In the case of Pressos Compania Naviera S.A. and Others
v. Belgium (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 C. Russo,
      Mr J. De Meyer,
      Mr R. Pekkanen,
      Mr M.A. Lopes Rocha,
      Mr L. Wildhaber,
      Mr D. Gotchev,
      Mr B. Repik,
      Mr U. Lohmus,

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

      Having deliberated in private on 19 March and 26 June 1997,

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

1.  The case is numbered 38/1994/485/567.  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.


1.    The case was referred to the Court by the European Commission of
Human Rights ("the Commission") and by the Belgian Government
("the Government") respectively on 9 September and 21 October 1994,
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. 17849/91) against the Kingdom of Belgium lodged with
the Commission under Article 25 (art. 25) by twenty-six applicants on
4 January 1991 (see the principal judgment of 20 November 1995,
Series A no. 332, p. 8, para. 6).

2.    In its aforementioned judgment of 20 November 1995
("the principal judgment"), the Court found that there had been
deprivation of property contrary to Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (P1-1)
in that an Act of 30 August 1988 ("the 1988 Act") had retrospectively
extinguished without consideration any claims for compensation which
the applicants may have had against the Belgian State or against
private companies offering pilot services for casualties occurring
before 17 September 1988 (Series A no. 332, pp. 24 and 26, para. 44 and
point 3 of the operative provisions).

3.    As the question of the application of Article 50 (art. 50) was
not ready for decision, it was reserved in the principal judgment.  The
Court invited the Government and the applicants to submit, within
six months, their observations on the issue and, inter alia, to inform
it of any friendly settlement that they might reach (ibid., point 6 of
the operative provisions).

4.    On 20 May 1996, the Government lodged a memorial, to which the
applicants replied on 3 September 1996.  On 30 September 1996 the
President gave the Government and the applicants leave to lodge an
additional memorial, which they did on 5 November and 10 December 1996
respectively.  On 10 February 1997, the Government sent to the registry
a court decision in the case of one of the applicants, together with
their observations; the applicants replied on 6 March 1997.  On
18 April 1997 the applicants sent some other decisions of the
Belgian courts to the registry with an up-to-date table of the damages
claimed. On 30 April 1997, the Government submitted further
observations, but the Chamber decided not to include them in the case
file as the time-limit for submitting them had expired. On
21 January 1997, the Registrar had received the observations of the
Delegate of the Commission.

5.    Subsequently Mr B. Repik, substitute judge, replaced
Mr Thór Vilhjálmsson, who was unable to take part in the further
consideration of the case (Rules 22 para. 1 and 24 para. 1 of Rules of
Court A).


6.    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

7.    The applicants claimed 1,547,508,885 Belgian francs (BEF) for
pecuniary damage.  That sum represented the cumulative total -
including interest up to 31 May 1997 - of the claims which they had as
a result of the casualties in issue in this case. In addition, they
asked the Court "to rule that the Belgian State must pay each of the
applicants, in reparation of the non-pecuniary damage caused to them
by the Government's attitude following its judgment of
20 November 1995, a sum that is left to the Court's discretion".

1.    The claims of all but the twenty-fifth applicant

8.    In its principal judgment, the Court considered that it "[was]
... for the national courts to determine the beneficiaries and amounts
of the damages claims generated by the accidents that lay at the origin
of the case" (see the aforementioned judgment, p. 25, para. 51).

9.    The applicants feared in particular that proceedings in the
domestic courts would be excessively long and requested the Court "to
appoint one or three experts and to instruct them to determine, on the
basis of all the documents and facts of the case, such as the experts'
reports that had been obtained and the decisions delivered in the
domestic courts, whether the accidents in dispute were the result of
the pilots' negligence and if so in what proportion and to assess
whether the amounts claimed by the applicants by way of compensation
were justified ... and the amounts that should be awarded to them to
cover experts', translators' and bailiffs' costs incurred by them in
the domestic proceedings".  In that regard, the applicants observed
that there was a precedent for the Court seeking an expert's report in
the case of Papamichalopoulos and Others v. Greece (judgment of
31 October 1995 (Article 50), Series A no. 330-B).

10.   The Court notes, however, that in the
Papamichalopoulos and Others case it had previously found that each of
the applicants had been expropriated in a manner incompatible with
their right to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions
(see judgment of 24 June 1993, Series A no. 260-B, pp. 68-71,
paras. 35-46, and points 1-2 of the operative provisions).  Thus the
expert's remit was confined to valuing the disputed land (ibid.,
point 3 (b) of the operative provisions, and the aforementioned
judgment of 31 October 1995, pp. 49-50, paras. 3 and 6).

      Here, on the other hand, before damages are assessed, liability
for each of the accidents has to be determined and the beneficiaries
and the compensation due identified.  As the Court has already said
(see paragraph 8 above), that is a task for the national courts. The
Court, however, reserves to itself the right to verify whether the
outcome of the national proceedings - and their length - satisfies
Article 50 of the Convention (art. 50) (see, mutatis mutandis, the
Guillemin v. France judgment of 21 February 1997, Reports of Judgments
and Decisions 1997-I, p. 164, para. 56).

11.   In this respect, the Court has taken note of the
two court decisions communicated to it by the parties, namely the
judgment of the Antwerp Commercial Court of 6 June 1996 concerning the
twenty-first applicant (North River Overseas S.A.) and the judgment of
the Ghent Court of Appeal of 31 October 1996 concerning the
sixteenth applicant (Merit Holdings Corporation).

      By not applying the Act of 30 August 1988 ("the 1988 Act") those
courts have, in their decisions, effected the restitutio in integrum
to which the sixteenth and twenty-first applicants may lay claim
following the Court's principal judgment (see the aforementioned
Papamichalopoulos and Others judgment of 31 October 1995, pp. 58-59,
para. 34), provided that the decisions become final.

12.   Relying on the Court's case-law in relation to Article 1 of
Protocol No. 1 (P1-1), the Government maintained that the
restitutio in integrum sought in the instant case did not require
compensation in full for the damage for which the State or any other
organiser of piloting services may be held liable.  The Government
indicated that on 10 May 1996 they approved a bill, section 2 of which,
in the version they had submitted to the Court, provided:

      "para. 1. In section 3 bis (2) of the Act of 3 November 1967 on
      the piloting of sea-going vessels inserted by the
      Act of 30 August 1988, the sentence `It shall apply with
      retrospective effect for a period of thirty years from that date'
      shall be deleted.

      para. 2. There is added to that section a subsection 3, worded
      as follows:

      `para. 3. With respect to incidents causing damage which occurred
      before the date referred to in subsection 2, an organiser who is
      held liable may limit his liability in accordance with Article 6,
      paragraph 4, of the London Convention of 19 November 1976 on
      Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, approved by the
      Act of 11 April 1989;

      For those same incidents, an agent held liable may limit his
      liability in accordance with subsection 1 to
      five hundred thousand francs per incident; in the case of a
      deliberately tortious act, the agent may not limit his liability.

      Organisers are liable for claims which their agents have been
      ordered to pay, save where the agent has been found liable of a
      deliberately tortious act.'"

      The bill has been submitted for opinion to the Conseil d'Etat.
The Court has not been informed of what has become of it since then.

13.   It is not the Court's task to rule in abstracto on the
compatibility of the provisions of a bill with the Convention
(see, as the most recent authority, mutatis mutandis, the Findlay
v. the United Kingdom judgment of 25 February 1997, Reports 1997-I,
p. 279, para. 67).

      It notes, however, that in its
Stran Greek Refineries and Stratis Andreadis v. Greece judgment of
9 December 1994, it held: "The principle of the rule of law and the
notion of fair trial enshrined in Article 6 preclude any interference
by the legislature with the administration of justice designed to
influence the judicial determination of the dispute" (Series A,
no. 301-B, p. 82, para. 49).

14.   In conclusion, it is not appropriate to apply Article 50
(art. 50) to the applicants, with the exception of the
twenty-fifth applicant, until the Belgian courts have given a final
ruling in the disputes in question.  Accordingly, as matters stand, the
case concerning the said applicants should be struck out of the list.
The Court, however, reserves the power to restore the case to the list
if necessary (see, mutatis mutandis, the Rubinat v. Italy judgment of
12 February 1985, Series A, no. 89, p. 23, para. 17).

2.    The twenty-fifth applicant

15.   The twenty-fifth applicant (Naviera Uralar S.A.) has to be
treated differently as its third-party action against the Belgian State
has been finally dismissed pursuant to the 1988 Act (see the
aforementioned principal judgment, pp. 12 and 14, paras. 6 et 8).

16.   The Delegate of the Commission suggested that the Court stay the
proceedings pending a decision of the Court of Cassation, to whom the
case could be referred by the Minister of Justice under Article 1088
of the Judicial Code.

17.   The Court notes that since 20 November 1995, when it delivered
its principal judgment, the Minister of Justice has not used his powers
under Article 1088 of the Judicial Code (see paragraph 16 above).  It
therefore follows that, with regard to the twenty-fifth applicant, the
consequences of the violation of the Convention have not been
eradicated so that the applicant is entitled to just satisfaction under
Article 50 (art. 50).

18.   The twenty-fifth applicant claimed BEF 9,686,039 for pecuniary
damage.  That was the amount which on 26 October 1988 the
Antwerp Court of Appeal ordered it to pay, pursuant to the 1988 Act,
for having caused damage to a jetty in the Antwerp harbour (see the
aforementioned principal judgment, pp. 12 and 14, paras. 6 and 8),
comprising BEF 5,864,679 plus statutory interest to 31 May 1997.

19.   In the Government's submission, it was apparent from the
decisions delivered in that case that "even in the absence of the
1988 Act, it is excessive, to say the least, to claim that the
third-party claim of the twenty-fifth applicant against the State,
based on alleged pilot negligence, would have succeeded".  The
Government were prepared to pay BEF 150,000 for the applicant's loss
of opportunity as a result of the 1988 Act.

20.   The amount of the damage is not disputed.  However, the
apportionment of liability is uncertain.  Accordingly, making an
assessment on an equitable basis, the Court considers it reasonable for
the respondent State to bear one half of the damage resulting from the
casualty concerned.  Consequently, it awards the twenty-fifth applicant
BEF 4,843,019.50 for pecuniary damage, plus statutory interest to run
from 31 May 1997 to the date of settlement.

21.   As regards any non-pecuniary damage the twenty-fifth applicant
may have sustained, the Court holds that the present judgment affords
sufficient reparation.

B.    Costs and expenses

22.   For costs and expenses incurred in the proceedings before the
Court since the judgment of 20 November 1995, the applicants claimed
a total sum of BEF 3,000,000.

23.   Neither the Government nor the Delegate of the Commission
expressed a view on this point.

24.   The Court notes that, in the light of the conclusions set out at
paragraphs 14 and 17 above, only the costs incurred by the
twenty-fifth applicant are to be taken into account.  In order for such
costs to be included in an award under Article 50 (art. 50), it must
be established that they were actually and necessarily incurred and
reasonable as to quantum.  As, however, the twenty-fifth applicant has
failed to supply information or supporting documentation on that
subject and to indicate what portion of the total sum relates to its
representation before the Court, the Court cannot grant its claim
(see, mutatis mutandis, the Öztürk v. Germany judgment of
23 October 1984, Series A no. 85, p. 9, para. 9).


1.    Decides, subject to the reservation set out at paragraph 14
      above, to strike the case out of the list with respect to all the
      applicants except the twenty-fifth;

2.    Holds that the respondent State is to pay the
      twenty-fifth applicant (Naviera Uralar S.A.), within
      three months, 4,843,019 (four million eight hundred and
      forty-three thousand and nineteen) Belgian francs and
      50 (fifty) centimes for pecuniary damage, on which sum statutory
      interest is payable from 31 May 1997 until settlement;

3.    Holds that the present judgment constitutes sufficient just
      satisfaction in respect of any non-pecuniary damage sustained by
      the twenty-fifth applicant;

4.    Dismisses the remainder of the claim for just satisfaction made
      by the twenty-fifth applicant.

      Done in English and in French, and delivered at a public hearing
in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg, on 3 July 1997.

Signed: Rolv RYSSDAL

Signed: Herbert PETZOLD