Protocol No. 1 (P1-1).  It therefore joins them to the merits.

II.     ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF ARTICLE 13 (art. 13) AND ARTICLE 6
        PARA. 1 (art. 6-1) OF THE CONVENTION

60.     The applicants complained firstly of the lack of an effective
remedy before a national authority and secondly of the length of the
five sets of proceedings brought in respect of the disputed measures.
They claimed to be victims of breaches of Article 13 and Article 6
para. 1 of the Convention (art. 13, art. 6-1), which provide:

                         Article 13 (art. 13)

        "Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this
        Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before
        a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has
        been committed by persons acting in an official capacity."

                     Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1)

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

   A.   The complaint of lack of access to a tribunal

61.     In the applicants' submission, the lack of effective access to
a tribunal was evidenced by the fact that the disputed proceedings were
at a total standstill.  Four out of the five sets of proceedings had
been stayed pending a decision on the merits in the proceedings
relating to Legislative Decree no. 173/84, whose subject matter had
been treated as a preliminary issue in the other sets of proceedings.
In the proceedings relating to Legislative Decree no. 173/84 the
Supreme Administrative Court had waited for more than ten years for the
Government to forward the administrative file and to date had still not
received the initial application or given judgment.  Under
Portuguese law, despite the fact that the file had not been forwarded,
the Supreme Administrative Court was nonetheless required to come to
a decision on the basis of the available evidence.

62.     The Commission accepted that argument.  In its view, the
hindrances in question impaired the very essence of the applicants'
right of access to a tribunal.

63.     The Government argued that the applicants had had effective
access to a tribunal by availing themselves of all the remedies which
domestic law afforded them.  They had brought proceedings in the
appropriate court.  In the five sets of proceedings they had asserted
their rights using the machinery made available to them by
Portuguese law.  The proceedings concerning
Legislative Decree no. 173/84 were continuing, though admittedly with
delays due to interlocutory matters and to circumstances connected with
the working of the court itself.  However, only the length of the
proceedings was in issue, not any lack of effective access.

64.     In the Court's view, no question of hindering access to a
tribunal arises where a litigant, represented by a lawyer, freely
brings proceedings in a court, makes his submissions to it and lodges
such appeals against its decisions as he considers appropriate.  As the
Government rightly pointed out, Matos e Silva have used the remedies
available under Portuguese law.  The fact that the proceedings are
taking a long time does not concern access to a tribunal.  The
difficulties encountered thus relate to conduct of proceedings, not to
access.

        In short, there has been no violation of Article 13 (art. 13)
or, in this regard, of Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1), the requirements
of the former (art. 13) being moreover less strict than, and here
absorbed by, those of the latter (art. 6-1).

    B.  The complaint as to the length of the proceedings

65.     The applicants submitted that there had been a breach of
Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1) on account of the excessive length of the
proceedings, which had had the same effects as a lack of effective
access to a tribunal.

66.     Before the Court the Government acknowledged that the
proceedings relating to the application for judicial review of
Legislative Decree no. 173/84 had to date been delayed and that their
length, and consequently that of the other four sets of proceedings,
had exceeded what could legitimately be expected.

67.     As the Commission had expressed the opinion that there had been
a violation of Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1) for lack of effective
access to a tribunal, it considered that no separate issue arose with
respect to the length of the proceedings.

68.     The Court notes that the proceedings in question commenced on
18 April 1983, 15 November 1983, 9 July 1984, 8 February 1988 and
23 March 1991 and are still pending.  Their length to the date of
adoption of this judgment has therefore been approximately
thirteen years and four months, twelve years and nine months,
twelve years and one and a half months, eight and a half years and
five years and five months.

69.     As the Government have conceded that there has been a breach,
the Court does not consider it necessary to examine the reasonableness
of the length of each set of proceedings with reference to the criteria
laid down in its case-law.  There is no doubt that the length of the
proceedings taken as a whole cannot be considered "reasonable" in this
case.

70.     Having regard to all these considerations, the Court dismisses
the Government's preliminary objections with respect to this part of
the case and considers that there has been a violation of Article 6
para. 1 (art. 6-1) in this respect.

III.    ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL No. 1 (P1-1)

71.     The applicants also complained of three expropriation measures
and of two measures similar to expropriation.  They considered that
they amounted to a breach of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (P1-1), which
provides:

        "Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful
        enjoyment of his possessions.  No one shall be deprived of his
        possessions except in the public interest and subject to the
        conditions provided for by law and by the general principles
        of international law.

        The preceding provisions (P1-1) shall not, however, in any way
        impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems
        necessary to control the use of property in accordance with
        the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or
        other contributions or penalties."

    A.  Whether there was a "possession"

72.     The Government devoted most of their submissions to arguing
that the applicants did not have any "possessions" within the meaning
of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (P1-1).  Matos e Silva's legal position
as owner of the land in question was debatable under domestic law.
Consequently, the applicants could not allege an infringement of a
property right that had not been established.

73.     The applicants denied that there was an issue in
Portuguese law.  They pointed out that part of the land had never been
included in the royal concession.  Ownership of the land previously
covered by the 1884 concession derived from the presumption in law
created by the fact that their purchase in 1899 had been entered in the
land register; the validity of that entry had never been contested.
In any event, the 1884 concession had itself already transferred
ownership to the grantee at the time.  Besides, the State had always
regarded Matos e Silva as owner of the land since it had, for example,
acquired for value a very large tract of it as the site for
Faro airport in 1969 and had at all times collected property taxes on
all the land.  In any case, Matos e Silva had become the owner by
adverse possession.  Lastly, State Counsel himself, in his pleadings
of 8 March 1995 in the proceedings concerning
Legislative Decree no. 173/84, had recognised the company's ownership
of the "Quinta do Ludo".

74.     The Commission considered that for the purposes of the instant
case Matos e Silva was to be regarded as owner of the land in question.

75.     Like the Commission, the Court notes that the ownership of part
of the land is not contested.

        As to the other part (see paragraph 11 above), the Court agrees
with the Government that it is not for the Court to decide whether or
not a right of property exists under domestic law.  However, it recalls
that the notion "possessions" (in French: "biens") in Article 1 of
Protocol No. 1 (P1-1) has an autonomous meaning (see the
Gasus Dosier- und Fördertechnik GmbH v. the Netherlands judgment of
23 February 1995, Series A no. 306-B, p. 46, para. 53).  In the present
case the applicants' unchallenged rights over the disputed land for
almost a century and the revenue they derive from working it may
qualify as "possessions" for the purposes of Article 1 (P1-1).

    B.  Whether there was an interference

76.     In the applicants' submission, it was not in doubt that there
had been an interference with their right to the peaceful enjoyment of
their possessions.  The land in question was subject to several
restrictions.  Apart from a ban on building and easements and
restrictions affecting development of the land, the profitability of
the land was currently about 40% less than it had been in 1983.
Furthermore, it was impossible to sell the land because potential
purchasers would be deterred by the legal position.  The suspension of
the effects of Legislative Decree no. 173/84 would have no influence
on the restrictions on ownership brought about by successive Government
measures since 1 March 1983.  Lastly, the State had never paid or
offered any compensation.

77.     The Government maintained that there had not been a deprivation
of property.  The expropriation procedure had never been set in motion
and no action had ever been taken with respect to the land, whose
status was the same as before.  Under Articles 9 et seq. of the
1976 Expropriations Code, a public-interest declaration was a
preliminary to expropriation proceedings.  By itself it did not affect
the content of ownership and did not make it impossible to dispose of
the land concerned, especially as it lapsed after two years.  For that
reason, during that period, the declarations had not caused any
interference or a transfer of or change to the title on the basis of
which the applicants worked the land.  In addition,
Legislative Decree no. 173/84 had rendered the earlier measures
nugatory and prevented them from being of any effect in the future.
It had merely brought about a withdrawal of the concession, not an
expropriation.  Its effects had been suspended by a judgment of the
Supreme Administrative Court on 18 July 1985 and it had not caused any
interference.  In conclusion neither the legal title by virtue of which
the applicants cultivated the land in question nor the conditions in
which the land was worked in practice had really changed.

78.     The Commission expressed the view that the measures in issue
amounted to an interference with the peaceful enjoyment of possessions.
In particular, the applicants' control of the land in issue had, in
practical terms, been substantially restricted as farming, fish farming
and salt production could not be developed and building on the land was
prohibited.

79.     Like the Commission, the Court notes that although the disputed
measures have, as a matter of law, left intact the applicants' right
to deal with and use their possessions, they have nevertheless greatly
reduced their ability to do so in practice.  They also affect the very
substance of ownership in that three of them recognise in advance the
lawfulness of an expropriation.  The other two measures, the one
creating and the other regulating the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, also
incontestably restrict the right to use the possessions.  For
approximately thirteen years the applicants have thus remained
uncertain what would become of their properties.  The result of all the
disputed decisions has been that since 1983 their right over the
possessions has become precarious.  Although a remedy in respect of the
contested measures was available, the position was in practice the same
as if none existed.

        In conclusion, the applicants have suffered an interference
with their right to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions.  The
consequences of that interference were, without any doubt, aggravated
by the combined use of the public-interest declarations and the
creation of a nature reserve over a long period (see the
Sporrong and Lönnroth v. Sweden judgment of 23 September 1982,
Series A no. 52, pp. 23-24, para. 60).

    C.  Whether the interference was justified

80.     It remains to be determined whether or not this interference
contravenes Article 1 (P1-1).

        1.  The applicable rule

81.     Article 1 (P1-1) guarantees in substance the right of property.
It comprises three distinct rules.  The first, which is expressed in
the first sentence of the first paragraph (P1-1-1) and is of a general
nature, lays down the principle of peaceful enjoyment of property.  The
second rule, in the second sentence of the same paragraph (P1-1-1),
covers deprivation of possessions and makes it subject to certain
conditions.  The third, contained in the second paragraph (P1-1-2),
recognises that the Contracting States are entitled, amongst other
things, to control the use of property in accordance with the general
interest, by enforcing such laws as they deem necessary for the
purpose.  However, the rules are not "distinct" in the sense of being
unconnected: the second and third rules are concerned with particular
instances of interference with the right to peaceful enjoyment of
property.  They must therefore be construed in the light of the general
principle laid down in the first rule (see, among other authorities,
the Phocas v. France judgment of 23 April 1996, Reports of Judgments
and Decisions 1996-II, pp. 541-42, para. 51).

82.     The applicants submitted that the combined effects of the
five measures had resulted in a de facto expropriation of their
possessions.  The first two measures were indeed expropriation measures
since, under Portuguese law, a public-interest declaration set in
motion the expropriation procedure and was followed merely by an
enforcement measure.  The third measure was actually entitled
expropriation.  Yet no compensation was paid to the applicants.  The
owner lost all right to sell his property in its previous condition;
he could only transfer precarious rights.  In any event, it was no
longer possible to work normally land that was subject to three public-
interest declarations, several prohibitions including one on building,
several easements and an authorisation enabling the State to take
immediate possession of the land.

83.     According to the Government, there had been no deprivation of
property either de jure or de facto and no interference with the way
in which the land in question was exploited.

84.     The Commission expressed the view that the interference did not
amount to a de facto expropriation.  With the exception of
Legislative Decree no. 173/84, the disputed measures imposed
restrictions directed at controlling the use of property.  The
different measures had to be looked at in the light of the combined
provisions of the first sentence of the first paragraph of Article 1
of Protocol No. 1 (P1-1-1) and the second paragraph of that Article
(P1-1-2).

85.     In the Court's opinion, there was no formal or de facto
expropriation in the present case.  The effects of the measures are not
such that they can be equated with deprivation of possessions.  As the
Delegate of the Commission stated, the position was not irreversible
as it had been in the case of Papamichalopoulos and Others v. Greece
(judgment of 24 June 1993, Series A no. 260-B, p. 70, paras. 44-45).
The restrictions on the right to property stemmed from the reduced
ability to dispose of the property and from the damage sustained by
reason of the fact that expropriation was contemplated.  Although the
right in question had lost some of its substance, it had not
disappeared.  The Court notes, for example, that all reasonable manner
of exploiting the property had not disappeared seeing that the
applicants continued to work the land.  The second sentence of the
first paragraph (P1-1-1) is therefore not applicable in the instant
case.

        Although the measures did not all have the same legal effect
and had different aims, they must be looked at together in the light
of the first sentence of the first paragraph of Article 1 of
Protocol No. 1 (P1-1-1).

        2.  Compliance with the rule set forth in the first sentence
            of the first paragraph (P1-1-1)

86.     For the purposes of the first sentence of the first paragraph
(P1-1-1), the Court must determine whether a fair balance was struck
between the demands of the general interest of the community and the
requirements of the protection of the individual's fundamental rights
(see the Sporrong and Lönnroth judgment previously cited, p. 26,
para. 69).

            (a) The general interest

87.     According to the applicants, a scrutiny of the five measures
does not indicate any coherent strategy with regard to their
possessions.

88.     Even though the purpose for which the applicants' possessions
were intended was changed several times, the Court, like the
Commission, accepts that the measures pursued the public interest
relied on by the Government, that is to say town and country planning
for the purposes of protecting the environment.

            (b)     Whether a fair balance was struck between the
                    opposing interests

89.     In the applicants' submission, the measures taken were never
necessary in the public interest as they had never been followed up.
The Portuguese State did not implement the programmes which the
three expropriation measures should have enabled it to launch.  It did
not at any stage build an aquaculture station or establish a single
reserve for migrant birds or a general nature reserve.

90.     The Government maintained that the decisions concerned struck
an adequate and reasonable balance between the public interest pursued
and the various private interests as regards individual use of and
profit from the land.  In this instance, the State had a duty to
prevent improper and speculative uses of the land.  The length of the
proceedings could not be taken into account.

91.     As to proportionality, the Commission considered that the
length of the proceedings, coupled with the fact that it had so far
been impossible for the applicants to obtain even partial compensation
for the damage sustained, upset the balance which should be struck
between protection of the right of property and the requirements of the
general interest.

92.     The Court recognises that the various measures taken with
respect to the possessions concerned did not lack a reasonable basis.

        However, it observes that in the circumstances of the case the
measures had serious and harmful effects that have hindered the
applicants' ordinary enjoyment of their right for more than
thirteen years during which time virtually no progress has been made
in the proceedings.  The long period of uncertainty both as to what
would become of the possessions and as to the question of compensation
further aggravated the detrimental effects of the disputed measures.

        As a result, the applicants have had to bear an individual and
excessive burden which has upset the fair balance which should be
struck between the requirements of the general interest and the
protection of the right to the peaceful enjoyment of one's possessions.

93.     Having regard to all these considerations, the Court dismisses
the Government's preliminary objections with respect to this part of
the case and holds that there has been a violation of Article 1 of
Protocol No. 1 (P1-1).

IV.     ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 14 OF THE CONVENTION TAKEN IN
        CONJUNCTION WITH ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL NO. 1 (art. 14+P1-1)

94.     Lastly, the applicants alleged a violation of Article 14 of the
Convention taken in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1
(art. 14+P1-1) in that the infringement of the right guaranteed by this
latter provision (P1-1) had only affected their land and not their
neighbours', although these tracts of land were no different in nature.
Consequently, the applicants had been unable to make from the land's
tourist development potential a profit similar to that made by the
owners of the adjoining land.

95.     The Government submitted that the nature reserve incorporated
other land besides that of the applicants and that if there had been
any discrimination, it had been caused not by the State but by nature
itself.

96.     Having regard to the conclusion in paragraph 93 above, the
Court, like the Commission, does not consider it necessary to examine
the question separately under Article 14 of the Convention taken in
conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (art. 14+P1-1).

V.      APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 50 OF THE CONVENTION (art. 50)

97.     Article 50 of the Convention (art. 50) provides:

        "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

98.     The applicants submitted that reparation for the alleged
pecuniary damage should put them in a situation equivalent to the one
which they would have been in had the unlawful measures not been
implemented.  The sum awarded should correspond to compensation in
kind.  It should take into account the current value of the
compensation due by reason of the disputed measures, the loss of
enjoyment suffered and the loss of profit resulting from the fact that
they were unable to benefit from the development of tourism on the
Algarve and had lost opportunities to expand their activities.

        In order to assess the damage thus identified, they continued,
it was necessary to determine what would have been their financial
position had the State not intervened.  To this end, the applicants
produced a detailed estimate of the pecuniary loss showing that the
amount of the compensation due in 1983, capitalised at the rates set
out in the 1976 Expropriations Code, came to 20,458,463,000 escudos
(PTE).

        An identical sum would be due were the Court to consider that
the expropriation in 1983 was lawful.  The current value of the
property was PTE 12,687,240,000, to which should be added
PTE 7,771,223,000 for the loss of real sale opportunities.

        The applicants also claimed non-pecuniary damage.  The dispute
had caused them feelings of frustration, powerlessness, suffering and
revolt given the brutal manner in which their rights had been "trampled
on" and the discriminatory treatment they had received.  They claimed
PTE 60,000,000 under this head.

        They further submitted that these amounts should be increased
by interest at the statutory annual rate of 15% to run from the date
on which their memorial was lodged until the date of payment.

99.     In the Government's submission, reparation in kind remained an
adequate means of redress.  Furthermore, the applicants' claim was
unfounded.  The land in question had never had and never would have the
potential on which the applicants' evaluation was based.  It was not
suitable for building or development for tourism purposes.  Moreover,
for thirty years the land had been subject to an obligation not to
hinder air traffic.  The national public works authority had recently
valued the land in question at PTE 300,000,000 to be increased if
appropriate by 10% to 15%.  Furthermore, so long as the proceedings
remained pending, the applicants were unable to claim a loss of profit,
such loss being hypothetical.  With regard to the possible damage
sustained on account of the length of the proceedings, the applicants
could bring an action for damages against the State in the domestic
courts.

        As regards the alleged non-pecuniary damage, the Government
considered that only individuals could suffer anxiety and distress
because of the uncertainty into which the length of proceedings plunged
them.  In any event, the amount claimed was unreasonable.  The
Government left it to the Court to make an assessment ex aequo et bono.

100.    The Delegate of the Commission considered the applicants'
claims excessive.

101.    The Court points out that there has been no expropriation or
situation tantamount to a deprivation of property, but a reduced
ability to dispose of the possessions in question.  The methods of
assessment proposed by the applicants are therefore not appropriate.
The breaches found of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (P1-1) and
Article 6 para. 1 of the Convention (art. 6-1) make it incumbent on the
Court to assess the damage as a whole having regard to the uncertainty
created by the length of the proceedings and to the interferences with
the free use of the property.  Assessing the various items of damage
on an equitable basis, the Court considers that the applicants should
be awarded satisfaction of PTE 10,000,000.

   B.   Costs and expenses

102.    The applicants also sought payment of PTE 320,000,000 in
respect of costs and expenses incurred in the domestic proceedings and
before the Convention institutions.  This sum, which they said should
also bear interest at the rate of 15% (see paragraph 98 above), would
cover the following expenses:

        (a) legal costs in the eight sets of proceedings before the
Supreme Administrative Court;

        (b) administrative and official expenses, including fees for
drawing up documents and estimating damage;

        (c) fees due to two university professors consulted during the
proceedings and during negotiations with the Government;

        (d) fees and expenses of counsel and of the legal adviser;

        (e) costs of postage, telephone and travel and subsistence in
Portugal and abroad.

103.    The Government maintained that only costs and expenses arising
out of the fact that the proceedings had not been concluded within a
reasonable time should be taken into account.  They considered the
amount of the other claims to be clearly unreasonable.

104.    The Delegate of the Commission found the claims in question to
be excessive.

105.    Making its assessment on an equitable basis and with reference
to its relevant criteria, the Court awards PTE 6,000,000 to the
applicants for costs and expenses.

    C.  Default interest

106.    According to the information available to the Court, the
statutory rate of interest applicable in Portugal at the date of
adoption of the present judgment is 10% per annum.

FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY

1.      Decides to join the Government's preliminary objections to the
        merits, and dismisses them after examining the merits;

2.      Holds that there has not been a violation of Article 13
        (art. 13) or of Article 6 para. 1 of the Convention (art. 6-1)
        on account of the lack of access to a tribunal;

3.      Holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 para. 1 of
        the Convention (art. 6-1) on account of the length of the
        proceedings;

4.      Holds that there has been a violation of Article 1 of
        Protocol No. 1 (P1-1);

5.      Holds that it is not necessary to examine the allegation of a
        violation of Article 14 of the Convention taken in conjunction
        with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (art. 14+P1-1);

6.      Holds that the respondent State is to pay the applicants taken
        together, within three months,
        10,000,000 (ten million) escudos for damage and
        6,000,000 (six million) escudos for costs and expenses, on
        which sums simple interest at an annual rate of 10% shall be
        payable from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months
        until settlement;

7.      Dismisses the remainder of the claim for just satisfaction.

        Done in English and in French, and delivered at a public
hearing in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg, on 16 September 1996.

Signed: Rolv RYSSDAL
        President

Signed: Herbert PETZOLD
        Registrar